Dancer’s Typical Warm-Up And Cool-Down Routine

Do you notice how dancers would prepare for their rehearsals backstage or at dance studios?

You got it, they warm up before and cool down after they turn into dance machines!

Be it a ballerina, a contemporary dancer, or a hip-hop dancer, an effective warm-up incorporates both dynamic and static exercises as ascertained by the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science.

Fret not, a warm-up involves simple stretching and rhythmic movements; nothing too fancy or draining. The idea is to work away that stiffness and build up that energy for the main dance workout.

Basic warm-ups for all dancers (Active and Static Exercises)

  • Active Stretching

Dynamic Warm-ups activate the muscles and joints. By promoting blood flow and hence, greater oxygen delivery to tissues and muscles, the risk of injuries and muscle soreness is lower. Dynamic movements also wake up the nervous system, helping our brain to “tell” our muscles to work faster. 

Spend around 30 to 60 seconds on each of some popular dynamic movements listed below.

Jumping jacks 

  • Such a series of small movements help elevate your heart rate and blood flow, preparing your muscles for static stretching afterward

Credits: Iowa Now

Forward and lateral hip or leg swings 

  • Warm up your groin, glutes, thighs, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors through a comfortable range of motion 

Credits: The Kensington Studio

Neck isolations

  • Reduce stiffness and increase mobility in your neck and back 

Credits: Health Jade

During a warm-up, our body temperature rises which keeps our muscles pliable, our joints loose, and our blood flowing faster. Besides lowering the likelihood of aches or strains, this enhances our range of motion and thus, the quality of our dancing. We can stretch more, kick more powerfully or perform more moves within a given time during a routine. This is why warm-ups are promoted by numerous fitness institutions such as the American Council on Exercise, U Live, and FitBit.

  • Static Stretching

After a dynamic warm-up, perform static stretching. You will be stretching your body to a point of tension and holding the stretch for some time, usually 20 to 60 seconds. By lengthening and loosening your muscles, you can improve your long-term flexibility. Additionally, static stretching tends to be included in cool-downs but for a longer duration, to fix tightness in the muscles for better muscle recovery. 

Some common static stretches are as follows.

Cobra pose

  • Releases tension in your lower back muscles

Credits: Ekhart Yoga

Forward fold

  • Stretches out tight hamstrings and calves

Credits: Body+Soul

Lunges or split stretches

  • Loosen your groin muscles

Credits: Healthline

 

Basic cool-downs for all dancers

Before going into the recovery stretches, walk around the studio for a few minutes. This is a way to gradually ease into the stretches without abruptly changing your pace. Once you begin stretching those tired limbs, spend up to 60 seconds in each stretch.

 

In addition to the static exercises shared previously, here are some favorite cool-down exercises for dancers worldwide.

 

Butterfly position

  • Stretches your inner thighs and hip flexors

Credits: Byrdie

Supine spinal twist

  • Relieves pain in your lower back, spine, and hips
  • Massages abdominal tissues

Credits: Verywell Health 

Calf stretches

  • Reduces the likelihood of strained calves, which are highly common for new dancers 

Credits: Ingenio Virtual

The slower, gentle rhythmic movements help decrease your body temperature and prevent symptoms such as light-headedness and dizziness. Moreover, cooling down gets your heart back to its resting rate so that you will not be out of breath.

And not forgetting about the annoying lactic acid build-up in your muscles from the main dance, cooling down releases it, along with the cramps and discomfort it often causes.

Proper Recovery Stretches After Dancing

The post-dance stretch is one of the most important parts of getting ready for the next class. But it doesn't always happen. If you dance every week, sometimes you don't even take the time to warm up properly before class starts or cool down after class ends.

To make the most out of your pre-and post- dance preparation, it will be good to research the muscle groups or joints that you want to focus more on. Perhaps you realize that you are prone to injury in certain areas, or that you are simply curious about how each exercise works. With that, coming up with a checklist of warm-ups and cool-downs that target specific body parts is extremely useful to ensure that you (or your dance instructor) do not miss out on anything. 

On another note, you are always free to modify the exercises shown to you in class! For instance, if doing a particular movement for 60 seconds is too strenuous, you can break it up into 3 sets of 20 seconds. Always pay attention to how you feel and don’t overexert yourself. Happy dancing away!


Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form

Liyana Mokhtar Hussein
Liyana enjoys exploring different cultures and cuisines during my travels.


What Others Are Reading

Can You Make Your Ballet Shoes Last Longer?
Can You Make Your Ballet Shoes Last Longer?
What carries the ballerinas during their moments of glory in decadent theatre shows and box offices hits, such as the...
Read More
Dancers Spotlight: Bailey Sok
Dancers Spotlight: Bailey Sok
This is the first part of a mini series on talented foreign dancers who have been recruited by K-pop agencies to chor...
Read More
How Long Are Dance Recitals (Breakdown)
How Long Are Dance Recitals (Breakdown)
The Guinness World Record for the "Longest dance marathon by an individual" is 126 hours. Don't worry, a dance recita...
Read More
Famous Cheerleaders In History
Famous Cheerleaders In History
Cheerleading in the US dates to the 1880s when it quickly took as a popular supporting act to other sports like footb...
Read More
Can I Learn Ballet At 20? (Based on Experience)
Can I Learn Ballet At 20? (Based on Experience)
I quit ballet about a decade ago. I’d danced for about 8 years, and loved it with every inch of my being. Can you lea...
Read More
Elements of Cheer Dance (in An All-Girls Team)
Elements of Cheer Dance (in An All-Girls Team)
When the docuseries Cheer made its debut on Netflix in 2020, the cheerleading world, though already popular among you...
Read More