Ballet Stretches & Exercises for Sore Spots
The foot bone connected to the ankle bone,
The ankle bone connected to the shin bone,
The shin bone connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone connected to the hip bone,
The hip bone connected to the back bone,
The back bone connected to the shoulder bone,
The shoulder bone connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone connected to the head bone,
Them bones got up and they walked around.
Ready to Rev Up
Chances are you remember these lyrics from your childhood. The point is that all your bones, and hence, all your muscles groups, are connected together. When one is weak, it upsets the balance and affects how your other muscles work. For example, the hamstring helps keep your knees aligned properly, so if you have a weak hamstring, you will increase your risk of knee injury.
The following exercises take just 20-30 minutes, and target those trouble spots—you know, the ones that are extra-sore after that marathon rehearsal. These exercises are low-impact when performed correctly, don’t require expensive equipment, and are easy to incorporate into your day.
Start with three sets of each and aim for three times a week, or split the list in half and alternate between different muscle groups. You can adjust the duration and reps to your skill level if you find it too difficult or two easy. To make it more challenging, try these exercises with small weights (three to five pounds).
Not by My Shinny Shin Shin
Problem: Shin splints from petit allegro exhaustion.
Cure: Walk on your heels, toes pointed to the sky.
Duration: One to two minutes
Problem: Your knees can get ultra-sensitive and hurt from pliés and pointe work.
Cure: Doing lunges on a step rather than the floor to alleviate the pressure.
Duration: Eight lunges on each leg
Reps: Three sets.
Problem: Your feet are stressed and tight from standing on marley all day.
Cure: Stand on a golf ball with one foot and roll your foot over the ball back and forth a couple of times. Switch back and forth between feet.
Duration: One to two minutes.
Quadruple Those Quads
Problem: Grande pliés really kill those quad muscles, so you need to quadruple their strength.
Cure: Do downhill lunges down a gradual slope.
Duration: Eight lunges, alternating between each leg.
Problem: Your hamstrings get hammered after long adagios.
Cure: Sit straight-backed at the edge of a rolling office chair and walk the chair forwards with your feet. (Hint: A carpeted surface offers more resistance than bare floors).
Duration: One to two minutes
Inner & Outer Thigh Highs
Problem: The abductors and adductors don’t normally get used.
Cure: Do side skips by stepping to one side with one foot and then bringing your feet together in midair.
Duration: Skip eight counts in one direction, then switch and repeat in other direction.
Problem: You have poor posture by the end of a long class.
Cure: Lie on your back, straight-legged with your arms over your head. In a steady, controlled motion, extend your arms and legs upwards until your fingers reach your toes. Then in a steady, controlled motion, move your arms and legs back to original position.
Hot Tip: Inhale Deep
Remember to breathe when you do these exercises! If you find yourself holding your breath, one way to keep ‘track’ of your breathing is by breathing ‘out loud.’ This can be accomplished by pursing your mouth as if you are going to blow a whistle and exhaling through. When you inhale, inhale through your mouth as well as your nose. You may need to practice this breathing exercises a couple of times to get your breathing under control.
Suffer No More
Suffer no more from sore under-trained muscles by incorporating these exercises into your routine. Carving out 20-30 minutes a day may be challenging for you at first, but most of these exercises can be performed in front of the TV or even incorporated into the stretching or warm-up session before your regular exercise routine. If you still can’t find the time, then consider separating these exercises and doing them intermittently throughout the day instead of grouped together in one session.
Them shins, knees, ankles, hamstrings, quads, core, and thighs will get up and walk around if you do!