High Kick Your Flexibility


Edited by: KELSEY CRUZ


Have you ever watched a cheetah run? A cheetah’s anatomy and physiology is designed for high speeds, and PBS attributes its speed to the shape of its head and its range of motion. In order to become more cheetah-like and improve your range of motion, fine-tune your flexibility.

“Improving your flexibility changes the way your body functions,” says personal trainer Stacy Helfinstine. “Your muscles, ligaments, and tendons are all connected, and you want to keep everything loose. If you start to tighten up, you’ll be prone to injury and chronic pain [during and after exercise].”

A wider range of motion will improve your performance on and off the field, allowing you to take wider strides during a race with less risk of injury. Or – if you’re a musical theatre dancer like Jayne Abbate –flexibility can help improve high kicks and increase coordination.

Abbate, a graduate nurse and dance coach for The Players Guild Theatre in Canton, Ohio, understands how important flexibility is for herself and her students.

“I make sure to stretch every single day, and I’m showing the children and adults how to stretch before we begin dance rehearsals,” she says. “Improved flexibility helps to create the smooth, graceful movements needed for a dance number.”

Helfinstine finds stretching also helps alleviate hamstring and back pain.

“Tight hamstrings are a common complaint for my clients,” she says. “They’re connected to the hips. This is why I think flexibility of the hips – the center of the body – is one of the most important. My clients come to me with chronic lower back pain, and I show them how to stretch and strengthen their hips.”

To improve flexibility, Helfinstine suggests joining a yoga class with personal training sessions because “holding stretches requires muscle strength.” And since warm muscle is more elastic, she also suggests warming up your sweat session with 5-10 minutes of cardio.

“Don’t overstretch because you don’t want to hurt yourself,” Abbate advises. “Flexibility is a process. Take one day at a time and challenge yourself while maintaining proper form.”




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Categories: Your Fitness

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