Step kick, step kick, turn, reach up, drop to your—oooouccchhhh!—knee. Put it on record: I strained my hamstring by kneeling on the ground, practicing the routine for a class of 6-year-olds. Really, it’s just comical…except that it hurts. A lot.
I know what you’re thinking: “Jenny, didn’t you learn your lesson last year, when your class was learning grand jeté and you thought it was a great idea to show your students what the actual step looks like—despite your hip labral tear and not being all that warm?” You’re right. Leaping full-out to impress my class was not a good idea. In fact, it was just silly.
This, I thought, was different. I warm up with my kids—I do the stretching, pliés, relevés and all that jazz. I mean, we’re not practicing fouettes in this class; I don’t lift my legs past 45-degrees and I don’t jump.
But I’ve certainly learned my lesson. A week of not walking up or down stairs comfortably has truly showed me the importance of warming up on my own before class. Any class, at any level. The studio is cold and I’m getting older—I’m not indestructible.
So I offer this advice: WARM UP! I hurt myself simply by bending down to one knee; I am sure there are easy actions lurking around the corner that can put you out of commission for some time, too. Even when you don’t think it’s necessary, it is.
If you’re looking for a new pre-class routine, check out this article by Debra Vogel. It’s geared for students, but the exercises are perfect for us, too.
Also, here’s a checklist of ten easy ways to make sure you stay at your optimal level, always.
Photo from Principles of Anatomy and Physiology. Take time stretching your hamstrings—the muscle group affects so much more than just the back of your leg. We're talking your hip, knee, back, pelvis, feet—everything. Don't be fooled by your students' (or your) high extensions—most likely their hamstrings are still tight, especially if they're hyperextended. Stretch 'em out!