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Ballet Flexibility For Cheer Leadering
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Cheer leadering members often ask me about ballet flexibility. How fast can a person get more flexible, what are the best exercises for making progress toward doing the splits, are the main questions. Learning about which exact muscles you are stretching helps you focus on them, understand their function better, and last but not least, stretch them safely.

For front splits, you will need to stretch and/or release tension from:

  • the hamstrings
  • the psoas
  • the quadriceps

These large and strong muscles are used to control and restrict our movements, in order to protect our joints. Therefore, what stretching does is go against the brain's instinct to prevent injuries in the muscles and tendons of the joints. You get around this by always warming up, and stretching with no bouncing or pulsing at all, when you are in a stretch position.

For example, stretching out the hamstring muscle:

  • use a chair where the height is easy for you to place one leg up on the seat, placed in front of the hip joint
  • your standing leg can be straight but not locked at the knee
  • keeping the back straight, bend forward until you feel a stretch, but not until you feel pain
  • hold the position for fifteen to twenty seconds, breathe easily

Repeat two more times, and change legs. Repeat three times with the other leg.

While you are at the chair, you can do a stretch that will help widen your side split, or second position. Start by again;

  • placing one leg on the chair, keeping it straight
  • turn away from the leg, pivoting the foot on the floor as well, until the leg is more beside you than in front
  • bend sideways over the raised leg, until you feel a stretch from the groin along the inside of the thigh to the knee
  • hold for fifteen to twenty seconds, and repeat two more times
  • repeat with the other leg

This exercise stretches your long adductor muscle. Do not worry about how far to the side your leg will go. This will slowly increase in most cases.

The hardest stretch for most people is the back leg of the splits. You will notice that if a person cannot do the splits, they will most likely keep the front leg straight and "cheat" by bending the back knee. This is the smart way to go. Tearing the hamstring or ripping a tendon or ligament in the hip joint is not worth straining at this position.

The actuality is, individuals who are born to do the splits are often hyper-mobile, meaning they have very long ligaments holding their joints together. They may have not so flexible muscles, but their joints can move around a lot. However, if this is the case, these people are more likely to get dance or sports injuries. So do not suffer too envy over this!

For the back leg start with a runner's lunge:

  • hold onto the back of your chair or something else if you do not have a barre
  • with legs parallel, move one leg back into a lunge, bending the front leg accordingly
  • keep the pelvis upright so that you feel the stretch from the thigh muscle up over the hip joint
  • if no pain, bend the front knee a little until you are into a safe stretch position
  • hold fifteen to twenty seconds, and repeat two more times
  • release the stretch a little, and turn away from the front leg, slightly - for a stretch in the inner hip joint
  • repeat this twice
  • turn toward the front leg a little - for a stretch on the outer hip joint area, do three times the same

A quadriceps stretch:

  • standing legs parallel, pick one foot up, keeping your knees close, and grab the foot
  • bend it up toward your butt, stretching the front of the thigh muscle
  • when you are at the end of the stretch, move the thigh behind you slightly, extending the stretch
  • hold the stretch fifteen to twenty seconds, and repeat twice
  • repeat with the other leg three times

You can also do these stretches alternating legs instead of repeating the same side. If there is any sharp pain STOP. Ask a teacher or coach to check your positions before you continue.

With patience and persistence you will improve your ballet flexibility for cheer leadering.

Street Talk


Great article I am not going to be a cheer leader but it will help with some of the pole dance moves I am learning thanks!

  about 1 decade ago
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