Alison Deleget, athletic trainer at Harkness Center for Dance, says dancers can use these exercises as a warm-up to help prevent shinsplints and stress fractures. For each exercise, perform 10–15 reps, two to three times. The goal is not to fatigue the muscles, but to activate them.
Purpose: Strengthens deep rotators in the hips, stabilizing turnout.
Exercise: Lie on one side with legs bent at a 90-degree angle, feet in line with your hips. Keeping your feet together, rotate your top knee toward the ceiling, engaging turnout muscles, and return to parallel.
Purpose: Strengthens the feet, so that they properly interact with the floor during jumps.
Exercise: Sitting with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, contract the arch muscles of your feet so they create a dome with the toes still touching the floor. Release to neutral.
Purpose: Strengthens the feet, ankles and calf muscles that control ankle alignment.
Exercise: In a seated position with legs extended, grip the ends of a Thera-Band, looped taut around one foot. Slowly point and flex the foot, circle the ankles and move through sickled and winged positions.