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Top 5 Warm-Up Exercises for Dancers

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

Recommended by an ex-professional dancer & physical therapist!

Total honesty- Back in my past life when I was taking dance class twice a day 5-6 times a week and adding to that rehearsals and/or performances I wasn’t in the habit of warming-up properly. Maybe a short barre or a loose mark of the phrases to come in rehearsals or performances and in terms of class...probably hanging out in a center split while chatting with my fellow dancers/friends for 5-10 minutes before start. I had unknowingly led my body down the path of unnecessary pain, fatigue, minor-medium injuries throughout the years.

It was only towards the end of my free-lance dancer career in my early thirties that I understood how healthy it was for my body to have the time and attention in the form of specific exercises that targeted my core/hips, so as to properly prepare for the awesomely complex and dynamic routines that dancing entails.

After being consistent with this “before routine” my body thanked me during and after a long day of dance. I’d love to share 5 basic core/hip stabilizing exercises with you in the hopes it will help access the sometimes elusive center and turnout more readily and effectively, like it did me.

  • Supine marches- it is important to pull your navel towards your spine and feel the lower abdominals engaging, so as to minimize rotation of the pelvis as your lift/switch legs. Carry over this sensation of activation of the lower abdominal muscles into all barre/center exercises to maintain a strong center.

  • Bridges - your gluteal muscles also help you maintain a stable pelvis. Because dancers are usually in a turned out position, the major gluteal muscles can become a little “lazy”. Help them wake up with this exercise.

  • 2-way Clamshells - this exercise will help you access your hip external and internal rotators. Not only are these muscles the exact one you use when standing in any turned out position they help the hip joint remain stable during any dynamic weight-bearing movement (basically all of dancing).

  • Plank hold - full body engagement of core musculature. Pay attention to how your elbows align with your shoulders and do not sink in your upper body as much as your center. Start slow (10-15 sec holds), focus on proper form and then start adding time.

At Zion PT we specialize in dance injury prevention and have helped many dancers recover from injuries and get back to doing what they love best! If you are in need of help or guidance please call (212) 353-8693 to make an appointment with one of our Dance Medicine Physical Therapists!

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