Having a flexible back is very important as a dancer. Many people are born with naturally flexible backs, but you can always work to get your back MUCH more flexible than it is right now. However, it does take time. If your goal is to have a flexible back, then you should work on it for 30 minutes per day. Here are some stretches you can do if you are working on improving your back flexibility:
1.) Lie face down on the ground or a mat. Place both hands flat underneath your chest and lift up into a cobra position. Go as far as you can and hold for 30 seconds. Slowly begin to lift one hand off of the ground and reach it behind you towards your heels. Squeeze your low and mid back, and your core to hold your balance. Then lift the second hand off the ground and reach it towards your heels as well. Try balancing here, and holding this position for as long as possible.
You can also work this stretch against a wall like this:
2.) Go into a bridge position. Once you have your bridge, there are many variations. First, try straightening your knees. Second, try going down on your elbows. Third, straighten your knees AND go down on your elbows at the same time. Fourth, walk your hands all the way towards your heels and try to grab one heel in your hand.
3.) Stand facing a wall and lean one side of your face and your chest against the wall. Begin to slide your torso down the wall until your shoulders are in line with your hips. Try to keep your hips over your heels.
4.) Go into a right or left split and arch back. Turn your finger tips towards your toes. Try to reach the crown of your head towards the back of your knee. Hold this for 30 seconds or one minute. Begin to work your hands all the way to your back ankle and see if your can grab it in your hands. If you can grab your ankle with one hand, try to lift your lift your foot so your knee comes to a 90 degree angle, like the picture below. From there, it is easier to grab onto your ankle with your second hand and then pull your leg back down into a split. Be careful not to fall over! This is a great stretch to do against a wall for balance.
5.) Here is another way to get into your split holding your back ankle! Stand on both knees and choose one leg to extend out straight. Arch back, while still on the one knee, and try to grab your ankle in both hands. Grip tightly, and slide into your split!
6.) From standing straight, arch back and reach one hand to grab the back of your knee. If you can do this, try to grab with both hands (below left).
7. Go into a chin stand and try to get your toes to touch the floor in front of you (above right).
8. From a kneeling position (standing on both knees), arch back and try to grab your heels. If you can do this, keep arching back and work to get one elbow and then the other on the floor.
9. If you are able to correctly and safely execute all of the above stretches, then you should be able to do a straight legged scorpion! There are lots of great stretches you can do utilizes this beautiful technical component using the bar or a chair.
10. Don't forget to do some forward folds after all of your back bends to protect your spine! Make sure to do these stretches with proper supervision, and don't do anything that you have not worked on before with an instructor!
Keep working on your back flexibility and be patient with your body! Never settle for the current level of you flexility. You WILL get there if you are motivated, passionate, and disciplined. Happy stretching!!
*Dance Productions 2 or any affiliates do not own the rights to any of the photos above. All are courtesy of tumbler and pinterest.