Today was our first day back in dance class since Christmas break. Because it has been awhile since our bodies have had a good workout, I decided today would be a good day to get our feet back under us by concentrating more on the basics, mostly stretching. Stretching is a very important aspect of dance. Flexibility is key in most dance moves. If certain moves are attempted before stretching, it can cause serious muscle damage.The first step in stretching is warming up your muscles. I used to be a competitive figure skater, and before i stretched, I jumped rope. Stretching on cold muscles can be damaging to the muscles. It is like taking a rubber band and putting it in your freezer. If you try to stretch it out, it is more likely to break then if you tried to stretch a rubber band at room temperature.This is why most dance studios will keep the temperature very warm. Once you have warmed up your muscles, its time to stretch! How I lead my stretches is usually from the head down ( working the neck, the shoulders, the abs etc.), but everyone has a different stretching routine. There's really no right or wrong way to approach stretching, as long as it is approached in a safe way. Some signs to look for that you are over extending or over stretching your muscles are burning or intense sharp pain. If you ever start to feel this when stretching, just pull out of the stretch and give those muscles a break. I often tell my students about the things I have mentioned, to make sure they remember the proper ways to stretch on there own. As long as these things are kept in mind, stretch away!