Dancers go through intensive training, with little rest and a season that is year round. It is important for competition dancers, recreational dancers, and professional dancers to take care of their bodies to avoid injury and keep their performance at its best. Strength training is an effective way to improve technique and decrease injury risk, yet it is often under utilized in traditional dance education.
Due to the repetitive nature of traditional dance training, dancers are at risk for overuse injuries such as achilles tendinitis, hip labral tears, patellofemoral pain, and stress fractures. Lower extremity and core strengthening has been shown to reduce injury risk in professional ballet dancers, and is something that should be included in any dancer’s training. In a study performed by Houston Methodist Hospital looked at how a 30 minute dance specific strengthening program, performed 3 times a week, affected professional ballerinas risk of injury over 1 year. They found that the injury rate was 82% less in the dancers that were completing the strength training program.
American Ballet Theatre soloist, Roman Zhurbin, promotes strength training for dancers and emphasizes the importance of training in parallel. Working in parallel allows dancers to use their hip abductors and hip extensors, which are often neglected when working repetitively in a turned out position. Dancers often overuse certain muscles, such as their hip flexors, which can lead to painful and tight muscles and tendons. In addition to completing proper warm ups, stretching, and having proper nutrition, strength training can help dancers maintain more balance throughout the muscles in their body and limit the likelihood of injury.
Strength training is a great way for dancers to take care of their body and take their technique to the next level.
The videos below demonstrate a few exercises to improve hip and ankle strength
In traditional dance styles, dancers frequently work in a turned out position, which causes their hip flexors and adductors to do most of the work when we do a 𝑗𝑒𝑡𝑒́ or battement. Increasing the strength of your gluteus maximus (a hip extensor) and gluteus medius (a hip abductor), can help add power to your leaps and turns, improve your balance, and decrease back or hip pain!
Dr. Elena Markoulis demonstrates four exercises to improve your hip strength:
2. Clamshell in side plank
3. Lateral band walk
4. Single leg RDL with band
In ballet, dancers are constantly using their calf muscles when going on releve and pointe. Dancers can frequently experience achilles tendinitis and are at risk for ankle sprains due to the extreme positions they have to achieve on pointe and the amount of jumping that they perform. It is important for dancers to make sure they are working on their calf flexibility, and making sure ALL muscles in their foot and ankle are strong so that they can prevent injury.
Here are four exercises that you can do to improve your ankle and foot strength to become a stronger dancer:
– Resisted ankle eversion/inversion in a point and flexed position
– Toe walking with ball squeeze in parallel
– Developpes on dyna disk
– Jetés on airex pad
Frontiers | The Effect of 16 Weeks of Lower-Limb Strength Training in Jumping Performance of Ballet Dancers (frontiersin.org) –
The Rules of Conditioning: Roman Zhurbin’s Guidelines for Ballet Dancers (pointemagazine.com)
An Injury Prevention Program for Professional Ballet: A Randomized Controlled Investigation – Angelina M. Vera, Bene D. Barrera, Leif E. Peterson, Thomas R. Yetter, David Dong, Domenica A. Delgado, Patrick C. McCulloch, Kevin E. Varner, Joshua D. Harris, 2020 (sagepub.com) –
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