Monday, February 4, 2013

Tools of the Trade

Being a dancer is expensive. You pay money for classes and leotards and shoes and band-aids, then you pay for physical therapy and doctors when you're injured, then you don't get paid that much in the end if and when you secure a job. That being said, there are some tools (I call them "toys") that can make it less expensive in the long run by keeping you toned up and loose. I present to you a full total workout and general dancer well-being kit with only a few tools:

Tool #1: foam roller
Photo Credit

 Foam rollers are great. You can roll your legs, your back, your glutes, etc when they're tight and tired. You can use them to do exercises (see photo above). You can use them to whack people. Who doesn't want a giant tube of foam?

Tool #2: weighted yoga balls
Soft Weighted Workout Balls
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These balls can be used as weights for arm strengthening (2 lbs isn't much, but as a dancer, you don't want bulky muscle. Lean muscle is built with less weight and more reps). My Pilates teacher likes to use them as an indicator of whether or not you're scooping your abs (put it on your stomach when you do Pilates exercises/crunches). The dance kinesiologist in my department uses them to help release pecs (lie on top of the ball with it situated right under your collarbone next to your armpit). Put one between your knees while you're doing exercises to remind yourself to keep them together. Use it as a doorstop...

Tool #3: theraband
Replaces: foot stretchers, yoga straps, dumbbells/weights
Theraband stretch
Photo Credit
The theraband is basically your at-home, all-in-one gym. You can use it for strengthening exercises (pull the band as taut as you want in order to add resistance) or stretching (see above image). Different thicknesses/weights of bands will provide more or less resistance as well.

Tool #4: pinky ball/spiky ball
using a reflex ball
Photo Credit

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If you have plantar fasciitis, a spiky pinky ball is your best friend. It will help break up that tension build up and get your fluids flowing again. A pinky ball is great for feet (as seen above), but I personally love using them for sciatica. If you have a knot in your butt, or your turnout muscles are just dying from your first day back in ballet in 2 months (hear, hear...), lie on your back and put the ball underneath your butt with your leg bent at the knee and roll around until you find the sore spot. If you're brave, let the leg drop to the side. Feel the relief! It follows the searing pain, I swear.

Tool #5: epsom salt
Epsom Salt Bath
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When all else fails, epsom salt is there to help draw the lactic acid out of your muscles after a long day. An epsom salt bath can help warm up your muscles and simultaneously detoxify your body so that you can stretch after your bath and that you'll be less sore the next day.


  1. Long time no comment :)
    I might need to try the salts, sprained my leg and I'm too active to let it heal :(

    1. Glad to have you back! Try the salts, ice cube massage/ice the injury only AFTER you dance (if you do it during/before, you could hurt it worse). RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) after you dance, good luck!