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Benefits of Stretching During Barre
Oftentimes, many of us think about stretching as the basic, boring movements we typically avoid after a workout. Sometimes it’s a win if we have enough time to fit in a workout at all! When we do, we tend to either rush through the stretching part or simply avoid it all together, because who has the time? If you’ve ever wondered why the workout itself isn’t enough or why stretching matters, you’ve come to the right place. Because not only does stretching matter, it can also help with aging gracefully, increasing flexibility, and avoiding injury. At The Bar Method, we believe in the power of strength and stretch. That’s why all our barre class formats not only deliver challenging full-body workouts that leave you feeling stronger but they are mixed with intervals of stretching that. Keep reading to learn more about how our transformative workout uniquely incorporates stretching and how you can create a habit outside of the studio!
How The Bar Method Does Stretching Differently
Bar Method classes are set up in intervals of strength and stretch, so no need to find extra time to stretch after your workout. Instructors lead you through a series of both active and passive stretches, (we’ll get more into those later), intended to elongate and taper the muscle group just worked in the strength section. Not only do you stretch when your muscles are warm and ready for it, but the order of the intervals build upon one another as class continues. This makes for an exciting, yet effective, and targeted workout for both your mind and body. Our class design and structure are one of the secret ingredients of The Bar Method that keeps thousands of students across the country coming back year after year.
Our Stretch Varieties:
Not all stretches are created equal. Bar Method classes incorporate both static-passive and dynamic-active stretches throughout all class formats. Static-passive stretches are the most well known and most common. They involve holding a challenging, yet comfortable position for approximately 30 seconds. This type of stretch is considered ‘passive’ because it requires some sort of external force to assist with the stretch (I.e., a stretching strap, your hand, the barre, etc.) and you are static – not moving the underlying joints.
Dynamic-active stretches involve movement and are typically performed by moving through challenging yet comfortable movements repeatedly. Active’ stretching occurs by actively contracting the muscle opposite to it. In other words, you’re working one side of the body while stretching the opposite side. We do this often at The Bar Method, (think knee dancing, waterski seat, round-back and more). Dynamic stretches are favored by athletes, trainers, and physical therapists because they require you to use and build your own strength while moving through the stretch. These stretches also generate more heat and therefore make the muscle more pliable which is why you feel that extra burn in your thighs during these types of exercises. Evidence suggests that because dynamic-active stretches require muscle activation and contraction, the muscles being stretched are triggered to relax even more than they might during a static-passive stretch. This reduces the risk of injury while increasing the functional benefit. You can see how incorporating both types of stretches throughout barre class can add up to increased flexibility for your entire body.
We understand that stretching isn’t a one-size fits all activity. Every body is unique and deserves personalized attention when working with flexibility and mobility. Just like in the strength sections of class, instructors offer challenges and modifications for stretches, along with hands-on adjustments to help students maximize their effort and reach their individual goals.
5 Bar Method Stretches Everyone Can Do
For those stretching over-achievers or when you can’t make it to class, here are some Bar Method stretches that can be done anywhere.
Seated Hamstring Stretch: The key to toned and happy hamstrings is to stretch them! The back of the leg will look more sculpted and elongated when you remember to show your hamstrings the love and length they need. Our seating hamstring stretch is ideal for warming up your muscles before and after your Bar Method class. The best part? It’s so simple, you can do it anywhere at any time. Sit on the floor and extend your legs in front of your body. As you straighten them, you’ll most likely already feel a stretch along the back of your legs. Raise your arms up and drop your shoulders to get your back muscles in on the action as well. Fold forward over your legs. If this movement feels a little tight, don’t worry about touching your feet. Flexibility comes with time and requires patience. Instead, try placing your hands on your shins and keep your torso higher if that allows your leg to straighten.
Standing Quad Stretch: The secret to The Bar Method’s signature sculpted and elongated thigh muscle is stretching the quads when they are at their most moldable, after thigh-work. Plus, this is another stretch that can be done anywhere life takes you! Hold onto something supportive with your left hand and place your feet under your hips. Soften your knees. Hold onto your right foot with your same side hand. Align your knee under your hip. Grip your glutes, pull your bellybutton in and tuck your hips under. You will feel this lengthening your quads and hip flexors. Upright your spine to deepen the stretch and improve your posture. Keep this stretch in mind next time you get up after sitting for a long period of time. Take a few minutes to try our standing quad stretch and make sure to do both sides!
Waist Stretch: If it’s 4:00 PM during the workday and your body needs a little pick me up, then this waist stretch is about to be your new BFF. Start by placing your left hand on something to support you. Stand up tall and cross your right ankle behind your other. If the sole of your stretching side foot can’t touch the floor, place the top of your foot on the floor instead. Reach your left arm up and side stretch over in the opposite direction. Feel the stretch run along your obliques all the way up the side of your extended arm, then switch sides.
Puppy Stretch: We spend a lot of our day hunched over computers, cell phones, or a steering wheel. Combat this with a chest stretch to open the front of your body. To do a puppy stretch, come down to your hands and knees. Extend your arms out in front of you and shift your torso forward until your chest is lower towards the floor. Stick your hips up and keep your thighs vertically aligned. After holding this stretch for a few seconds, you will understand why our furry friends do this stretch so often!
Glutes Stretch: If you’ve taken a Bar Method class before, then you know the booty burn is real. Whether you’re a barre devotee or just looking to tone your peach, our glutes stretch is the cherry on top for all your efforts. After sculpting the side of your seat, mold your glute muscles closer towards the bone with the glute stretch. Sit down on the floor and bend your left leg in front of you at a 90-degree angle. Rest the side of your thigh and shin on the floor. Bend your right leg. Then, hold onto your right ankle and knee, one in each hand. Gently place your top right ankle on top of your bottom thigh so that your shins align one on top of the other. If your top knee is higher towards your torso or out to the side, that’s totally okay. Flexibility is different for everyone, and you’ll still get a great stretch, even if your knee is higher right now. If you want an even deeper stretch, slowly walk your hands forward or press from behind. We know you’ve been working to lift your seat, so make sure your hard work doesn’t go to waste by completing your seat work with this Bar Method stretch.
Next time you take class, give yourself the liberty to linger in stretches and breathe in all the benefits they offer your body and mind. The variety, sequence, and frequency of Bar Method stretches were thoughtfully considered as part of our technique to transform your body. Get ready, because changes in your body you didn’t think possible will begin to show up. Who knows, maybe the splits are in your future! You’ll never know until you start stretching. Sign up for your next or first Bar Method class and your body will thank you later.