There isn’t a dancer out there who doesn’t strive for higher extensions. It's something almost all my dancers ask for help with, so I'm going to share with you the secret to crushing it...
The biggest mistake I see is dancers making, is spending too much time on stretching and not enough on strengthening. It’s true that you need a certain amount of hip mobility and flexibility to get your leg above 90 degrees, but strength is what will take your extensions to the next level. You could be the most flexible dancer in the world, but unless you have the strength to actually lift and hold your leg off the ground, you’ve got nothing.
I totally get that you feel tight, but hear me out. A lack of mobility is often the result of a lack in strength. Here's why: Your muscles will naturally compensate and have to work harder to take up the slack for weak muscles, leaving them feeling constantly restricted and “tight.” If you notice that you have been stretching the heck out of your legs and feel no change, it's time to try something else. So next time you feel the urge to stretch, try some active strength exercises instead and you might be surprised at how much looser it makes you feel!
Ready to start strengthening for effortless extensions? Here's what muscles you need to focus on strengthening:
The hip flexor is responsible for flexing the hip, like during a posse or developpe. When it’s weak, you will not only have a significantly harder time lifting the leg with proper alignment, but it can also be the cause of pinching and popping in the hip. Strengthening this muscle will improve your leg height and help you finally stop your hips from popping and pinching.
Here's a few of my favorite hip flexor strengthening exercises:
Hip flexor isometrics
Hip External Rotators
AKA, your turn out muscles. You must be able to maintain your turnout during extensions to keep the hip joint in proper alignment and free from compensations. Turn out is a measure of of flexibility AND strength. You could have the most perfect 180 degree turn out, but unless you are strong enough, you will lose it as soon as the foot leaves the floor. Here's a few ways to work on your turnout strength:
Side plank with clam
Give these exercises a shot and let me know what you think!
Want to learn more??
Become an ELITE INSIDER and get access to exclusive dance health & wellness content!!
Be sure to follow our YouTube channel for even more exercise ideas!