The first thing a dancer hears from the instructor in ballet class is to “stand tall” and “tighten the belly.” Dancing requires the use of the whole body and activation of many muscle groups simultaneously. In order to perform jumps, leaps, and turns beautifully and without causing injury to the body, a dancer must keep their torso completely supported through core activation.
To ensure that a dancer’s torso is fully supported throughout an entire performance, building core endurance is essential. There are several muscles that comprise the core and many are not strengthened or stimulated by the average sit-up. Here are a few core exercises that are safe and effective for anyone wanting to strengthen their core endurance.
- Planks – these should be done with the abdomen facing the floor and the body completely level, with the body being supported by the feet and elbows and hands flat on the floor, hold for as long as possible without losing form.
- Side Planks – these should be done on the left and right side and the body completely straight, with the body being supported by the feet and one elbow/forearm, hold for as long as possible without losing form.
- Supine Opposite Arm and Leg – lie on your back with arms extended towards the ceiling and the hips/knees bent at 90 degrees. The back should not be arched, but flat against the floor with the core muscles activated for stability. Keeping the core tight, extend opposite arm and leg to parallel to the floor slowly and return to start position.
- Side Crunch – lie on your left and right side with arm flat on side, contract side muscles and slide hand down thigh.
The key to dancing is stamina and maintaining proper posture throughout a performance. These exercises are designed to provide endurance training of the core muscles and will translate to solid performances. These few exercises will train the muscles to have lasting endurance for every fouette and arabesque.
About the Author:
Sara is a Certified Athletic Trainer in the Tampa Bay area, who has been actively involved with dance and high school sports since she moved to Florida in May 2010. Sara has first hand experience with ballet and jazz, having been a member of the Mystic Ballet Company in Connecticut for 15 years. Her passion and understanding of the dancing athlete combined with the knowledge of athletic training has provided very beneficial treatment protocols and return to stage programs.