Dancers and athletes are similar in many ways. For both, being put out of commission due to an injury for even a week is unbearable – and many common injuries take much longer than that to heal. Yet despite this, not nearly enough dancers are using the tools available to them that could prevent injury and assist recovery – and one of these tools have been in use for over a century!
World Famous “First Position” ballet dancer Miko Fogarty uses resistance bands as part of her foot strengthening routine and recommends using the bands to strengthen feet for point work and jumps. She suggests starting with 10 stretches for each foot in the beginning and slowly building up to 25 as you progress, ensuring you do it every day to make your feet stronger.
Resistance training using bands offers easy and simple exercises that fit neatly into any workout routine. Regular resistance band exercising increases muscle size and strength just like weight training. But unlike weight training, resistance bands do not rely on gravity and rather use functional movement patterns to provide resistance on all planes. This encourages the body to get familiar with specific movements in a manner that is likely to make them easier to execute in the future, while decreasing the chance of injury occurring.
Resistance bands also offer linear variable resistance, which means that as your range of motion increases, so does the resistance. This has the effect of increasing the engagement of your muscle fibres in a way that weight training just can’t match. Add to this the fact that resistance bands can be integrated into one’s existing dance warm-ups and practice movements, and you can see why they are essential for dance success.
Before you head out to purchase a resistance band and start using it, make sure you’re aware of the two most common safety concerns when using them – the band snapping or accidently letting go of the end you are holding. You can avoid the first by making sure you invest in a quality one. The second safety niggle can be prevented by ensuring your form is correct at all times.
Keep the band in the centre of your hand and keep both feet planted firmly on the ground. Always make sure you are standing on a solid, even surface. Begin stretching slowly and never stretch a band to over 2 ½ times its length.
To make your resistance training even more effective, you can attach an exercise band handle to your resistance band to help with grip and stability. These handles are specifically designed to attach to exercise bands without having to tie knots. They are easy to attach and detach and they avoid damaging the bands.
Take these tips into consideration and you’ll be able to use resistance bands to take your overall dance prowess to the next level.