Stretching is like running, the more you do it, the more enjoyable it feels (or so I hear- I generally only run when late for a bus!) Anyway the point is- to be good at it, like most things you have to do it, well, every day. Hurrah! Ok, I know, I know, that’s probably not your go to response, it doesn’t exactly overload the fun-ometer. But it can!
So let’s look at some ways we can make it put a spring in your step, rather than have you running for the hills. Here are your 15 top tips to have fun stretching.
1. Let the good tunes roll:
You’ve probably noticed that if you’re just staring at a clock while you stretch or counting, time seems to move painfully sloooooooowly. This makes it difficult to have fun stretching. So forget about clock watching, tell yourself your gonna stretch for the length of two verses and choruses and get singing along to your favourite tunes. Not only is it WAY more enjoyable, but it gives your brain something else to focus on.
2. Replace Netflix and chill:
Let your downtime become Netflix and stretch. Stretching whilst watching your favourite shows is a sure-fire way to not only make sure you enjoy it SO much more, but you’ll find that it will starts to become habit. The gains will soon start to pay off as you see improvement and with only so many hours in the day, surely it makes sense for a gal to multitask right?
3. Take photo challenges with your besties.
You can even do boomerangs, go nuts. This is a really fun way to get creative and get yourself outside the studio. After all, the same 4 walls can make us all a little crazy once in a while, so go have an adventure!
For some extra inspiration check out Jordan Matter, he takes BEAUtiful photos, so when it comes to inspiration he’s king. Check out this one below:
4. Let YouTube be your instructor!
Ever noticed how it’s so much easier to do stuff in class when you have a teacher talking you through it and one thing seems to flow seamlessly into the next? Well, enter YouTube, your at home teacher. Millions of people upload their content to YouTube. Not only does this mean you can switch up your stretching routine every single day, but you can also get inspiration and motivation from a lot of different dancers.
5. Channel your inner Monica (yes I am talking Friends.)
Make a list of your goals. That’s right, you’ve caught me, I’m a list person. But I stand my ground. Without a focus, our progress can just drift and then disintegrate. A list can help you keep on top of where you’re going and why. And yes, it is also nice to have that little rush as you tick off something extra off the list.
6. Document your progress.
Take photos as you improve. This will spur you on and is a good way to check that what you’re doing is working.
7. Reward yourself with a treat afterwards.
Make sure it’s something that will make you feel good about yourself, so whether it’s naughty (finally having that chocolate bar) or nice (catching up with a friend,) give yourself something to spur you towards the finish line.
8. Don’t make every day about gains.
Have a shorter stretching routine for some days so you can be kind to yourself and allow wiggle room for life. And then some kick ass longer stretching routines where you can strive for progress. To have fun stretching, think of it like pick ‘n’ mix. By mixing things up, you get the best of both and it allows for the busy bees that us performers are.
9. Invest in a yoga class once a week.
Changing the focus to restorative movement once a week will not only teach your body a new way to be with the stretch, but also help you start to learn to quiet your mind. If your mind is anything like mine-a chatterbox- then yoga is stretching’s equivalent to a cup of tea. Aah much better.
10. Do it more!
As I said at the start of this post, the more you do it the more malleable your body becomes and it will start to feel easier. So if you want to feel less like an ironing boards and more like a cheese string, think little and often.
11. Stretch with a friend.
Assisted stretching is great as not only can you have more help and use each other’s body weight, but you can have a good old chinwag at the same time! Or even if you’re quiet, sometimes it’s just just nice to have the company.
12. Have one day a week where you let yourself off.
That’s right, if we want to make something sustainable we have to allow a day of breathing space. One day a week may actually help your goals as it gives your body a break, and your sanity too! That way you’re less likely to avoid overwhelm and have fun stretching when you get back to it. It’s also good for your own sense of happy, so don’t let yourself get jaded, go have some fun!
13. Chill with a tennis ball.
For everyone going, ‘huh?’ round about now, I am of course talking about myofascial release. Because we hold a lot of tension in our bodies, by applying pressure using a tennis ball or the like and learning to self massage myofascial trigger points you can find yourself suddenly a lot more flexible without even having stretched. So find a way to incorporate this 2 or 3 times a week to compensate with the stresses and strains of dancing.
14. Book a massage.
Once a month if you can. This is probably the easiest one to want to check off the list. Don’t worry, I understand massages can be super costly, I mean who can afford the going rates right? But at a lot of colleges, 3rd year students have to complete a certain number of assessment hours before they can graduate, and so they offer these sessions to the general public at a vastly discounted rate. And don’t worry, they are still completely safe, as the practitioners are fully trained. I once booked an hour long session at a college for £10 and it is still my best massage to date! So be kind to yourself.
15. Stretch out after class.
Don’t miss what I like to call the golden stretching window. Not only is it important as a cool down after exercise, but when we’ve worked out hard, our body is fluid and malleable. So don’t miss this chance to make things easier on yourself and embrace the new bendy you. And as an added bonus you now don’t have to do it later!