The benefits of stretching is taught to all athletes. In school, safe stretching needs to be taught for physical education classes.
For classical ballet, safe stretching helps you avoid injury. Once soft tissues are torn, inflammation and scar tissue will form. In ballet shoes and pointe shoes, and in most sports, you want uninterrupted training. Whatever kind of ballet/sports/fitness you love, you can build strength, stretch, and avoid dancing in pain.
If you like to stretch before class, some warm up is absolutely necessary. Some loose leg and arm swings, and easy bending forward and sideways is a good way to start. Deep breathing while you do this adds to the warm up.
If you feel stiff from sitting at an office desk, or driving, walk on the spot for one minute. Lift your feet and pump your arms a little, this gets lots of muscle and joints moving.
The end of the class or workout is an ideal time to stretch. If it is not possible because the next class is starting, and you cannot find another place in the studio to stretch, wear leg warmers or sweats home. Sometimes you'll feel warmed up for quite a while after class. You can stretch at home immediately or take a hot bath then stretch. Soaking with epsom salts or sea salt is healthy for the muscles. The minerals help draw the acids out of your tissues.
Active stretching is where you stretch your own muscles. If you're sitting in second position, you can hang over each leg, and then hang forward. Stretching over each leg is going to stretch your hamstrings, and all the muscles, ligaments and tendons around your pelvis and hips. You can lean out sideways keeping your torso stretched long to stretch the hip joint area. Then you can do a side bend over the same leg, and you'll feel the stretch in the hamstring and the opposite hip and side of your torso. If you're stretching to the right, be sure to keep the left hip on the floor, and the left leg stretched.
Deep breathing provides enough movement to apply pressure to the stretch, you do not need to bounce.
If you can reach your feet in a second position stretch, you can pull yourself over the leg, hold the position for a minute or more, easing back if you start to feel real pain.
Passive stretching is when someone else stretches you. Stretching with a partner is not recommended until you are very advanced. A physiotherapist can stretch you properly, but if you avoid injury, you won't need that.
Stretching causes discomfort. Before you get to the point of pain, you are already stretching. You don't need to push to the point where you see lights before your eyes.
Get this amazing and simple to learn DVD to enjoy the benefits of stretching. If you avoid injury to your soft tissues you will dance in ballet shoes and pointe shoes, or enjoy your favorite fitness workout for many years.