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Confuddled

Kit to help strengthening - rollers, those stretchy bands, anything else?

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My dd is keen to work on her strength and flexibility outside class - she’s got an blue stretchy band that I had left over from physio on my shoulder, which she uses in her conditioning class, but is there anything else that would be good? I got her a wobble board, as I saw one very cheap in Tiger a few weeks ago and I thought it looked like fun. She’s mentioned rollers, and I know that anything  that’s designed to strengthen feet in preparation for pointe work would be good (she’s really keen to go on pointe, so she’ll do anything that she thinks will help her with being ready).

 

I’m happy to get her things that will help her be stronger and less likely to get injured, but we don’t have much storage space, so smaller is better!

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Posted (edited)

It really depends on what kinds of exercises she’s doing but some good basics are:

-Thera bands (a few different strengths/ colours are good to have for different exercises). 

-Foam rollers, foot rollers and small balls eg. tennis balls, spiky balls etc. are great for recovery, rolling out and preventing stiff and sore muscles.

-Wobble/ balance boards are good for core strength and ankle stability.

-I have two yoga balls, a small and large one which I do exercises with, the small one could be substituted with a plastic football though!

Other than that there’s not much else I use for basic exercises but as I said above it’s really up to the individual and any physio exercises given that require equipment etc! 

Kathryn Morgan and Claudia Dean are popular youtubers with various exercises to target specific areas but, especially if your daughter is young, make sure she’s careful and doesn’t do anything beyond her limits and is doing the exercises correctly otherwise they’ll be useless!! I’d say that a lot of strengthening exercises can be performed without equipment and it’s good to ask dance teachers/ dance physios for exercises to target weaknesses or places that could be improved upon for the individual because they can see the dancer in front of them and make sure the exercises are being done correctly.

Hope that helps a bit.

Edited by Tutu15
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I would add PBT exercises. They mainly use a big yoga ball, some theraband and smaller ball work. In my dance school it is introduced right from Primary, although there isn't time to do it regularly all through the year and we are encouraged to continue at home with the exercises introduced in class or my teacher may recommend a particular exercise to support a technique. If they don't do PBT at your daughter's dance school, a DVD and online videos are available on the PBT website which give progressions of exercises, music and clear demonstrations. Again, the issue is doing the appropriate level* for the individual and performing the exercises correctly, although the videos do give very detailed explanations.

 

*NB the students on the video are terrifyingly strong and competent and I find myself mainly working at the little kids level!

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I definitely agree with @The_Red_Shoes about PBT, it's not so much the various bands and balls and boards you can buy, it's about the exercises that you do with them. PBT gives well structured, age appropriate exercises that train core and turnout. For feet I recommend the Lisa Howell 'Perfect Pointe' pre-pointe program, it trains foot intrinsic muscles as well as various whole body exercises for calves, posture, hip alignment and control.

 

With regards to PBT and 'age appropriate' level I definitely think that sometimes this can be hard to judge because the girls in the video are all vocational full time dancers with insane control! Even a lot of the juniors are in part time or extension ballet training. I went to a workshop with Marie Walton-Mahon who created PBT, which was very good, but the only indication given for the level was 15+. I am definitely 15+ but as an adult starter, I am not at the level that a full time, vocational level 15 year old is at! It was quite discouraging as only the full timers got any corrections or encouragement and I felt kind of like I was in the way...and was the only one cropped out of the video they put on instagram of the session 😂 But as part of the program they gave us short term access to the online portal, so I've been doing the 'senior' program instead of 'advanced' and it's been much more manageable, I've started seeing some good results too :) I would still recommend it for a ballet interested child looking to build up their strength and stamina.

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Thanks! What does PBT stand for? I will have a google. I have no idea what dd does in her strength and flexibility classes, so if there’s something I can show her about PBT and perfect pointe on the web, I can ask her whether it fits with the sort of thing she’s been doing.

 

She’s 10, does about (counts on fingers...)3.5 hours of ballet a week, an hour of strength / flexibility / conditioning and an hour of contemporary. Plus 3.5 hours of Associates (which is mostly ballet, but is also sometimes conditioning, contemporary, jazz etc). Would most of these things be aimed at older students doing many more hours a week? I don’t want to point her at anything inappropriate.

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Posted (edited)

Progressing Ballet Technique. There is a Junior level and some introductory exercises for even before that. As I said, my teacher introduces the first few exercises in her Primary classes..

Edited by The_Red_Shoes

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On 06/05/2019 at 01:57, Confuddled said:

She’s 10, does about (counts on fingers...)3.5 hours of ballet a week, an hour of strength / flexibility / conditioning and an hour of contemporary. Plus 3.5 hours of Associates (which is mostly ballet, but is also sometimes conditioning, contemporary, jazz etc). Would most of these things be aimed at older students doing many more hours a week? I don’t want to point her at anything inappropriate.

 

Sounds to me like she is doing quite a lot already! I once watched an Instagram video by a dancer in our national company, where she said that the absolutely most valuable exercise for strengthening is daily 'Calf Raises'. This is literally just standing on one foot (you can hold on to something, feet in parallel but one off the floor, obvs) and slowly rising up to high demi-pointe and down again. She said she still does these daily even as a professional, and recommended doing repetitions that match your age. So your DD could do 10 per day on each foot. It's excellent strengthening and also gets kids thinking about all the different parts of the foot that need to be strengthened as well as the ankle – all good prep for pointe too!

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Posted (edited)

Yes, I'd second @Cara in NZ's suggestion of calf raises. They were introduced to the Australian Ballet by David McAllister some years ago and they replace stretching between barre & centre (latest medical advice is that dancers shouldn't stretch between barre and centre), and now the Royal Ballet does them as well. Mr McAllister has noted that since they introduced calf rises, the incidence of ankle & foot injury decreased noticeably.

 

I was taught them by a physiotherapist to help with a mild case of Achilles tendinitis - it's really important to have your alignment very clear: no turnout - legs straight over toes. And no gripping with the toes (my physio was insistent on that) - it's good to do them in socks or bare feet so you can also spread your toes out.

 

Edited by Kate_N
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When you watch Royal Ballet videos of their daily class, you notice how they all have that sort of "Oh no" grimace on their faces when it comes to the calf rises. My teacher has replaced the middle of the class free stretch time with calf rises in our advanced class - and everyone groans. Especially when people are very flexible, stretching is a lovely pleasant feeling and relaxing thing to do whereas strengthening exercises are always torture - but all the more necessary! I've added The Rises to my regular at home exercise routine. I try to make that focus on alignment feel calm and meditative - rather than desperately muttering "just another 8 to go" through gritted teeth.

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We do calf raises at the barre in one ballet class I do - 8 in first, 8 on the left leg, with the right leg cou de pied, 8 on the right and repeat. It's an absolute killer! I do this in the gym too, three times a week. It hurts less if you really pull up in the knees and squeeze your bottom. Don't lean on the barre to much either; it is much easier if you stay vertical.

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Some new Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) tutorials are on their member site  www.pbt.dance to give youan idea of content.

 

Also,  see lovely (hypermobile) Jenna in this ad - who  is going to  RBS in Sept.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

The first girl (Milla) danced at my studio until she started at Tanya Pearson this year!!!!!! We actually did our Advanced Foundation exam together last October, though obviously she danced like a dream and me like a nightmare (or some kind of landlocked walrus). So exciting to see her achieving her dreams, can't wait to see where she goes next :D 

Edited by Viv
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Re Kit - you don't actually need lots of 'kit'! A few resistance bands is all I'd suggest really. One small loop (to fit around both legs when standing in a small parallel first position), one long one not in a loop, and possibly a longer, heavier looped band too. Bodyweight exercises are phenomenal if done properly. The PBT stuff is good but it's still ballet and there are conditioning coaches working with dancers who believe that dancers should train in parallel/non ballet/functional movements as much as in turnout/ports de bras/ballet movements.

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, drdance said:

Bodyweight exercises are phenomenal if done properly

 

As an adult, I have discovered the power of squats - properly done, with good form and alignment. I get a bit evangelical about the effects of squats!

 

Quite hard though for a child without expert supervision, because the technique is the opposite of ballet technique (weight in heels, hinging at the hips - basically "sticking out your bottom"). However, more and more professional dancers cross-train with the basic weightlifting moves.

 

I love watching the videos on Instagram of dancers training with experts such as BalletStrengthPro, but the dancers are mid-teens, training in a serious pre-professional programme. I wouldn't have thought such training is necessary for pre-teens, @drdance ? but I'm not an expert, just a reasonably enquiring adult dance student 😊

Edited by Kate_N
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Kate_N  -  I hear you on squats!

5 hours ago, Kate_N said:

As an adult, I have discovered the power of squats - properly done, with good form and alignment. I get a bit evangelical about the effects of squats!

 

Quite hard though for a child without expert supervision, because the technique is the opposite of ballet technique (weight in heels, hinging at the hips - basically "sticking out your bottom").

Functional movements like squats, pushes/presses and pulls etc are so good for whole body strength! Kids actually find them easy enough, (look at a toddlers natural movement!) no harder than a ballet plie which actually is less 'natural'. Although re form and alignment, I'd say weight is distributed over the whole foot and rather than sticking your bum out, I tend to use the cue "send your hips backwards" - the hip hinge is something dancers are pretty good at once they realise they already do it in a grande plie. I always emphasise an upright torso where possible though as one of my pet peeves re squats is people sticking their bum out and leaning forwards with too much hinge, loading up the lower back. 

As for the age question - strength training is beneficial for any age, but it depends what you mean by strength training! It doesn't necessarily mean what looks like traditional gym based exercises. Children are developing their strength through playing all the time - as a little girl I would spend playtimes in the summer at school doing handstands! Give kids an outdoor play-rig with monkey bars, rings, ropes, etc and they're building strength.

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Posted (edited)

I believe it is all about correct excercises and knowing how to use muscles, i never bought anything for my DD. Tennis ball to massage her legs, skipping rope, yoga mat and thera bands. She runs for stamina, uses house stairs for her ankle raises and therabands for her toes, she skips on her rope. Rest she is doing on her mat; series of excercises like squats, abdominals (twist abdominals), planks, deadbug, combination of push ups, V sit crunch. She also uses ankle weights (including when running).
What nature or house gives really..... (and she used to carry all my shopping upstairs from the car 😄 )

Edited by FlexyNexy

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7 hours ago, FlexyNexy said:

I believe it is all about correct excercises and knowing how to use muscles, i never bought anything for my DD. Tennis ball to massage her legs, skipping rope, yoga mat and thera bands. She runs for stamina, uses house stairs for her ankle raises and therabands for her toes, she skips on her rope. Rest she is doing on her mat; series of excercises like squats, abdominals (twist abdominals), planks, deadbug, combination of push ups, V sit crunch. She also uses ankle weights (including when running).
What nature or house gives really..... (and she used to carry all my shopping upstairs from the car 😄 )

Definitely! Whatever nature or house gives is a great starting point. I would just add a note to say that ankle weights have been associated with hip injury as they increase torque in the hip joint so take care.

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Thanks for all the replies - I showed this to dd and she’s going to do the calf rises and she’s keen to have the PBT DVD as a birthday present.

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I would go with the pbt online membership https://www.pbt.dance/ as there are regular updates made with new exercises.  Also you can look at free content on their  facebook  page videos or instagram in the meantime xx

 

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