Extension is something that I hear dance parents and dancers describe consistently. How do I get better extension? How do I get better extension? How do I get better extension? Top three questions from every master class, workshop series, or lectures that I’ve ever done.
I understand the big deal. I remember being a sophomore in high school with 90 degree extension while every other boy had something better. Even if only by a little. That summer I obsessed over it, creating an intense and straight to the point regimen designed to calm my nervous system down while I put my body in intense positions. I created it myself and executed it in front of a space heater, using a special muscle relaxing oil, every night that summer. By the time my Junior year rolled around I was one of the most flexible boys in my dance class. My extension had improved greatly. I have to be honest, this takes an extreme amount of discipline and patience… and it’s more about getting control of your nervous system than anything. That’s HARD to do!
The truth is that every dancer has different levels of flexibility and muscle readiness. Here are some more general tips about dance extension and how dancers can get better extension!
The only way a dancer can improve extension is by stretching properly and consistently with daily classes where the dancer consistently works on improving their extension. It will take different amounts of times based on your natural flexibility but I’m confident that this will work for every body type. Be patient. I’ve seen some dancers stretch for years with no results before their dance extensions grow like crazy. Develop a regimen and learn to love it!
If you’re a dancer whose knees don’t fully straighten or always look bent, there’s a good tennis ball therapy trick you can use to fix that.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Straighten the leg, trying to keep your foot on the floor. (Do this until you’ve somewhat squashed the tennis ball)
- Release and repeat with the other leg.
You might want to start with something a little softer than a tennis ball.
I hope this helps you on your journey to high legs and great flexibility! Don’t hesistate to reach out to me… I love discussing this topic!