Are your dancers complaining about tight hips?
Do they feel like their hips don’t open easily?
There are three key things you need to focus on with your dancers to make it easier for their hips to open.
With the exercises below, increase your dancers’:
- Hip mobility
- Hip flexibility
- Hip strength
Flexibility v. Mobility
Flexibility happens within the muscle. Muscles can become more flexible. And the hip joint can become more mobile.
Mobility refers to the full range of motion in the hips. Ideally, hip mobility should happen without the pain or clicking sounds you and your dancers probably know all too well. It’s important we work on opening the hips with mobility exercises while also increasing the flexibility of the hip flexors with complementary exercises.
You also want to increase the strength of your dancers’ hips to avoid injuries. Many times the hips do more work than they’re built to do because your dancers have a weak core and weak glutes. Check out my blogs about strengthening exercises for the core and glutes.
Today we’re going to talk about how to strengthen the hips and increase their mobility and flexibility.
Your dancers need mobility in the hips for turnout, side leaps, tilts, and to look seamless in the choreography they perform.
Give this Cossack Squat Exercise a try.
- Start by standing in a wide second position and hold your hands together in front of you for balance.
- Bend the right leg, like a normal squat with the foot flat on the floor. The left leg stays straight so the left toes are flexed toward the ceiling.
- Return to the original wide second position and complete the exercise on the other side.
- Alternate between each side for 40 seconds.
Remember to push the butt back, keep the chest up, and press the heel on your stabilizing foot into the floor. This should be a very fluid movement. Try not to rest in the second position or pause. You’re moving through second position as you switch sides in your squats.
Do your dancers want to have higher kicks, better turnout, or harder tricks? Flexibility is going to help them achieve their goals with fluidity.
Check out the Hip Opener Exercise for flexibility.
- Start with both knees on the floor and your hands at your side.
- Next, bring the right leg up to a 90° angle with your foot flat on the floor. Your leg should be turned out.
- Lean over and reach your ankle with the fingertips on your right hand. Straighten the right arm as you extend the left arm. Your arms should look like a straight, vertical line.
- Bring your arms back to your sides and return to the starting position.
- Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Focus on keeping your turnout when the leg is bent. When your arms are straight, it helps your dancers get a nice stretch in the hip flexors, safely. You may also feel a stretch in the core as you reach up to the sky.
Strong hips help prevent injuries. It’s expected that at some point in a dancer’s career, an injury will happen. But why not do what you can to avoid injuries as much as possible, right?
Practice the Hip Lift Drill Exercise to help your dancers avoid unnecessary injury.
- Sit with your butt on the floor, knees bent in front of you with your feet flat on the floor. Place your palms just behind your butt for balance with straight arms.
- Lift one leg so it’s in an attitude-like position.
- Lower the leg to the floor, then lift it as high as you can.
- Repeat 12 times on each leg.
Since this is strength training for dancers, do your best to keep the working leg turned out. The working foot should also be pointed, leading with the heel when you lift the leg. If your leg starts to spasm, shake out the leg and continue.
Mobility, strength, and flexibility are most likely the culprit of your dancers’ tight, clicking, or painful hips.
Try these 3 exercises:
- Cossack Squat — for a full range of motion
- Hip Opener — for a better turnout
- Hip Lift Drill — to prevent injury
Feel free to do all three of these exercises as part of your warm-up. The beginning of class is a really great time to focus on strength and mobility.
Just make sure your dancers’ bodies are nice and warm before you start working on hip flexibility.
Do your dancers need to strengthen their core muscles too?
Follow along with this 5-minute core workout! The stronger the core, the less strain on the hips.