How to stretch for ballet

A Ballerina’s Workout Plan to Lose Weight

It’s not your mother’s dance world anymore. The great dancers always have been great jocks, but well-rounded athletic ability is more important today than ever. So 21st century dancers of all stripes, from ballerinas to those appearing on “Dancing with the Stars,” add gym workouts to their training. These workouts constitute cross-training — using cardio training, weightlifting, stretching and other forms of exercise to augment and enhance your dance training.

Aerobic Exercise

When San Francisco ballet star Elizabeth Miner found herself winded onstage, she realized it was time to hit the gym and cross-train. In addition to Pilates, she began working out on an elliptical trainer for 30 minutes three times per week. The results were substantial. “I felt more in control, able to think about other things onstage, like the music and movement,” she told “Pointe” magazine. Dance and fitness experts recommend elliptical machines, stationary bikes and swimming as excellent aerobic workouts for dancers. But you might want to avoid running on a treadmill or using a stair climber. Both activities can be tough on your joints and particularly on your knees.

Strength Training

“In the ballet world today, strong is the new skinny,” writes Jennifer Curry Wingrove, a former ballet star who now teaches Pilates to dancers. “Legs are raised higher, the lifts are more acrobatic and dancers are much stronger overall.” Some dancers shy away from weights, fearing they will develop bulky muscles instead of the long and sleek muscles of a dancer. But those worries are unfounded. As Broadway Dance Center states, you won’t develop the physique of a bodybuilder “unless you’re deliberately trying by drinking protein shakes and taking supplements.” For maximum strength workouts, use heavier weights with fewer reps. For toning, lighter weights and more reps are recommended.

Flexibility and Balance

If you’re a serious dancer, you’re probably already into Pilates and/or yoga. When Pilates was invented by Joseph Pilates, who opened a studio in New York after emigrating to America in 1925, it attracted top dancers and teachers. The lure for dancers is as strong as ever. Pilates was created to build strength and increase flexibility without increasing bulk, so it has been referred to as “the cross-training of choice” for dancers. Dance Spirit says Pilates enhances your extension and movement quality when you dance. It also helps determine which parts of your body are weak or tight and thus prone to injury. Yoga also offers complementary benefits for dancers, ranging from stress relief to increased flexibility and balance. Yoga poses often focus on the feet, which enhance your balance and make your lower legs looser and more agile.

Consideration

Lauren Warnecke, writing for Dance Advantage, recommends that you carefully consider what type of gym workout to adopt. “Ask yourself what you can get from this form of exercise that you can’t otherwise get from dance,” Warnecke advises. “If the answer is ‘not much,’ try something different.” A gym workout that serves as an effective cross-training activity for a dancer “is not dissimilar from eating a balanced diet.” The right gym workout for you will complement your dance classes and make you a totally fit dancer.

More Articles

Is it Safe or Hard on Knees to Wear Ankle Weights While Rebounding? →

Is Pilates or Gyrotonics Better for Ballet? →

Contemporary Dance Exercises →

  • Idea Health & Fitness Association: Pilates for an Aspiring Ballet Dancer
  • Broadway Dance Center: Cross Training for Dancers
  • Pointe Magazine: Cross-Training for Technique
  • Dance Spirit: The Do’s and Don’t of Cross Training
  • Dance Advantage: Should Dancers Cross-Train

Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.

How to stretch for ballet

Ballet is so much more than picking out a leotard, slipping into some tights, and strapping on ballet shoes. It’s about developing skills through dedication and perseverance. Although an athletic background helps, you don’t have to be a pro at dancing to enjoy the pros of ballet. Not convinced? Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:

Better posture

Ballet helps you achieve postural alignment. Each movement requires alertness of how you carry yourself from one stance to the other. Elegant forms such as the Port de Bras and High Swan Arms corrects sloppy posture by pulling your shoulders back and elongating your neck.

Boosts confidence

Anyone can do ballet. It begins with the innate desire to pursue ballet and setting achievable goals along the way. A study found that ballet training increased the diversity of subjects’ foot configuration. However, an experienced and amateur met comparable levels of postural control and stance difficulty. You will be amazed at yourself when you complete a posture that used to intimidate you.

Improves flexibility

Flexibility is not a prerequisite for ballet; you gain it through practice. Since ballet involves static and dynamic stretching, doing both will contribute to your overall flexibility.

How to stretch for ballet

Builds muscle and agility

Believe it or not, ballet is a combination of pilates and endurance training. It also entails breath coordination throughout your dance sequence. Doing plié squats, ballet jumps, and spins use your own body weight to strengthen your core and lower body. As you continue to practice more, you’ll maintain the integrity of precise movements and your motor skills.

Burns calories

Your body weight affects the number of calories burned in a 90-minute session. A person weighing over 120 pounds can burn about 200 calories or more in just 30 minutes, which is approximately 600 calories per session.

How to stretch for ballet

Nutritional consciousness

Whether you’re doing ballet as a casual or serious activity, you don’t want to feel bloated in class. Therefore, being mindful of what you eat will tremendously influence your experience. A well-balanced diet nourishes your body with the right things to complement your internal and external health.

Improves sensorimotor performance

The ability to balance yourself and react to external stimuli is indicative of how tuned your sensorimotor skills are. Participating in a ballet or dance program enhances these skills by engaging both hemispheres of the brain for coordinated learning.

Sharpens cognitive function

Similar to learning a new sport, becoming proficient in ballet challenges your brain to synchronize your form with the expectations. A meta-analysis found that ballet and other dance interventions were useful measures to limit age-related mental impairment such as dementia.

How to stretch for ballet

Relieves stress

Ballet should be about having fun and training your body to achieve forms you didn’t know were possible. Get a few chuckles out of your dance mistakes and focus on improving what you can instead of worrying about external issues you can’t change.

Builds social connections

Joining a ballet class and interacting with your group promotes a healthier life. It’s a great opportunity to make friends as you learn and grow together from new experiences. Building strong relationships lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and illness associated with it.

Improve your ballet and minimize injuries with 3 of the best ballet stretches.

by Brad Walker | First Published June 5, 2010 | Updated April 30, 2019

The earliest form of ballet was performed in large chambers with audience seated on galleries, with the floor pattern visible from above, to observe the choreography.

French courts later adopted ballet, and developed its style and techniques. French ballet master Raoul Feuillet recorded most of the technique in the 1700’s. In the 18th Century, when the use of pointe shoes started, ballet started declining in France but keep developing in Russia, Italy and Denmark.

Nowadays there are many recognized ballet methods and present day ballet dancers train just like athletes do.

How to stretch for ballet

Muscles used in Ballet

Although ballet dancers use all muscles, certain major muscle groups predominate. The muscles used also depend on the form of ballet and the gender of the dancer. For example, a male classical ballet dancer who performs lifts will require more upper body strength than a female dancer.

The following muscle groups are used predominantly by all ballet dancers.

  • Muscles of the lower back and core: the lower back is held erect by a number of muscle groups, including: the abdominals; the obliques; the spinal erectors; and quadratus lumborum.
  • Hip muscles: hip muscles relate to the pelvis and affect both the lower back stability and lower extremity balance. Hip flexors (iliopsoas) in particular are extensively used by ballet dancers. This muscle must be flexible enough to achieve a neutral pelvic position. Dancers with tight hip flexors, combined with weak abdominals, cause excessive pelvic tilt and increased disk compression in the spinal column.
  • Hamstrings: one of the most important muscles in dancers, as this muscle is used in almost every movement. A lack of flexibility and strength in this muscle can cause excessive compression forces in the lower back.

Most Common Ballet Injuries

Ballet dancers suffer injuries of similar severity and frequency as other athletes. Most injuries in dancers are of the chronic (or overuse) type, due to the repetitive nature of the training, but acute injuries can also occur when a dancer uses incorrect technique or experiences lack of focus and fatigue.

Most commonly, ballet dancers experience injuries in the lower limbs, hip and back.

  • Back strain;
  • Hip injuries, including iliospoas syndrome, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, hamstring strain and iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome;
  • Knee injuries, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprain, meniscus tear, and patellofemoral pain syndrome;
  • Shin splints;
  • Achilles tendinitis;
  • Ankle sprain; and
  • Foot and toe injuries, including plantar fasciitis, trigger toe and morton’s neuroma.

How to stretch for ballet

Injury Prevention Strategies

In order to minimize the occurrence of injuries dancers must attend to various areas that impact how their body will experience the training and performance.

  • Make sure you warm up properly before any training or performance.
  • Conduct a thorough cool down after each rehearsal or performance.
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness will help to prevent fatigue and build resistance to injury.
  • Strength training: Although dancers do not commonly use weight lifting, they can benefit greatly from dance specific strength training using one’s own body weight. Many dancers also find that regular core strengthening helps create good balance and control, thus minimizing excessive work by the wrong muscle groups.
  • Practice balance, agility and proprioception drills to improve knee and ankle stability.
  • Regular stretching: It is recommended that all ballet dancers incorporate a series of ballet stretches into their training, if not daily, then at least 3-4 times per week.
  • Instruction in proper technique is critical. Dancers must pay very close attention to proper posture and alignment: “shoulders over hips, over knees, over ankles” is an important concept to remember.
  • Pacing the training: This means, new more difficult movements and combinations should only be introduced when the dancer has developed sufficient strength, flexibility and technical foundation to perform the new movement correctly and with ease.
  • Manage fatigue and stress: Fatigue and stress cause muscle tightness and lack of focus, thus greatly increasing the risk of acute injuries.
  • While wrist braces, elbow and knee pads and ankle supports (braces, taping, strapping, etc.) may not go with the rest of the outfit on the actual dance night, during practice sessions and training it helps to wear a brace or wrap on any weak area.

The 3 Best Ballet Stretches

Ballet stretches are one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.

Below are 3 of the best stretches for ballet; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions with each stretch, and if you currently have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain please take extra care when performing the stretches below, or consult with your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the following stretches.

Instructions: Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

Improve your ballet and minimize injuries with 3 of the best ballet stretches.

by Brad Walker | First Published June 5, 2010 | Updated April 30, 2019

The earliest form of ballet was performed in large chambers with audience seated on galleries, with the floor pattern visible from above, to observe the choreography.

French courts later adopted ballet, and developed its style and techniques. French ballet master Raoul Feuillet recorded most of the technique in the 1700’s. In the 18th Century, when the use of pointe shoes started, ballet started declining in France but keep developing in Russia, Italy and Denmark.

Nowadays there are many recognized ballet methods and present day ballet dancers train just like athletes do.

How to stretch for ballet

Muscles used in Ballet

Although ballet dancers use all muscles, certain major muscle groups predominate. The muscles used also depend on the form of ballet and the gender of the dancer. For example, a male classical ballet dancer who performs lifts will require more upper body strength than a female dancer.

The following muscle groups are used predominantly by all ballet dancers.

  • Muscles of the lower back and core: the lower back is held erect by a number of muscle groups, including: the abdominals; the obliques; the spinal erectors; and quadratus lumborum.
  • Hip muscles: hip muscles relate to the pelvis and affect both the lower back stability and lower extremity balance. Hip flexors (iliopsoas) in particular are extensively used by ballet dancers. This muscle must be flexible enough to achieve a neutral pelvic position. Dancers with tight hip flexors, combined with weak abdominals, cause excessive pelvic tilt and increased disk compression in the spinal column.
  • Hamstrings: one of the most important muscles in dancers, as this muscle is used in almost every movement. A lack of flexibility and strength in this muscle can cause excessive compression forces in the lower back.

Most Common Ballet Injuries

Ballet dancers suffer injuries of similar severity and frequency as other athletes. Most injuries in dancers are of the chronic (or overuse) type, due to the repetitive nature of the training, but acute injuries can also occur when a dancer uses incorrect technique or experiences lack of focus and fatigue.

Most commonly, ballet dancers experience injuries in the lower limbs, hip and back.

  • Back strain;
  • Hip injuries, including iliospoas syndrome, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, hamstring strain and iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome;
  • Knee injuries, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprain, meniscus tear, and patellofemoral pain syndrome;
  • Shin splints;
  • Achilles tendinitis;
  • Ankle sprain; and
  • Foot and toe injuries, including plantar fasciitis, trigger toe and morton’s neuroma.

How to stretch for ballet

Injury Prevention Strategies

In order to minimize the occurrence of injuries dancers must attend to various areas that impact how their body will experience the training and performance.

  • Make sure you warm up properly before any training or performance.
  • Conduct a thorough cool down after each rehearsal or performance.
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness will help to prevent fatigue and build resistance to injury.
  • Strength training: Although dancers do not commonly use weight lifting, they can benefit greatly from dance specific strength training using one’s own body weight. Many dancers also find that regular core strengthening helps create good balance and control, thus minimizing excessive work by the wrong muscle groups.
  • Practice balance, agility and proprioception drills to improve knee and ankle stability.
  • Regular stretching: It is recommended that all ballet dancers incorporate a series of ballet stretches into their training, if not daily, then at least 3-4 times per week.
  • Instruction in proper technique is critical. Dancers must pay very close attention to proper posture and alignment: “shoulders over hips, over knees, over ankles” is an important concept to remember.
  • Pacing the training: This means, new more difficult movements and combinations should only be introduced when the dancer has developed sufficient strength, flexibility and technical foundation to perform the new movement correctly and with ease.
  • Manage fatigue and stress: Fatigue and stress cause muscle tightness and lack of focus, thus greatly increasing the risk of acute injuries.
  • While wrist braces, elbow and knee pads and ankle supports (braces, taping, strapping, etc.) may not go with the rest of the outfit on the actual dance night, during practice sessions and training it helps to wear a brace or wrap on any weak area.

The 3 Best Ballet Stretches

Ballet stretches are one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.

Below are 3 of the best stretches for ballet; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions with each stretch, and if you currently have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain please take extra care when performing the stretches below, or consult with your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the following stretches.

Instructions: Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.

Ballet stretching is absolutely necessary to every ballet dancer. There are many reasons why you don’t feel as flexible as you did yesterday, so let me share why you might not be improving and how you can progress.

Not all ballet dancers are naturally loose in their muscles. Most dancer’s have a good range of flexibility, but each person has to work very hard to maintain their flexibility and improve range.

Along with flexibility, dancers need to have a good amount of strength too.

Many dancer’s are actually too supple which means they have little strength to hold their legs high and maintain muscle strength.

The balance of flexibility and strength comes gradually with practice and it’s something you always have to work hard for.

Ballet Stretching

How to stretch for ballet

How to stretch for ballet

Why do we have to stretch? It’s important to stretch the muscles out to release tight limbs. Stretching lengthens your muscles and enables you to become more flexible for the demanding positions in ballet.

Ballet stretching is something you should get into the routine of doing during or after class. It can take as little as 15 minutes to make sure the muscles are stretched out and it’s important to do it on a regular basis, rather than once every so often.

It is true that EVERYONE has a different range of flexibility. There are many surprising factors that greatly affect your flexibility which yoy may not have realised.

Listen up and see why perhaps you don’t feel as flexible as you did yesterday.

Type of joint – Remember, flexibility is the range of movements in the joints and you won’t be equally flexible in every single joint. Just because you can do front splits, it doesn’t mean you will automatically be able to do side splits because not everyone is as flexible in every single joint.

Body Temperature – You should already know that you are DEFINITELY more flexible when you are warm.

Before ballet class, you will find the splits harder to stretch than afterwards when your muscles are warm, supple and more pliable.

That is why professional dancers often wear layers of warm up clothes during class and rehearsals, so they keep their body warm and ready for anything.

Age – Now, don’t quote me on this, but younger people are generally more flexible than adults. Of course, you watch the experienced ballerinas who are older than you extend their legs way above yours, but these dancers have trained their whole life to gain the flexibility that has now become a natural part of their body.

Gender – I have sure seen many exceptions, but you will generally find females are more flexible than males. This is partly because female dancers train more in exercises like adage and leg extensions which increases their flexibility, whilst the men focus more on jumps and impressive turns.

Time of day – It is believed that most dancers are more flexible in the afternoon than the morning. In the early morning, dancers feel any aches or pains from the previous day, so by the afternoon the body has gradually warmed up and eased out any stiffness.

Temperature – The warmer the room, the quicker your muscles will warm up and therefore the sooner you will feel more flexible. That is why dancers hate cold studios, because it makes their muscles feel like ice and not ready to dance!

Injuries – Injured muscles offer less flexibility than healthy ones. If you have strained or pulled a muscle it will feel more stiff and less easy to stretch. You must ease it out slowly and keep it supple by gentle ballet stretching.

Ballet stretching is absolutely necessary to every ballet dancer. There are many reasons why you don’t feel as flexible as you did yesterday, so let me share why you might not be improving and how you can progress.

Not all ballet dancers are naturally loose in their muscles. Most dancer’s have a good range of flexibility, but each person has to work very hard to maintain their flexibility and improve range.

Along with flexibility, dancers need to have a good amount of strength too.

Many dancer’s are actually too supple which means they have little strength to hold their legs high and maintain muscle strength.

The balance of flexibility and strength comes gradually with practice and it’s something you always have to work hard for.

Ballet Stretching

How to stretch for ballet

How to stretch for ballet

Why do we have to stretch? It’s important to stretch the muscles out to release tight limbs. Stretching lengthens your muscles and enables you to become more flexible for the demanding positions in ballet.

Ballet stretching is something you should get into the routine of doing during or after class. It can take as little as 15 minutes to make sure the muscles are stretched out and it’s important to do it on a regular basis, rather than once every so often.

It is true that EVERYONE has a different range of flexibility. There are many surprising factors that greatly affect your flexibility which yoy may not have realised.

Listen up and see why perhaps you don’t feel as flexible as you did yesterday.

Type of joint – Remember, flexibility is the range of movements in the joints and you won’t be equally flexible in every single joint. Just because you can do front splits, it doesn’t mean you will automatically be able to do side splits because not everyone is as flexible in every single joint.

Body Temperature – You should already know that you are DEFINITELY more flexible when you are warm.

Before ballet class, you will find the splits harder to stretch than afterwards when your muscles are warm, supple and more pliable.

That is why professional dancers often wear layers of warm up clothes during class and rehearsals, so they keep their body warm and ready for anything.

Age – Now, don’t quote me on this, but younger people are generally more flexible than adults. Of course, you watch the experienced ballerinas who are older than you extend their legs way above yours, but these dancers have trained their whole life to gain the flexibility that has now become a natural part of their body.

Gender – I have sure seen many exceptions, but you will generally find females are more flexible than males. This is partly because female dancers train more in exercises like adage and leg extensions which increases their flexibility, whilst the men focus more on jumps and impressive turns.

Time of day – It is believed that most dancers are more flexible in the afternoon than the morning. In the early morning, dancers feel any aches or pains from the previous day, so by the afternoon the body has gradually warmed up and eased out any stiffness.

Temperature – The warmer the room, the quicker your muscles will warm up and therefore the sooner you will feel more flexible. That is why dancers hate cold studios, because it makes their muscles feel like ice and not ready to dance!

Injuries – Injured muscles offer less flexibility than healthy ones. If you have strained or pulled a muscle it will feel more stiff and less easy to stretch. You must ease it out slowly and keep it supple by gentle ballet stretching.

How to stretch for ballet

Martin Baurraud/Getty Images

Have you been trying to get your splits but just can’t quite get to the floor? Do you feel like your stretch routine could use a little facelift?

Ballet dancers have a secret tool when it comes to flexibility: the barre. Using a ballet barre for stretching can really help improve your flexibility. Just be careful not to put too much weight on the barre.

Try the following stretches with the help of a barre. Be careful not to push yourself too far too soon. Take your time and really feel each stretch. By performing these stretches a few times each week, you should have your splits before you know it.

Stretch to the Side

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Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Place one leg on the barre. Keeping your leg straight, reach over your leg with your opposite arm. Be sure to hold your turnout and keep your hips square. Hold for a few seconds, and be sure to breathe through the stretch.

Stretch in Straddle

Slide your working leg along the barre as far as it will go without feeling pain. Try to go all the into a perfect straddle split position, or even an oversplit if you are able. Be sure to keep your legs straight.

Reverse Straddle Stretch

Slide your working leg along the ​barre in the opposite direction. Keep your legs straight to really feel a good stretch through your hips.

Stretch Over Bent Leg

This position will help stretch your external rotators, the six muscles around the hips. Keeping these muscles lose will improve your turnout.

Bend your working leg with your ankle resting on the barre. Hold your hips square and bend forward toward your foot. Make sure to keep your legs turned out. You should really feel this stretch across the buttocks.

Stretch Backward

Straighten your right leg and square your hips toward your foot. Holding the barre lightly with your left hand, reach up and back with your right arm. Feel a good stretch throughout your back. Make sure you keep your shoulders relaxed as you stretch backward, and keep your hips square.

Extend Leg

Holding the barre with your left hand, extend your right leg to the side. Wrap your right hand around the outside of your foot for support. Keep your hips square to the front and your knees and back straight.

Stretch Forward

Keep holding your right foot and bend forward at the hips. Keep your chest lifted and your back and knees straight.

Stretch Backward

Maintaining the leg in extension, stretch backward. Try to keep both knees straight and remember to point your foot.

Hold Leg in Extension

Square your hips to the front while bringing your leg to your chest. Keep your knees straight and chest lifted.

Extend Leg Behind

Reach back and grab one leg from behind with the same arm. Try to pull your foot toward your head, being careful not to overstretch your back. Try to straighten your working knee as much as possible. Be sure to keep your standing leg straight and your chest lifted.

Stretch in Attitude

This stretch will help to improve your attitude. Slide your arm down to the knee of your working leg until you are in attitude position. Pull your knee upward toward the ceiling. Try to keep your hips square and chest lifted.

Stretch Forward

While holding the working leg in attitude, drop your chest and feel the stretch in your legs. Keep your standing knee straight and the foot of your working leg pointed.

Stretch in Penchee

Finally, straighten your working leg to arabesque penchee. Strive to reach a perfect vertical position with your legs, with both knees straight. Use your free arm to help move your leg into position. If possible, check your image in the mirror to see how close your are to a perfect penchee.

How to stretch for ballet

If you don’t have naturally perfect feet, don’t worry. Most dancers aren’t born with them. However, even though you can’t change the bone structure of your arch or instep, there are things you can do to improve the overall look of your feet.

When determining what it is that makes a beautiful ballet foot, you must look at the overall characteristics of the feet. You’ve probably heard your ballet instructor use terms such as “arch” and “instep.” The arch is the curve under your foot, between the heel and forefoot. The instep is the bony structure on top of your foot. The ideal ballet foot has a high arch and a high instep. Having a high arch is beneficial for a dancer because it makes it possible to get to a high demi-pointe in soft ballet shoes, and over the box if she is dancing en pointe.

Some dancers refer to perfect ballet feet as “banana feet,” as the curved arch and instep somewhat resemble the shape of a banana. If your feet look more like cucumbers than bananas, try adding a few foot exercises and stretches to your daily routine. The following routine may help you on your journey to beautiful ballet feet.

Seated Arch Stretch

How to stretch for ballet

In a seated position, grasp the heel of one foot with one hand and use your other hand to push your toes downward. Hold the stretch for a few seconds. You should feel a good stretch in the arch of your foot. You will probably feel a few toes pop as well!

Toe Stretch

How to stretch for ballet

Balancing with your weight behind you on your hands, lift your heels off the floor as far as you can, stretching your ankles forward. This stretch stretches your arches by forcing a strong three-quarter point (as far as you can go without rising onto full pointe.)

Practice Pointing

How to stretch for ballet

Practice makes perfect, so it makes sense that practicing your point will make it prettier. Point one foot forward, stretching your foot as much as possible. Hold the point for five seconds, then switch feet.

Remember this tip each time you point your feet: never tighten your foot so much that you pinch your Achilles tendon, which can lead to tendonitis. Try to relax your foot as much as possible as you concentrate on defining the arch of your foot.

Toe Presses

How to stretch for ballet

Standing on your feet, bend one knee and raise your heel off the floor. press your toes firmly into the floor, stretching the top of your foot and ankle as far as you comfortably can. This stretch will strengthen as well as lengthen the arch and ankle.

Reverse Toe Presses

How to stretch for ballet

Beginning in the same position as for toe presses, tuck your toes under and stretch your foot forward as far as you can.

Toe Flex

How to stretch for ballet

Some ballet teachers refer to this stretch as “Aladdin feet.” Beginning in the same position as the toe press, lift your foot off the floor and pull your toes back toward your ankle. Concentrate on the opposing stretch you feel your ankle pushing forward while your toes are pulling back.

Thera-Band Stretch

How to stretch for ballet

The Thera-band can be very helpful in improving your arches as well as the overall look of your feet. To perform this exercise, wrap a Thera-band firmly around the arch of your foot. While pointing your foot, firmly pull the band backward toward your body, enabling your foot to point much further. This exercise will accustom your feet to achieving the desired point.