The FlexExpress arch and foot stretcher provides the ideal way to improve and strengthen your foot, in order to increase the height and shape of your arch. This then allows dancers to consistently achieve proper foot positioning, and technique across all genres of dance.
FlexExpress is a family owned business that developed out of the need for a more effecient, more comfortable, and safer way to get the results needed regarding foot position and strength, in order to reach a higher level of dance training and technique.
Like most young dancers, our two daughters aspire to reach their maximum potential in every aspect of the art of dance, and the FlexExpress is a key tool that has consistently helped improve their overall performances.
Stretching is the deliberate lengthening of muscles in order to increase muscle flexibility and joint range of motion. Stretching activities are an important part of any exercise or athletic activity program. Stretching helps to warm the body up prior to activity thus decreasing the risk of injury as well as muscle soreness, and improves the overall strength of the dancer or athlete.
The benefits of stretching are many and have been proven through various studies over time. Stretching benefits people of all ages, across every aspect of dance, and athletic performance.
The Benefits of Stretching
According to the Mayo Clinic, the top five benefits of stretching include:
- Increased flexibility and joint range of motion:
Flexible muscles can improve performance across every range of motion. Tasks become easier and less tiring as flexibility and strength increase as a result of proper stretching.
- Improved circulation:
Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Blood flowing to your muscles brings nourishment and gets rid of waste byproducts in the muscle tissue. Improved circulation can also help shorten your recovery time if you've had any muscle injuries.
- Better posture:
Frequent stretching can help keep your muscles from getting tight, allowing you to maintain proper posture. Good posture can minimize discomfort and keep aches and pains at a minimum.
- Stress relief:
Stretching relaxes tight, tense muscles that often accompany stress.
- Enhanced coordination:
Maintaining the full range-of-motion through your joints keeps you in better balance. Coordination and balance will help keep you mobile and less prone to injury from falls, especially as you get older.
Proper Stretching Technique
It is essential to practice proper stretching techniques. Doing so will allow you to avoid any unnecessary injury. Tips to proper stretching technique include the following:
- Warm up first
Stretching muscles when they're cold increases your risk of pulled muscles. Always warm up by starting stretching exercises at low intensity for 2-3 minutes before increasing the intensity and duration.
- Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds
It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds — and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle or problem area. That can seem like a long time, so keep an eye on the clock to make sure you're holding your stretches long enough.
- Don't bounce
Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears (micro tears) in the muscle, which leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. The scar tissue tightens the muscle even further, making you even less flexible — and more prone to pain.
- Focus on a pain-free stretch
If you feel pain as you stretch, you've gone too far. Back off to the point where you don't feel any pain, then hold the stretch.
- Stretch both sides
Make sure your joint range of motion is as equal as possible on each side of your body
Using the FlexExpress:
The FlexExpress arch and foot stretcher is intended to be used in a manor that allows the user to gradually progress the level of intensity of the stretch over time, but NEVER to the point of pain. This is done by first beginning with very minimal pressure, and limiting the amount of flex applied to the foot and arch. To accomplish this correctly, the user should be positioned on the ground on a flat, level floor, stage, studio floor, etc., in a sitting position with their legs out in front of them. The user then places the FlexExpress out in front of them parallel to their outstretched legs, and then begins by inserting the foot being stretched, toes first, into the foot sleeve of the FlexExpress as shown below:
As the dancer / athlete becomes comfortable stretching over time, and as long as they are able to stretch with no pain, they can move their foot deeper down into the foot sleeve to increase the resistance and flex of the foot and arch. Determining where to place the foot being stretched when first beginning to use the FlexExpress will be determined greatly by the size of the users foot, and their overall flexibility of their arch and feet when they first begin.
As with any stretching excersice, care should be used to follow proper stretching technique, and never stretch to the point of pain.
It is recommended that stretching with the FlexExpress be alternated from one foot to the other for a stretching period of 30 – 60 seconds on each foot, for a total duration of a 5 – 8 minute session. This can be increased slightly over time as the dancers/athletes overall flexibility and strength increases.
Remember to always focus on keeping good posture and form through the stretching process. This will allow the user to properly align their leg, knee, and foot in order to have the greatest impact on strength and flexibility, As well as allow them to get results faster and avoid injuries.