The Rockettes' Flexibility Exercises Will Have You Doing Sky-High Kicks In No Time

If anyone can attest to the importance of stretching, it's the Rockettes. Try some of the flexibility exercises they rely on to improve your own mobility even if you aren't on stage.

Photo: Courtesy of MSG Entertainment

It's easy to list the reasons why the Radio City Rockettes' performances are a sight to behold. Their perfect synchronicity is a big one, along with their stamina, which allows them to perform about 300 kicks per show. The dancers' flexibility is another key contributor to the "Wow!"-factor of the "Christmas Spectacular." One of the Rockettes' signatures is the "eye-high kick," a "toe to eye" kick with legs parallel and slightly crossed. Enough said.

The dancers make all of it somehow look easy, but it takes effort behind the scenes. When it comes to maintaining flexibility, the Rockettes do a lot of stretching, and you can benefit from following suit whether or not you have aspirations that include a spotlight. Stretching can help you avoid pain and injury, maintain proper form during workouts, and improve your posture, among other benefits. (

Courtesy of MSG Entertainment

If you've ever envied the Rockettes' flexibility, you can steal some of the stretches they rely on. These stretching exercises for flexibility all play a role in preparing the dancers for the demands of their routines. For example, the lyrical "Snow" scene calls for a hurdler stretch to keep their hips limber for extensions while standing hamstring stretches prep the back of their legs for those eye-high kicks. Whether or not your stretching abilities match the Rockettes', you can add these exercises to your flexibility workouts to stay limber. (

The Rockettes' Go-To Flexibility Exercises

How it works: Perform each stretch for the indicated amount of time.

You'll need: A mat, a towel or yoga/stretching strap, a high bar or table, and a step platform or stair.

Hurdler Stretch

Note: While the Rockettes have learned to safely perform this stretch, it's important to note that it's not appropriate for everyone. Some experts don't recommend the hurdler stretch because of the stress it can place on the bent knee.

A. Sit with legs extended in front of body, feet flexed, hands resting on thighs. Gently fold left leg by bending knee and tucking the sole of left foot against the inside of right thigh. Sit tall with head aligned with spine and shoulders squared with hips.

B. Engage abdominal muscles to stabilize low back and slowly bend forward from hips, sliding hands down legs toward ankle. Keeping back flat and head aligned with the spine, continue bending forward until feeling a stretch through right hamstring and calf muscle.

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Hamstring Stretch with a Step

A. Stand facing a step platform or stair. Place right heel on the platform with foot flexed.

B. Soften the knee of left leg and lean forward, bringing chest toward right knee, while keeping back flat and hips square.

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Half-Kneeling Psoas Stretch

A. Start in a half-kneeling position with left foot forward, with both legs bent at 90 degrees. Engage abdominals, squeeze right glute, and tuck pelvis under to stabilize low back.

B. Slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in right quad and hip flexors.

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Deep Side Lunge Stretch

A. Stand with feet parallel and shoulder-width apart.

B. Step out to left side keeping shoulders and hips squared. Slowly bend left knee lowering body, keep your knee and foot aligned vertically. Left thigh should be almost parallel to the floor.

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Supine Hamstring Stretch

A. Lie flat on back with legs extended. Place strap or towel around the arch of the left foot.

B. Slowly raise left foot up toward the ceiling keeping the knee straight while right leg and hip maintain connected to the floor. Keep the upper body relaxed with upper arms connected to the floor and elbows bent.

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch sides; repeat. Repeat with legs in a turned-out position.

Hamstring Stretch with Table

A. Stand facing a high bar or table. Place your right heel on the table with foot flexed.

B. Soften the knee of left leg and lean forward, bringing chest toward right leg, keeping back flat and hips squared.

Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles