Stretching is simply indispensable. It is necessary for good health, for ballet, and for general well-being.
In ballet, one must master the five aspects of physical development: turnout (opening of the hips), extensions (leg flexibility), back flexibility, feet (high arches), and jumps. Stretching is necessary to master these five aspects by developing each and every one of them, both by increasing your natural abilities, and creating new abilities. For example, if you weren't born with good feet and high arches, stretching helps develop them rather than making you rely on your natural abilities, which are often insufficient.
- reduce muscle pain and back pain
- increase blood circulation
- increase your flexibility and your muscles' range of motion
- decrease tension in all areas of your body
- reduce stress and increase calmness; can be a great method for meditation
It also helps you understand your body and what it needs, which can influence all areas of your health in a positive way.
Two years ago, I made a stretching plan for myself when I was just beginning ballet and my flexibility was at a low level. The file is attached below, at the end of the article.
It's a great way to warm up, or to stretch a bit during the day.
The most important thing about stretching is making it a habit - we tend to follow habits and routines rather than do things spontaneously. If you can make room for just a few minutes of stretching everyday, that will lead to small steps and big progress!
Alexia Dochnal, 15 years old.