Most dance students understand that you can get more flexible for ballet by stretching your muscles. This is true, muscles can release tension, and be stretched in a safe manner. But many ballet/sports/fitness/cheer leading students and performers do not understand myofascia. Myofascia is a tissue that surrounds and connects your entire body – all the muscle groups and connective tissues from head to toe. This is not a clinical explanation. Just understand that myofascia can hold tension, can, in its layers, be capable of movement, or be sticky, like pieces of tape. This prevents you from getting more flexible and seeing progress in all your efforts to get better motion and higher leg extensions in ballet.
It happens from the top down. You want to release tension and increase flexibility for a higher arabesque, as just one example. After a ballet barre workout, you do the splits on both sides, bend forward over your front leg to stretch your hamstring, and then do a back bend to increase the stretch in your derriere hip and thigh area, as well as your psoas, or front abdominal postural muscle.
This stretches your leg muscles and your spinal/postural muscles.
But those muscles, and all your muscles and soft tissues, are wrapped in a tissue that might look like clear plastic wrap. I realize that this is a rustic image, but picture it. Within the wrapped section of your muscle groups, you are stretching muscles. But at each sectional end, there is a point of no stretch, no flexibility.
So from your hips to your legs, there is a point of no stretch, no give, in your fascia. What can you do?
You can learn to release tension, from your cranial (scalp) muscles, down through your neck/shoulder muscles, spine, hip and leg areas. This fascia tissue can be healthy and flexible, or through trauma (tears, impacts) can be scarred and sticky.
So while you warm up and stretch trying to get more flexible in every ballet and dance class, fitness session or cheer leading practice, you have this invisible “silent partner” to your muscle groups that cannot stretch anymore.
Of course there is a solution to this problem. Adding a regimen of myofascial release stretching starting with the scalp/neck/shoulder and working down the body, using a pinky ball where necessary, or a foam roller, will release the hidden tension that prevents you from getting more flexible.