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The Ultimate Flexibility Assessment Tool
Flexibility is a multi-faceted beast, and the reason so many dancers struggle with developing their optimal flexibility is that what is right for one person may be the complete opposite of what is right for another.
Learning how to assess yourself on a daily basis, and make smart decisions about what you need to do to resolve this, is essential for a dancer. If you are doing a generalised stretching sequence that has not been tailored to you, you will often put in a huge amount of effort for very little reward.
The ultimate assessment tool for this is a simple Roll Down, but the magic is in focussing on exactly what you feel, and understadning what this means. A Roll Down can help you understand exactly where you are getting restricted, as it is often not actually in your hamstrings! Tension in the nerves, fascia or muscles in the neck, back, hips, or feet can limit your ability to go into a deep forward bend.
How you indicate the tension can give you a guide as to what structure may be restricting the movement. Ask your partner to note the quality of movement of the spine as well as the end position. For instance, some dancers will be able to touch their head to their knees, but actually have very little spinal flexion.
What to do about it!
Depending on where you feel the restriction, and the knowledge that you have about what this means, will guide the techniques you use to improve your range. With any mobilisation technique, remember to treat your nerves like dental floss (sliding), rather than elastic (stretching). Focus on releasing tension in structures surrounding and anchoring the nerves, rather than stretching them directly.
Techniques such as the suboccipital releases and deep calf massage from the Front Splits Fast program may help if it is a neural restriction, while the Hamstring Mobilisers and Thoracic Mobility Sequence from our Level 1 Teacher Training may be more effective if it is a fascial restriction. To learn more about unravelling your mobility in the most effortless and effective ways check out our Online Student Programs or Teacher Training Workshops.