I Started My New Year Tap Dancing
I started my New Year’s resolutions early this year and took up tap dancing. Why tap dancing, you may ask? I wanted to try it again as an adult, and I always put it off. I took dance as a child for many years and always loved the noise the taps make. So, I decided this would be something to do just for fun, not necessarily for exercise. I am thoroughly loving it and have suddenly—to my current dismay—also rediscovered several muscles that I wasn’t using in my daily life or even at the gym. So, after four weeks, a sore back, and sciatic nerve issues, I realized it was time to start stretching before and after physical activities of any kind.
I realized, it would probably behoove us all to be stretching!
Stretching helps maintain range of motion for joints, helps keeps us flexible and strong, and helps keep muscles long and lean. It takes time to gain flexibility when your muscles are tight. In other words, flexibility won’t happen in a week or two—but it will happen if you do a little bit every day or week. Check in after a month and you will start to see a difference.
There are a few areas that are critical to stretch for general day-to-day movement and most physical activities: calves, hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, shoulders, and neck, and lower and upper back. For example, many of us sit during the day, and this can lead to tight hamstrings— that muscle in the back of our thighs. Stretching the hamstring, in turn, will help stave up muscle soreness during physical activity.
- Stretch daily or at least three to four times a week.
- Warm up muscles before stretching to avoid damaging cold, tight muscles. Warm up with a five to 10-minute walk or light activity.
- Stretch after sport, gym class, or weight training when muscles are warm.
- Take it slow and easy on your stretches; don’t rush through them.
- Hold your poses for 30 to 60 seconds and don’t bounce. You can learn stretches from a gym trainer, a physical therapist, or even from an app on your phone.
Remember, without stretching, your muscles shorten, become tight, and can cause pain. This can also interfere with your tap dancing!
(Before starting any new health related treatment or stretching regimen, please consult your doctor.)