How to Get Flexible Fast

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Showing grace, strength, and flexibility, the high kick has represented high-performance quality since the mid-1800s, when the can-can emerged in Paris and took the world by storm. To this day, if we see a dancer kick high, we assume they have great technique.

A great technical foundation plus some smooth fake-it-til-ya-make-it maneuvers can get you a job. So in order to achieve that elusive kick-your-face move in auditions, we’re going to get you flexible...and fast. All it takes is three simple stretches.

These stretches will enable higher kicks by stretching the hips, hamstrings, and quads, and strengthening the core. Soon, you should have much more impressive height on those high kicks.

Warm up before stretching

Begin your stretching session by warming up your body with some moderate cardiovascular exercise (jogging, taking the stairs, jumping jacks, etc.), and a few sets of squats and lunges to activate the legs and get blood flowing. Then get ready to limber up.

Stretch #1: Wide-legged forward fold

Wide-legged forward fold stretch

Get those hamstrings, inner thighs, and hip stretched out with this move.

  1. Stand in a wide parallel second position (feet pointed forward, legs about three feet apart).
  2. Put your hands on your waist and roll your shoulders down your back.
  3. Tighten your abs, and while keeping knees straight, bend at the hips and bring the top of your head toward the floor.
  4. Place your hands between your feet or on a stool/yoga block if you don’t reach the ground (yet!).
  5. Hold for 30-60 seconds before slowly returning to stand.

READ: “The Dancer’s 5-Minute Workout”

Stretch #2: Standing split

Standing split stretch

Don't let the name freak you out! This stretch elongates the inner thighs and hamstrings while working on your lower body strength and stability—both of which are very important for kicks.

  1. Stand tall with your feet together, abs engaged.
  2. Bend forward at the hips and bring your hands to the floor next to your feet.
  3. Use a yoga block or books for assistance if you can’t yet reach the floor. (It’s more important to keep your legs straight than for your hands to touch the ground since the aim here is flexibility.)
  4. Engage your thighs by pulling up above the knees, then shift your weight onto your right foot as you lift your left leg into the air behind you, raising it as high as possible.
  5. Keep your hips square.
  6. Hold for 30-60 seconds (don’t forget to breathe!).
  7. Lower the left leg and repeat on the other side.

Stretch #3: Hip-opening lunge

Hip-opening lunge stretch

Wake up your hip flexors, inner thighs, and quads with this low lunge.

  1. Come into a low lunge with the right leg bent at a 90-degree angle to the floor, knee over ankle, with the left leg extended long behind you.
  2. Lower your left knee to the floor and relax the left foot. (You may want to place a mat or towel under that left knee if you have an injury or sensitivity.
  3. Take both to the inside of the right foot and lower down so your elbows and forearms are on the ground.
  4. Drop your hips as close to the ground as they’ll go and hold for 30-60 seconds.
  5. Slowly return to standing, and repeat on the other side.

How long does it take to get flexible?

If you do the bare minimum, this whole sequence only takes six minutes; and if you do these stretches four times a week, you’ll see a huge improvement in your flexibility. The more often you stretch, the faster those kicks will look fierce.

Want to practice more of your moves? Check out our dance audition listings!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Erika Shannon
Erika Shannon is a choreographer, teacher, and movement coach, working with dancers of all levels, singers, models, and fitness enthusiasts to help them move their bodies with confidence and connect to movement so it makes sense. Her signature online dance program, Don’t Dodge the Dance Call, has been featured in several theatrical publications, including Backstage!
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