Our dance tutors often get questions about warming up before a class. Many students are scared to get it wrong or are just not quite sure what to do. We decided to talk to some of our dance tutors to ask them for their top tips on warming up and staying free of injuries.
Why Warm Up?
Rhiannon Munson-Hobbs, Ballet Tutor: My number one reason for warming up is that it is essential for injury prevention, and as a freelance dancer (although it is equally important for students and dancers of any level) it is super important not only for my work and health but for longevity.
Waking Up Your Body
Mark Kimmett, Ballet tutor: I find that stretching with downward dog and child’s pose is good for waking up the body. You can also gently tap or brush the body to bring awareness to sensation, especially to sleepy parts. For me, it’s also important to take time to fully arrive into the body awareness. When we are more present injuries will occur less as we are more focused for the class.
Panagiotis Pavlopoulos, Contemporary Dance & Flexibility tutor: Mobilising the joints as you start a warm up is extremely important. That way you warm up the joints and all the tissues around them. There is no point in stretching anything before you mobilise your joints first. I prefer going head to toe, warming up the joints. Here’s an example if you’re warming up on your own:
-Stand still with your feet hip width apart. Spread your toes, have soft knees and a relaxed jaw. You start bouncing gently (shaking) through your centre, using 10% of your energy. Gradually you start raising your energy, shaking harder until you get 100% and at that point you start decrease your energy gradually until you hit 0%. The whole process can last from 10min to 20min.
Adrian Del Arroyo, Contemporary Dance tutor & Contemporary Company Director: I always say in class that you need to mobilise your joints and release the spine to gain flexibility during warm up. We want to activate our muscles and our attention, essentially waking up the body. Here are a few simple things you can do:
-Do some small jumps at 30% effort. This will make your pulse rise and bring oxygen to the muscles.
-Roll and circle your various joints in both directions (shoulders, wrists, neck etc.). This lubricates the joints, preventing them from grinding.
-Achieve body activation by going down to the floor and up to standing in as many ways a possible, and at various speeds. This also helps to connect you to the floor, realising it's your support.
Focusing on Important Areas
Georgina Bishop, Ballet Tutor and Ballet Company Director:The quads are one of (if not the) biggest muscle group in your body, and needs to be prepared before a class. This is why Plies are so efficient as a warm up in Ballet. Doing exercises that involve the quads is an efficient way of getting your heart rate up and making you warm enough for class.
Amy Hollins, Ballet tutor: My top tip for warming up is to do dynamic stretching rather than static stretching. Imagining the muscles are like plasticine, they need to stretch and contract to warm up rather than stretch and hold. For example holding the barre stretching one leg behind like a lunge and return the foot (opening up the hip flexor).
Different warm-up exercises can be beneficial for different types of dance and work outs. If you want to know more about how to warm up for your dance style, talk to your tutor before or after class.