Leigh Schanfein is a freelance dancer and research associate at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, NYU Langone Medical Center. Her current research at HCDI covers a wide range of topics concerning injury prevention among dancers. Leigh is on faculty at Barnard University as adjunct lecturer of biomechanics in the department of dance. She attended our recent training course and is a Certified FLX Conditioning Specialist, here are two of her favorite concepts with the Flexistretcher!
1. The Flexistretcher can be used to do really simple stretches. // You totally do not need any tool in order to do these stretches; I can easily hold my leg with my hands and pull it towards my face and stretch my hamstring, for example. But, the stupidly simple thing I discovered was that by using the strap around my back to hold my leg instead of using my arms, I could completely relax my upper body during the stretch. This was such a new sensation and makes all the sense in the world - when we do a battement or developpe devant, or any movement really, we want to do it without tension in the upper body, to look effortless and to have freedom to move the upper body separately, so the ability to stretch without upper body tension directly trains this. I’m so late the the game to discover this, but I’m so glad I did. It also means you can more easily do PNF (proprioceptive-neuromuscular facilitation) with yourself.
2. The second concept is that by having the Flexistretcher crossing the opposite shoulder in any arabesque-type stretch, it really enforced keeping the torso square to extend both sides of the back and to contract muscles on both sides as equally as possible. Because the band has elasticity, it makes you have to work in the stretch in all directions (it helps stabilize but won’t hold it for you) so instead of, say, a right arabesque making you work super hard with the glutes and spinal muscles on the right side, the band encourages both sides of the back to work for it. You can also use your hip flexors to engage them through that unique range of motion, the adductors, internal or external rotators - basically there is this combination of support and resistance in every direction. This felt amazing for me since I have ligament laxity in my spine and need to target symmetrical strength throughout my spine and pelvis.