Stretches for Gymnasts: Extreme Flexibility Focus

Got a meet coming up? Improve your Penché, Scorpion, Biellmann spin, Dancer’s pose and over splits to secure that perfect score!

Flexibility paired with strength is imperative for functional movements required in ballet or any particular sport.  In most sports, extreme mobility and strength are mandatory to accomplish even the most introductory movements and necessary to advance to the top of your field.

Rather than using static or flimsy exercise straps that force you into position or may break in usage, the Flexistretcher combines stretch with durability. Originally designed for professional ballet dancers, the Flexistretcher’s custom designed parts and adjustable straps are built to withstand daily extreme use. Utilizing elastic training methods when working with the Flexistretcher allows one to find a safe level of extension while increasing strength in the muscles to hold the position. Using the Flexistretcher to free your arms, find correct form, or deepen a stretch, challenges the muscles within the position and effectively increases flexibility along with strength.

Try these stretches and target all the moves that require maximum strength & flexibility: 

1.) Penché

SETUP:  Hold on to a stable surface. Standing on your left leg, place both loops around the center of the right foot.  Bend your right leg behind you as you thread your left arm through the center and placing the foam pad on your left shoulder.

ACTION: Lift the right knee up and, pushing into the resistance, extend the leg behind you.  Slowly lower your torso towards the floor, lifting the working leg into a standing split.  To return, lift the torso upright. Then bend the knee and turn it in, remove the pad from around your shoulder, and step out of the loops.  Repeat with the other leg.

Really concentrate on actively contracting your muscles while performing this stretch. Pull up on the thighs and co-contract the hamstrings, hold for 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat this 5-10 times.

2.) Dancer’s Pose

Melanie Hamrick (American Ballet Theatre) demonstrating Dancer's Pose.

Melanie Hamrick (American Ballet Theatre) demonstrating Dancer's Pose.

SETUP:  Fold the Flexistretcher in half. Stand on your left leg and bend the right leg behind you.  With a flexed foot, hook the center foam pad of the Flexistretcher around the top of the foot.

ACTION:  Take the loops in your hands. With control begin to raise your arms up toward the sky as you lift your right leg straight up behind you.

To add a challenge you can walk your hands closer to the center of the Flexistretcher to tighten the resistance. Begin to straighten the leg behind you and concentrate on the standing leg, making sure that it is strong and stable.