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Increase Dancers' Ankle Strength and Balance with These Three Moves

Posted by Katie Peyton on Sep 20, 2018


So many dancers and teachers focus on core strength when it comes to turns, balance and stability, but not much attention is paid to the ankles until dancers start pointe or have an injury. Increasing ankle strength is essential when a dancer keeps dropping their heel, hopping in their turns or have a low relevé.

The health of your dancer’s feet and ankles effects the health of their knees, hips and everything else moving upward so I encourage you to take the time to work on these smaller areas as they can greatly improve larger muscles and structures of the body.

Try these three moves to increase ankle strength in your next practice and have your dancers try these at home while brushing their teeth or chatting at the kitchen counter.

The Three Moves You Need to Know to Increase Ankle Stability for Dance

1. Knee Drives


  • Before you begin, find stability on one leg. Spread out your toes and grip the floor as if you’re a monkey getting ready to climb a tree.
  • Place the other leg behind you for stability.
  • Drive the extended leg up leading with your knee and press your working foot into a tall Relevé.
  • Hold for one count
  • Place the leg back down behind you and come to flat foot.
  • Repeat 10 times on each leg


2. Cross Hops


  • Coupe´ one leg behind the other, and place your hands on your hips.
  • Spring off the floor and jump in a cross position.
  • Hop forward, hop backwards, hop left, hop right.
  • Focus on rolling through the working foot and landing in a soft plié.
  • Keeping your foot in coupe´ repeat 5 times on each leg.


3. Leg Swings


  • Before you begin, find stability on one leg. Spread out your toes and grip the floor as if you’re a monkey getting ready to climb a tree.
  • Place your hands on your hips.
  • Lift the other leg off the floor just a few inches and straighten the knee.
  • Swing the leg side to side, and then front to back.
  • 10 times in each direction
  • Switch legs and repeat three times.


Overall, we can take a lesson in increasing ankle strength from a game of Jenga. Imagine the tall stack of blocks as your dancer’s body. We can push and pull from the middle and still have some stability, but everyone knows you NEVER pull a block from the bottom if you want to win. Pulling a block from the bottom compromises the entire structure. Encourage dancers to create a strong foundation from the bottom up, keep their ankles healthy and strong so they can stay “stacked” and stable in their turns and holds.


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! 
Check out her Instagram @ dancer_fitness.com_
Or email her at katie@dancer-fitness.com 



Topics: Coaching Tips, Competition Resources

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