The “Injured Dancer” is back! I’m Miami City Ballet dancer Rebecca King Ferraro, and as I have been posting on the DanceWear Corner blog for the past few months, I am recovering from ankle surgery. Today I wanted to share with you some of my workout routine that I have been working on, “Injury Recovery for Dancers: Hip Strengthening.” When you are unable to walk, it can make exercising a real challenge, so you need to get creative! This series of exercises is great if you are injured, deal with chronic ankle or knee pain, or want a quick and simple warm up.
If you deal with ankle and knee issues on a regular basis, hip strength is essential to help protect your lower leg. Your hip muscles are among the largest in your body, so keeping them strong is very beneficial to all dancers. Over my career I have dealt with numerous injuries and spent many hours in physical therapy. I am not a physical therapist or a health professional, but these exercises have been given to me over the years to aid in my recoveries, so I would like to share them with you today!
Check out the video below where I demonstrate my hip series, then check out the detailed instructions below. The most important tip is to keep your abs engaged the entire time so that your upper body does not move with your legs. With the video in fast motion, you can see my upper body moving, so I obviously have more work to do!
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Injury Recovery for Dancers: Hip Strengthening
1. 10 leg lifts
Lie on your side with your legs slightly in front of your body, being sure to support your abs. Your trunk should not be touching in the floor: you should have a gap between your abs and the floor. Keeping your hips stacked on top of each other, lift your working leg straight to the ceiling ten times.
2. Repeat front
Maintaining the same alignment, bring the working leg straight front, ten times. Try not to move your upper body. Everything should stay completely stable.
3. Repeat back
Again, maintaining the same upper body alignment, move the leg straight back. Be careful not to allow the top hip to roll forward.
4. 10 circles to the front
While still on your side, bring the working leg front, circle up and around to the side, then around to the back. Finish the circle by bringing the working leg back on top of supporting leg. Keeping that upper body quiet (no movement), repeat 10 times.
Reverse the circles starting back.
6. 10 clam shells
Bend both knees. Keeping the heels together, bring the top knee up as far as possible to the ceiling while maintaining the hips stacked on top of each other. Repeat 10 times.
7. 10 knee touch, heel touch
Reverse the clam shell by touching the knees and lifting the heels apart. Then place heels together and knee lifts. Repeat 10 times.
8. 10 push heel to the ceiling
Transfer onto your hands and knees. Using the same working leg as before, lift heel to the ceiling, with leg at a right angle and the thigh bone parallel to ground. Extend the leg slightly as you push the heel straight to the ceiling. It is important to maintain a neutral spine and not extend into a swayed back. Keep the leg completely parallel while pushing up. You may not move the heel very much, which is fine, and long as you feel the back of your hips and your hamstring working.
9. 10 knee to the side
Back on hands and knees, lift working leg to the side, so that the knee is pointing directly side from the hip and the thigh bone is parallel to the ground. Careful to maintain that neutral spine, and looking straight down at the mat, repeat 10 times.
10. 10 straight leg lifts
Straighten working leg and place toes on the floor directly to the side of your hips. Lift the toe off the ground no higher than hip height, 10 times. Continue to maintain the neutral spine, even as you start to fatigue those hip muscles.
11. 10 outward leg circles
Transfer to laying on your back and with a straight knee, bring the same working leg straight up to the ceiling directly in front of your hips. Your leg should be at a 90 degree angle with your body. Create small circles with your toes by starting outward. Bring your toes straight side, down, crossed, then back to neutral. Fire those abs and maintain a quiet upper body.
*Important! The size of your circles should be as big as you can without moving your upper body or releasing your back from the ground. Start small first. *
12. 10 reverse the circles
Reverse the circle by bringing the toe across your body first, then down, side and back to starting position.
13. Do it all on the other side!!!
Repeating on the other side is essential! Balance is so important within our bodies and we must maintain that through exercises. Take note if any movements seem easier or harder on one side than the other.
Any questions? Let us know! Leave a comment and we will get back to you. Hope you give this a try and you feel the burn!