In todays dance world the demands for students to learn intricate pirouette combinations and leaps to add flash and dash to choreography are great, and so often dancers are overusing the predominant muscles and under using the muscles that should be activated to execute some of this complex technique. The result is that dancers start to get injuries that can sometimes keep them out of dance for months at a time. There are ways to avoid this happening or at least to prevent your dancers having lengthy recuperation times. One of the most effective ways is to incorporate simple exercises used in physical therapy into your daily classes. Obviously you and your faculty are not generally physical therapists but by using simple strengthening exercise during your classes you can really start to see a significant reduction in the injuries that your dancers may be getting.
What do you need in the way of equipment to do this? Well, you can start by using Therabands. These bands can be purchased in bulk on many websites. Just Google the word Theraband and a number of sites will come up and from there you can do a bit of comparison shopping to get the best price. The most economical way to purchase the bands is in large rolls of approx 50 feet. All you have to do is cut them up into pieces of 60 inches approximately. I find that if the bands are shorter the dancers with long legs are not able to use them as well. They also come in different weights. Yellow is usually the lightest weight, green medium and red heavy; however this can vary with the different suppliers. These bands are terrific because they can be taken everywhere, even on vacation and once you get your dancers into the habit of using them they will want to keep it up because they will feel the results.
Therabands are particularly useful for working on feet, ankles and hips to help to strengthen them. They can also be used effectively to strengthen the upper body and arms. By incorporating a short series of exercises into your classes your dancers, faculty and parents will be thrilled at the results! There are a series of exercises with the Theraband on the Dance Teacher Web "How To" series.
Exercise balls are also a fantastic addition and a very worthwhile investment for your studio or school. There are so many exercises that can be done on and with the larger exercise balls and also with balls of different sizes. Some of the smaller balls can be used effectively to strengthen the inner thigh muscles, the gluts and the muscles surrounding the knees. The larger balls come in 3 different sizes: small, medium and large and can be used by the students with the appropriate coinciding heights. They can also be purchased more economically on line especially if you are buying in bulk. You will need to either find a space or build a contraption to be able to store them out of the way but the results your students will achieve will certainly be worth the bother of finding a home for them!
There are also a number of exercises in our "How To" section to give you some good ideas for ways to strengthen the core muscles, and the body in general. There also some great stretch exercises that really work and I have found that when I incorporate some of these stretches into my dancer's curriculum they are experiencing terrific benefits.
Try to get your faculty on board with helping you to get these simple exercises into many of the classes that you offer. You will probably have to help them by instructing them yourself or letting them look at and learn the exercises that are on the Dance Teacher Web video section. It doesn't matter what style of dance that they teach because every style can benefit from having students that are better prepared for the material that they may be asked to do.
Together you can help your students to develop great habits of taking care of their bodies and for those students who plan to go on to dance professionally just about the most important thing they can do for themselves and their careers is to keep themselves healthy and strong. For those students who will go onto diverse career choices they too will be able to develop habits that will keep them strong, healthy and injury free.
Another benefit to adding some of these exercises to your classes is that even though they will really help your students to be stronger they also add an element of fun to any class. As we all know, it is the "Fun" part that keeps everyone going and enjoying all the classes that you have to offer.