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Increase Dancer Hip Flexibility and Strength With These 5 Moves

Posted by Katie Peyton on Aug 10, 2018

Dancer hip flexibility

I get asked a lot as a personal trainer for dancers about hip flexibility and strength. It seems to be an area of concern for coaches and dancers striving for flat splits, high kicks and extended leaps. The biggest issue however isn’t really a lack of flexibility, but a lack of movement in our every day lives. The increased time we spend sitting at work, school, in cars or buses causes our hip muscles to become tighter and shorter. This pulls on our low back and even our hamstrings. With these 5 movements, you’ll see a drastic change in hip flexibility but you can also enjoy some more movement in the back and legs.

Increase Dancer Hip Flexibility and Strength With These 5 Moves

1. Slide Reverse Lunge

Slide reverse lunge exercise for Dancer hip flexibility

Unilateral leg exercises like this one are great for imbalances in hip strength because you can focus on one side at a time.  Many dancers are dominant on the right, so doing a slide reverse lunge can help the left catch up.

  • Start standing with one leg on a towel or furniture mover.
  • Keeping your core tight and chest up, slowly extend the leg on the towel backwards until you’re in an extended lunge position.
  • Don’t go too far into the lunge, just enough to feel a stretch in the working hip.
  • Press into the supporting leg and pull your working leg back into the starting position.
  • Do 3 sets of 8 on each leg.

2. Assisted Hip Flexor Stretch

Assisted hip flexor stretch for Dancer hip flexibility

Unlike many stretches to increase hip flexibility, this stretch doesn’t involve a low lunge. Using your couch or wall you’ll be able to stretch your hip flexor and surrounding muscles like your quads. The movement is subtle but the stretch is intense.

  • Come to all fours.
  • Place one knee where the wall and floor meet and extend the shin up the wall. Place a yoga mat under your knee if needed.
  • Use yoga blocks or tall books to help keep you balanced.
  • Place your front foot in a 90-degree angle and position your glutes back toward your heel and chest up.
  • Gently tuck your hips under WITHOUT lunging forward.
  • Breathe deeply and hold for 30 seconds each side.

 

3. Assisted Splits

Assisted splits for Dancer hip flexibility

These “splits” are effective whether you already have a flat split or are trying to increase your hip flexibility and mobility. This stretch is a great follow up to the previous, or a warm up for a full split.

  • Come to all fours.
  • Place one knee where the wall and floor meet and extend the shin up the wall. Place a yoga mat under your knee if needed.
  • Use yoga blocks or tall books to help keep you balanced.
  • Place your front foot in a 90-degree angle and tuck your hips under.
  • Gently extend the front foot while keeping the knee bent and foot flexed.
  • Inhale and exhale slowly each time pushing deeper into the stretch
  • Hold each side for 30 seconds

 

4. Hip Flexor Release

pictureDTLU

This is a fantastic choice if you need a low impact hip flexor stretch and a way to relax the low back. I recommend this for dancers who lack a lot of flexibility or beginners. 

  • Roll up a yoga mat or use a bolster and place it under your low back, right where your glutes meet your back.
  • Begin by pulling one leg into your chest and extending the other straight.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and let the weight of your body wrap around the yoga mat underneath you.
  • Extend the same arm as leg above your head.
  • Hold for 30 seconds and switch.

 

5. Heel Drive

pictureETLU

This exercise to increase your hip flexibility takes a little bit of practice, but when you do it right, you’ll see your hamstring and hip flexibility improve almost immediately. Higher kicks and flatter leaps are just around the corner!

  • Lie on your back and pull one leg toward your chest.
  • Lace your fingers around your calf muscle allowing your knee to be slightly bent
  • Extend the other leg straight, keeping it engaged.
  • Use your arms; gently pull the gripped leg toward your chest and AT THE SAME TIME driving the same leg’s heel toward the floor.
  • Press into your hands as if you’re trying to break the grip of your fingers around your leg.
  • Press and pull for 5 seconds.
  • Gently release, straighten the top leg and pull gently toward your shoulder, not your nose.
  • Repeat 5 times on each leg

 


Katie Peyton Nutrition for Dancers

About the Author:

Katie Peyton is a Holistic Health Coach, Personal Trainer and world champion dancer. She has combined her 25 years of dance and her expertise in nutrition and fitness to create conditioning classes and nutrition lectures designed just for dancers. Katie empowers dancers to view themselves as athletes and gives them the tools to increase their strength, endurance, injury prevention and overall performance. 

For more, visit her website Dancer  Fitness! 




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