Flexibility is important in most physical activities but especially dance. Some benefits of working on your flexibility are:
- A good level of flexibility helps prevent injury
- Conversely, poor flexibility can cause other muscles to overcompensate, leading to improper technique/form and cause injury
- A greater range of flexibility allows better execution on moves
Some examples where flexibility is essential in breaking include:
- Flares: if your hamstrings are lacking in flexibility, you’re fighting not only gravity but your own hamstrings to lift your legs high
- Windmills: If your hips are not flexible enough, you won’t get the hip extension that allows for speed and smoothness in your windmills, and your windmills will instead bounce and look ugly.
- Airlares/halos: If your hips and shoulders do not have enough flexibility, you will not be able to do this move with good form, or you will get injuries in your shoulder, hip or wrist (transfer of strain).
- Toprock and standup dance: if your shoulders are stiff, your dancing will look stiff. No one wants to look stiff! Work on that flexibility.
But flexibility isn’t just important in breaking. Tight muscles can be painful and stressful (as well as caused by stress – yes, they can also CAUSE stress – its a vicious circle). If you sit down a lot at work or school, its likely your hips and shoulders are quite tight.
If you want to keep your body working smoothly through adulthood, middle age and even old age (and who doesn’t), you need to invest some time in your flexibility.
I have titled this page “flexibility and flexibility exercises”, not just “stretching”, because I have personally found static stretching alone to be quite inneffective.
I’ll be putting up some specific tutorials for breaking (breakdance) flexibility, but in the mean time, the absolute best resources I have found are below.
Tight hip flexors are super-common especially in those of us who spend much time sitting down. Even if you dance for 5 hours every day, if you also spent 7 hours sitting down at work or school, then you might have tight hip flexors. In terms of dance, if you find you get stiff lower back and you struggle with positions like bridge or arching your back, there’s a good chance your hip flexors are tight. You’ll also see from the (admittedly a little cheesy) sales page that there are a whole host of other complications that come from tight hip flexors. At time of writing this program is on discount ($9/£7).
Even though this program is about fixing pain, I’ve been using the exercises to fix stiffness in the shoulders. This affects your whole back and general flexibility. Since I’ve been doing this program my chair freezes and halos have got a lot easier, and I’m willing to bet my risk of injury has too. Plus, my posture is way better and I don’t get stiffness and aching in my shoulders for no reason any more.
Don’t be put off by the cheesy American branding on the sales page – this stuff is effective.
I don’t normally pay for online tutorials, but after trying for literally years to improve my hip and shoulder flexibility to almost NO EFFECT – that’s years of static stretching, doing exercises at the gym that I found on internet forums and doing the “broomstick” exercises where you try to rotate it over your back and shoulders (my experience: painful and not helpful, maybe even damaging) I finally found some less common and much more effective exercises in the programs below. I’m currently working on my hips, hamstrings and shoulders the programs above. Watch this space for progression videos.