FLEXISTRETCHER ARABESQUE STRETCHES CHALLENGE

Looking to improve your arabesque? Try this stretch sequence to get the strength and flexibility to maintain a higher arabesque!

For more info. visit our YouTube Arabesque Focused Playlist!

The Ballerina Arabian Abs Workout

The coveted dancer six-pack is achievable this holiday season.   Whether you are rehearsing for Arabian in the Nutcracker or after the lean abdominals of a dancer, FLX can help you reach your fitness goals.  

FLX Ball exercising is effective at targeting core muscles, which are essential for stability and are often not accessed when exercising in a fixed position or on a static piece of exercise equipment. The ball is designed for strengthening the body’s core, which is imperative to improve functional strength in any form of dance, sport, or fitness.

The Arabian Abdominal Workout!

Repeat this series 3-5x..

Leg Kicks for a Better Arabesque

Melanie Hamrick

SETUP

  • Lying on your stomach, prop yourself up on your elbows with your legs glued together.
  • Take the Flexistretcher by the elastic, a little shorter than shoulder-width apart.
  • Pull your hands away from each other to create a resistance. Your hands and elbows should be in line.

ACTION

  • Feel your shoulders drop down your back. Hands are flat, pressing into the floor as if you are dragging yourself forward.
  • Lift your right leg 3 times without compromising your spinal extension.
  • Lift your left leg 3 times, pressing the leg into the back and keeping your chest forward

REPETITIONS: 0-15 each leg

SETS: 3-5

CUES:

  • Keep the elbows right underneath your shoulders as you feel the chest pull forward.
  • Pull the scapula down the back, feeling the neck elongate.
  • Press forearms down into the floor.
  • Hollow out your abs, pulling the belly button into the spine to protect from “sinking” in your lower spine.
  • Avoid rocking side to side.
  • Elongate the spine.
  • Keep the Flexistretcher pulled to a tension for the duration of the exercise.

MUSCLES TARGETED:  Back extensor muscles, hamstrings and gluteus maximus.

CHALLENGES: Lift the leg higher off of the floor keeping it right behind your spine. Practice with internal and external rotation.

MODIFICATIONS: Perform exercise without the strap. Try the classic pilates one leg kick, the video from Pilates on Fifth in NYC walks you through a great demonstration. 

Improve Arabesque by Encouraging use of the Hamstring

The FLXBall is a perfect portable tool that will improve your flexibility and strength training routine. The ball allows you to utilize the resistance and actively control your movements. Your body benefits from the ball’s instability to enhance the exercise’s effectiveness.

Try these exercises that focus on strengthening the hamstrings and external rotators of the hip to help improve your arabesque! The hip extensors (hamstrings) lift the leg to the back. Therefore, bringing focus to hamstrings and “lifting the leg from the knee” to encourage use of the hamstrings to extend the leg to the back will help increase leg height and reinforce correct form.

Rachel Hamrick

Perform these exercises anywhere—quickly and successfully!

CLAM:

Lying on your side, bend your knees and place the ball behind your knee. Feel your heel pull towards your sitz bone to activate your hamstring and hold the ball in place. 

Keeping your heels held together slowly open your top knee without rocking back. Return to your starting position. Concentrate on engaging your external rotators to complete the movement and perform the exercise in a slow controlled manner.

Repeat 10-15 times.

LIFT AND LOWER:

Lying on your side, bend your knees and place the ball behind the knee of your top leg. Pull your heel towards your sits bone to activate the hamstring and hold the ball in place.

Make sure the legs are stacked on top of each other and slowly lift the top leg. Pause.

Pulse the heel toward the sitz bone 5 times and lower to your starting position. Repeat the exercise 10 times.

Rachel Hamrick

LIFT AND EXTEND:

Lying on your side, bend your knees and place the ball behind the knee of your top leg. Pull your heel towards your sit bone to activate the hamstring and hold the ball in place.

Lift the top leg in line with the hip.

With control move the leg back by initiating the movement from the hamstring. Co-contract the abdominals to prevent splaying of the torso.

Perform 5 little pulses by drawing the heel toward the sits bone and pressing on the ball.

Return to step (1) with the top leg lifted in line with the hip

Repeat 10 times.

Arabesque with the Flexistretcher

Flexistretcher Arabesque

Flexistretcher How-To: The Classic Arabesque

1. To begin for the arabesque, make sure you are holding on to something stable.  Place both loops around your right foot.

2. Bend your right knee and draw it behind your back.

3. Thread your left arm through the straps, placing the foam pad around your left shoulder.

4. Extend the right leg into an arabesque.


IMPORTANT PLACEMENT TIPS:

  • Often, you will be holding the loops in each hand while your foot is on the foam pad of the Flexistretcher. Always put the foam pad around the center of your foot, not the heel or toes. This is to avoid the risk of the Flexistretcher sliding off the foot in the middle of the exercise.

  • For more advanced stretches, such as this one, both loops will be around the center of the foot and the foam pad will be around the OPPOSITE shoulder. Make sure to securely have the straps around the center of the foot and not the ankle.  This avoids the risk of not being able to safely and easily come out of the stretch.

  • NEVER place both loops around the ankle, make sure the loops are around the center of the foot.

CUES:

  • Actively engage the muscles throughout the movement.

  • Remember when you are performing this stretch, the band is only assisting, not holding you up!

  • Avoid bouncing or using momentum to swing your leg into a new range of motion.

WATCH OUT FOR:

  • The arabesque leg swinging past the midline of your body.

  • Medial rotation of the hip of the extended leg. The entire leg turning inward.

  • Inversion of the foot-a “sickled” foot.

IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTES!

  • NEVER place any part of the strap around your neck at any point.

  • For children under the age of 12 make sure that there is supervision and that proper usage is understood before attempting any stretch alone.

How To Improve Your Arabesque

When focusing on improving your arabesque line, pay attention to these keys things.  Learn the somatics behind this ballet position:

julialipari

1.) Focus on strengthening the hip and back extensors:

  • Hip extensors (hamstrings) lift the leg to the back, so focus on using the hamstrings to perform the movement.
  • Back extensors keep the torso upright as your pelvis tilts slightly forward once the leg is fully extended to back. This makes it necessary to engage the back extensors to prevent torso from falling forward.

2.) Aim to increase leg height without putting pressure or “sinking into” the lower (lumbar) spine:

  • Maximize external rotation of the thigh bone (femur) in the hip socket rather than rotate the pelvis (ie: ‘alasebesque’)
  • Think of “reaching the leg out” stretching across the front of the hip. (Really press out into the straps of the Flexistretcher)
  • Focus on “lifting the leg from the knee” to encourage use of the hamstrings to extend the leg to the back
  • Once full range of hip extension is achieved the pelvis pelvis must tilt anteriorly (forward). Concentrate on these cues, “pull abdominals in and up” while “lifting in upper back” to create an evenly distributed extension in the spine and to avoid sinking in the lower spine.

Here are 3 exercises to help you achieve the perfect arabesque line: 

1. Arabesque with the Flexistretcher

In a contract-relax active stretch with the Flexistretcher you assume a position and hold it there engaging the agonist muscles. These are the muscles required in ballet to développé the leg and hold a big extension, such as the arabesque. Then, by resisting the resistance as if you are pushing your leg down to the floor, engaging the targeted muscle, followed by the relaxation phase, and finishing with moving the limb into a greater range motion.

CUE: Lengthen down into the resistance ("reaching the leg out") and lift 2 inches. Repeat 10-20 times. Rest and Repeat. Perform 3 sets.

2. Cambré with the FLX Ball

Using the resistance of the FLX Ball to complete this exercise can keep the back strong and flexible for a more open arabesque and cambre back.  Focus on lengthening the spine as you extend. 

Melanie hamrick back extension.jpg

REPETITIONS: 10 sets with arms back by hips in super human pose. 10 sets with arms in 5th position over head. 10 sets with arms in second position. 

3. Hamstring Focus

Rachel Hamrick FLX Ball

Try this exercise to focus on strengthening the hamstrings and external rotators of the hip to help improve your arabesque! The hip extensors (hamstrings) lift the leg to the back. Therefore, bringing focus to hamstrings and “lifting the leg from the knee” to encourage use of the hamstrings to extend the leg to the back will help increase leg height and reinforce correct form.