Different elements of an effective warm up and cool down in Belly
by Jennifer Lim
Warm up and cool down are very important in any dance
practise. An effective warm up should help students reduce any pressures of the day and focus on dance. A
proper cool down will help ease any muscle tension and students should go away feeling relaxed and
Elements of an Effective Warm
Warm up prepares the body and mind for dance which will
contribute to a better performance. More importantly, warm up will help prevent the risk of injury.
The key elements of an effective warm up are:
1. Pulse Raising Activities
2. Joint Mobilising Exercise
3. Muscle Lengthening Movement
4. Class Specific Exercise
Engaging large muscle groups while performing low intensity
rhythmic movements such as travelling hip lifts and hip bumps whilst rotating shoulders and arms will
gradually raise our pulse rate. This consequently increases the supply of oxygenated blood to our working
muscles. Our body temperature will be increased by one or two degrees and our body will be warmed up without
any feeling of exhaustion and breathlessness.
As we move our joints in a controlled and normal range of
movement, synovial fluid are released in the joint. The synovial fluid lubricates our joints, ligaments and
the muscles. It thereby allows freer movement of the joints. This also improves the joints’ shock absorbing
qualities and enhances better proprioception.
Slow and controlled short stretches will help improve the
elasticity of our muscles and increase our range of motion. This element of warm up should only be executed
after “Pulse Raising Activities and Joint Mobilising Exercises”. That is when our joints and muscles are
warming up. For example, to execute figure 8’s and chest lift’s later on in the class, the warm up will
include dynamic stretches on the gluteal muscles, hip flexors and scapula
Warm up now progresses towards specific dance movements
needed during the class also students are reminded about correct dance posture. In a Belly Dance class, we
work on specific dance techniques, breaking down moves in small and easy sequences. This prepares the dancer
mentally and physically when learning dance moves.
Elements of Effective Cool
An effective cool down will help dancers minimise or
eliminate soreness and stiffness, help prevent injury and relaxes the mind and body. Hence it is important to
allocate enough time for cool down after dance activity.
Key element of effective cool
1. Pulse Reducer
2. Mobilise Joints
3. Stretch Muscles
Following a belly dance workout, it is important to
gradually reduce the dance intensity with continuous rhythmic movements of the main muscle groups for about 1
to 5 minutes. Walking gently with moves such as grapevine and snake arms will gradually decrease the heart
and breathing rate, help get rid of any waste products such as lactic acid accumulated by the muscles and
increase circulation thus reducing the chance of “blood pooling”.
The following exercise helps to mobilise joints and relieve
joint tension in Cool Down especially those used excessively in the class. They also help release any tension
to the spine as a result of prolong standing on our feet.
Rolling forward through our spine in slow movements whilst
bending the knees slightly
Rolling up gently
Do this movement in slow
Stretching should be carried out when the muscles are still
very warm. Muscles that are tight, contracted or shortened during dance will be released and
lengthened. By moving slowly into a static stretched position
then gently applying pressure the muscles begin to relax. Each
stretch should be held for 10 to 20 seconds to bring the muscles back to pre-exercise length. Stretching
during cool down is an ideal way to develop and improve flexibility. Stretching the oblique muscles on the
right and left side will improve the range of motion in hip lifts and hip drops.
Warm up and cool down is essential to ensure longevity in
dance. The steps should be simple and safe and adapted to suit the current physical fitness and ages of the
students. These routines should be monitored carefully during classes to prevent unnecessary
Franklin, E. (2004). Conditioning for dance. Training for peak performance in all dance forms. Champaign, IL: Human
Harris & Elbourn (2002). Warming up and cooling down:
practical ideas for ensuring a fun and beneficial exercise experience. Champaign, IL: Human
Kinetics 2 :12 1-7 (warm up) 3: 26-29 (cool
Laws, Marsh & Wyon (2006) Warming Up and Cooling Down.
Dance UK Factsheet