Why is warm up so important?
The primary purpose of the “warm up” is to literally warm up and wake up your body’s muscles to improve performance. By warming up we increase our body’s core temperature, which loosens muscles and lubricates joints. This prepares the body for more intense and strenuous movement. When we warm up our body’s we improve nerve conduction. This is important for dancers because nerve messages travel through the body faster at higher temperatures. You may be asking yourself “So what does this mean”? It means that the warmer we are, the quicker our nerve responses which results in quicker reflexes and muscular reactions. This in turn reduces the risk of injury.
Most dance teachers go right to grand plies to commence warm up. This is very hard on the knees and hips when the muscles and joints are tight. I like to begin my warm up with a combination of exercises that heat the muscles and joints before going into any deep stretching. I combine elements of yoga, pilates, and light resistance exercises to warm the muscles up. Once warm, I then go into stretching bigger muscle groups first, like the quads and hamstrings. I then graduate to smaller muscles like the inside thigh and Iliopsoas.
In my own classes I want to make sure I am ready for that first plie. For those of you that perform and compete, it is important to keep moving around between stage times to keep you body warm and ready for peak performance.
I hope you all found this useful. Stay tuned for next week’s BLOG.