Training in dance does not require the use of any physical training tools, but they can help to speed up a dancer’s improvement and overall wellbeing by targeting specific issues in the body. There are many tools on the market specifically made for dancers, but they can be very expensive and even dangerous if not used correctly. The 3 tools listed below are all easily accessible, safe to use at home and very affordable. Read on to see how you can work through some of those annoying problems at home!
The recovery process for a dancer after hours of training is just as important as the training itself! Including foam rolling into your warm down routine after class can reduce muscle soreness and relieve tension thus improving flexibility. This also allows a dancer to minimise their risk of injury and train more efficiently as they will experience less of the negative side effects (soreness, tight muscles) of training the next day. Foam rollers definitely vary in cost depending on where you buy them, but there really isn’t a huge difference between the products. At Dance Sensations we have foam rollers that students can access before and after class, but if you want to buy your own they’re available at most local Physios, Target, and Kmart.
Example- Using a foam roller is fairly straight forward, you just choose a part of the body that is particularly sore, and roll it out! Simple as that! The picture below shows a great method for releasing tension in the IT band (commonly very tight in dancers).
This one may seem a little confusing at first, but tennis balls can actually be used in a number of ways to roll out tension in parts of the body that are tricky to target. They’re also super affordable and most people already have one at home! Tennis balls are typically used to roll over muscles, tendons, and ligaments that are particularly tight and are not easy to release.
Example – Tightness behind the knee and arches of feet
Dancers often experience tightness at the back of knees and find that typical hamstring stretches don’t help. If you’re continuously having trouble straightening your knees, try placing a tennis ball under one leg and applying a little bit of pressure while rolling back and forth. This little exercise can make a world of difference and free up mobility in the back of the leg. You can also use golf balls for a more targeted release or specially designed physio balls depending on what you need!
Resistance bands can be used in a number of ways to increase strength and stability in the body. They’re affordable and versatile, making them the perfect training tool! Resistance bands can be bought from your local physio, which is great to discuss the level of resistance that is best for your training. Alternatively, you can buy them cheaper at stores like Kmart and Target.
There are many ways to use a resistance band but essentially you just need to choose an area to target and play around with exercises that work the desired muscles.
Example – Working on foot strength
A simple exercise is pointing and flexing using the band to add resistance as you work through your feet. This is great for targeting the little stabiliser muscles and will improve your point significantly. When pointing, really focus on working through your demi (middle picture below) and pressing each toe down against the band starting from your little toe working through to the big toe last. Then reverse keeping the resistance band tight to return to a flexed position. Repeat this as many times as you like (very slowly) and make sure you work on both left and right feet!
So there you go! Training tools don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Give these tools a try at home and let us know what worked best for you!