Flexibility Expert Shares Important Tips

Flexibility. We all secretly hope we'll wake up one morning and be freakishly flexible. Flexibility expert, Stacey Nemour, is also known as a "miracle worker" when it comes to flexibility. Stacey has worked with people in various fields on how to improve their flexibility that will help them specifically in their field. Stacey created a specific order of stretches, methods and exercises to help the body open up and perform at optimum levels. She sells her flexibility tips on DVDs.

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Photo: Stacey Nemour, www.staceynemour.com Photo by: Tony Donaldson Photo

How did you get into learning about flexibility?

When I was very young I became obsessed with gymnastics, dance and fitness. My next door neighbor and I started practicing gymnastics outside on the grass daily. We had a race to see who could get into the pancake straddle stretch and splits first and I won. What's interesting is, I innately knew how to stretch. My Intuition was always guiding me. I started to make up stretches to support whatever need I had and as I got older did the same for my clients. I was self-taught in the beginning. I went on to study all forms of dance, gymnastics, martial arts, and healing and meditation. In high school, I started teaching gymnastics at the YMCA. Then I was asked to teach advanced Kung Fu students how to do gymnastics so they could incorporate it into their performance routines.

When I first saw the students practicing I got goosebumps and in that instant I knew that Kung Fu would be my life-path. Over the years, I would be out kicking and stretching and all kinds of elite and famous pro-athletes of various sports would say, "Hey, I need to get flexible like that, would you please train me!"

That lead me to start designing specific programs for the person's exact needs. It did not matter if it was a Rhythmic Gymnast, Synchronized Swimmer or Soccer player. I could look at them and know exactly what they needed.

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Photo: Stacey Nemour, www.staceynemour.com Photo by: Robert Garrett

Finish the sentence. The keys to flexibility are...

1. Stretching properly with the correct form.
2. The body needs to be opened up step by step by doing the stretches in the correct order.
3. Using your breathing correctly is one of the biggest parts of getting results.
4. Relaxing and never force or bounce.
5. Warming up and cooling down regularly.
6. Dedicate certain days to just flexibility & core strength training.

What do you feel are the top 3-5 things dancers should focus on or include in their warm ups?

1. Create a sequence to wake up the major muscle groups to gently transition from whatever is going on in your day into a focused practice.

2. Listen to your body. If your body is talking to you, through back pain, shoulder pain or if you are unable to master a new dance move it is because you are too tight. I suggest you learn the best stretches for your specific needs, to avoid ending up with a lots of frustration and injuries.

3. Once warmed up, gently start practicing similar movements on the floor and at the bar, that you will be practicing or performing.

Do you encourage certain exercises or focuses for different ages?

From age 15 and up, I will incorporate ankle weights, if the client can already perform the exercises with the proper form. This can help someone go to the next level in flexibility. Other benefits from ankle weight work include: increasing the range of motion in your sport; Developing core strength that will enable someone to go from doing the splits on the floor and translate that into a kick high and holding the leg up in the air. It is more about the clients overall skills than someone's age that determines the type of training I would use.

Martial Artist and Kung Fu master Stacey Nemour. ©Tony Donaldson/tdphoto.com
Photo by: Tony Donaldson Photography

What advice do you have for dancers looking to increase their range of motion in their hips and shoulders?

For the hips:

Stretching the outer hips is extremely important. The reason those muscles get so tight, is because they are constantly used. Another factor is the inner thigh doesn't get used enough and in most cases is much weaker than the outer hips. This can lead to overcompensating by putting more pressure on back and hips. Outer hips stretches should always be included in the stretching routine. I also suggest adding resistance training to strengthen and stretch the inner thighs.

For the shoulders:

In my DVDs I demonstrate how to get a deeper stretch in my shoulders, by holding the wall and twisting away from it. I also have my clients do exercises with light dumbbells to stretch and strengthen the back and shoulders.

What are some common errors you see when watching dancers stretch?

Some dancers just perform stretches with the toes pointed and don't alternate between flex and point. This can create an imbalance in the body, if the feet do not get stretched the other way as well.

This can lead to injuries, because the Achilles Tendon has become too tight. When you perform a stretch with a hard flexed foot, it enables someone to stretch the calves, the back of the knee, hamstrings, and back.

The other error I notice when dancers are stretching in the butterfly wing position (or any other similar stretches) was pressing directly on the knees. Never turn out from the knees to avoid serious knee issues. Press down where the top of the leg connects below the hip bone.

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Photo: Tony Donaldson Photography

What are some myths about flexibility?

When people believe they are old too increase their flexibility.

The truth is, anyone of any age can become more flexible, if they learn to do it properly and commit to it.

What do you wish dancers knew?

A. That the mind controls the body. See yourself exactly the way you wish to be and the body will follow and do exactly what you believe you are capable of.

B. Stay away from cigarettes and starving to be thin. Treat food as medicine and learn to eat foods that heal and balance the body. Then you will not have to worry about weight. You'll also perform at top level while feeling and looking your best!

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Photo: Dance Reportage; Stacey Nemour working with Ballet Freak's Robbie Downey! Read her interview with us here!

How do you define flexibility?

To have the full range of motion in ones sport with-out pain or strain.

Why do you believe flexibility is important for dancers?

One's level of flexibility affects their form, alignment, the ability to have clean lines, proper technique, and injury prevention.

Where can we get your DVDs on flexibility?

www.staceynemour.com

For Booking

Stacey does private consultations, group lessons or Skype consultations. You can contact her at: info@staceynemour.com

Martial Artist and Kung Fu master Stacey Nemour. ©Tony Donaldson/tdphoto.com
Photo: Tony Donaldson Photo

FUN QUESTIONS:

Your favorite snack: Quest Bars! I went on a search for the healthiest protein bar with no junk, sugar or carbohydrates and Quest Bars was the best one. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is my favorite flavor at the moment.

Your favorite stretch: Sitting in middle and front splits, after I am warmed up.

Yoga or Pilates: Probably Yoga because I like the spiritual energy and well-being it can generate.

Stacey Nemour is a black belt in Kung Fu, and a highly respected martial artist and flexibility expert for over 25 years. She has been featured in Inside Kung Fu, Masters of Kung Fu, SELF magazine and most recently the March/April 2011 issue of Kung Fu Magazine. Stacey coached Ultimate Fighting Champion Vitor Belfort and the Carlson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Team for their triumphant championship fights on pay-per-view television. She also trained other world-class athletes including NBA player Jalen Rose and the Los Angeles Galaxy Soccer team. In addition to appearing on Fox Sports 11 News and guest starring in the popular television show “Power Rangers”, Stacey worked as a stunt coordinator and fight double for Cybill Shepherd on the TV show “Cybill”. She has performed in select video games and is working with elite synchronized swimmers & rhythmic gymnast and dancers preparing them for competition. She also currently writes for The Huffington Post and is featured in the training video for StretchGym™. Stacey is also known for her six very informative popular DVD's. Her top seller is "Secrets of Splits & Flexibility" all are available on disc or as a download @ www.staceynemour.com

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