I swear one of the biggest things us pole dancers complain about (or at least use as a convenient excuse when we can’t be arsed) is the lack of having time to stretch. I know I sure as fuck do. I’m out of the house for ten hours per day for work, and in the evenings, by the time my dogs have been walked and dinner cooked and eaten, fuck me trying to muster up the motivation to get some stretching done is an absolute gargantuan task – I’m sure there are plenty of you who are also in the same boat!
Thankfully help is at hand in the form of the flexy and fabulous lady Kitty Stone. As the resident expert of all things bendy at Pink Kitten Dance School, I asked Kitty what stretches she recommends us pole dancers do when we are struggling to find the time to get a longer stretching session in. Get ready for a pretty useful blog for once!
Downward dog stretch
“You should be able to feel the stretch down the backs of your legs and in your armpits. Hands and feet shoulder distance apart. Keep elbows straight and try not to turn arms/elbows outwards. Push armpits towards ankles, push bum upwards and try to get your heels down towards the floor, Squeeze your quads to try and straighten your knees.”
Downward dog two
“Lift one foot off the floor and keep your abdominals engaged. You should feel an increased stretch along the back of the leg which is still on the floor.”
“Should be felt in your hip flexor at the top of your back leg. Bring one leg forwards in line with your hips, check back foot is in a line with your hips too. Engage abs and tuck pelvis, squeeze glutes and lean forwards bending the front leg. Make sure your knee is stacked above your ankle. Add a hand pushing down & fowards on the side where your leg is behind you. Reach the other hand up. Remember to try not to twist hips and get the top of the back leg as close to the floor as you can.”
Lunge & Latts
“You should feel this in your hip flexor and along your side. Set up your lunge stretch. Reach same arm as front leg down beside your hip (you can hold onto blocks or something to stabilise you or if you can’t reach the floor). Keep your lunge low and hips facing forwards. Reach other arm up and over the top leaning across the front leg. Try to keep elbow straight and look up to the ceiling. Stay low in your hip flexor stretch.”
“Feel the stretch open out your chest. Make sure abs are engaged and pelvis is tucked (don’t stick your bum out or arch your back). Roll shoulders back and downwards. Link hands behind back and try to lift them upwards away your your body. Squeeze shoulder blades together.”
Gravity hamstrings stretch
“Feel in the back of your legs, try to keep a straight back – this helps by looking upwards slightly with your head. Keep head up as your breath in and you can relax your head to look down when you breath out. Keep hips, knees and ankles stacked. Keep squeezing quads and try to keep knees straight – lift bum upwards. Use breathing and gravity to get as low as you can holding your elbows or you can hold onto a chair or yoga blocks if you need more support, try not to put too much weight into them if you are using something to help you.”
Gravity hamstrings with chest opener
“Combine the stretches mentioned above, starting with the chest opener and then carefully leaning forwards with a straight back. Keep squeezing the quads and between your shoulder blades together.”
“Should be felt in chest next to your shoulder/armpit. Stand at a wall with your feet under your hips. Have hand above elbow and put them on the wall. Try to get your shoulder onto the wall (it may not go all the way) and open out your chest by turning away from the wall. Turn your hips too. You can have your elbow in line with your shoulder to stretch the pec major or you can have it slightly higher to stretch the pec minor. Make sure you engage your abs and tuck your pelvis.”
“This one will be felt in your inner thighs. Put your feet together and close to you. Hold your ankles and sit up straight. Actively squeeze your bum to try to get your knees down to the floor. Hold the squeeze for a few seconds then relax. Repeat 10 times.”
Diamond and lean forwards
“Same as above, but keep the squeeze to have your knees down. Now use your elbows to help push the legs downwards more. Lean forwards. Try to get your back straight by looking up with your head every time you breath in. Try to lengthen your spine. You can also try going in slow circles leaning over each leg too.”
Half diamond and Latts
“You will feel this stretch along your side from your armpit down to the hip and in your inner thighs. Sit with one leg in diamond and the other leg straight outwards. Squeeze bum to keep knee down as much as you can. Squeeze quad on straight leg to keep knee straight. Reach upwards with the same arm as bent leg then slowly lean sideways, keep both bum cheeks down on the floor. Keep elbow straight and look towards ceiling. Bend other arm and try to get it down on the floor. You can push it into your leg to try and widen your half diamond leg stretch.”
Glute stretch at wall
“You’ll feel this one in your bum! Lie down with legs above hips bum as close to the wall as it will go. Bend one leg and put your ankle above knee. Bend the other leg which will start push your calf towards you. Aim 1: try to get ankles and knees in a straight line. Aim 2: Push nearest knee upwards to increase stretch further.”
Good grief Kitty knows her shit when it comes to stretching! If you’re in the Bristol area and fancy trying out Kitty’s stretch classes, it’s £8 drop in (prebook on goteamup) and you can book here.
The classes are usually led by Kitty Stone or Tabitha Tease. All photographs were taken by Jessica Axford.