3 Ways to Improve Your Dance Technique with the FLX Ball

The inflatable FLX Ball is a perfect portable tool to add to your strength routine. This 9 inch portable ball adds a level of instability that challenges your muscles in a new way. The FLX Ball helps to:


flx ball foot focus

1.

IMPROVE YOUR ARCH!  

  • HOW? By utilizing the ball's surface and working against it you can strengthen the small intrinsic muscles of the foot. By strengthening these muscles you will be able to work in through your full range of flexibility and showcase your maximum point. 

TRY THIS : 

SETUP :  Sit down with your right heel resting on the ground and place the FLX Ball under the toes of your right foot

ACTION :

  • Begin by pressing the toes straight down.

  • Continue by doming the arch.

  • Feel the arch pull up as your toes and metatarsals press into the ball.

REPETITIONS : 10 times

SETS : 2-3


2.

 

IMPROVE YOUR JUMP!

flx ball for jumping
  • HOW?  The primary action of the toes is to propel the body forward. When jumping in classical ballet, we use the toes as a “push off” from the ground to gain height in the air. By building strength through the intrinsic muscles of the foot when pressing the foot into the ground and improving articulation when propelling the body up into the air you will improve the technique of jumping and see a much higher and quicker lift off.

TRY THIS:

SETUP : Sit down with your right heel resting on the ground and place the FLX Ball under the toes or your right foot.

ACTION :

  • With wide straight toes press down into the ball and hold for 5 seconds.

  • Aim to press with the back of your toes to keep the toes very straight.

REPETITIONS : 10 times

SETS : 2-3


3.

IMPROVE YOUR EXTENSION!

  • HOW? When looking to gain leg height in classical ballet technique many bad alignment habits can take over to try to achieve the desired position. Specifically when trying to improve extension to front one might tuck the pelvis under, round at the spine or roll in at the foot and ankle of the standing leg. These happen as a result of weak abdominal muscles. By strengthening the abdominal muscles and performing exercises that mimic the movements required of classical ballet technique you can improve strength and correct muscle activation so that bad habits do not take over and you can focus on achieving a well placed high leg to the front.

flx ball ab work

TRY THIS

Scissors with the FLX BALL: use the FLX BALL to help lift the shoulders off of the ground and take any tension out of the neck. Perform this exercise with the legs externally rotated. 20 times for 3-5 sets.

 
flx ball flexion

Abdominal Flexion with the FLX BALL: use the FLX Ball to help lift the shoulders off of the ground. Extend back over the ball and then return lifting the shoulders up and gazing in at your belly button. Try with both legs up and externally rotated and then for more a targeted approach lower one leg towards the ground (about 5 inches from the ground) and perform 20 “crunches”. Rest and repeat with other leg up. 3-5 sets.


Flexistretcher Scissor Series

Try this challenging Flexistretcher Scissor Series! 

SETUP // Hands hold onto the Flexistretcher, shoulder-width distance apart, gently pulling on the elastic as the shoulder's stay down away from the ears. 

ACTION // With straight legs, draw one leg in at a time, gently pressing on the Flexistretcher.

FLX CHALLENGE // To intensify the movement, tap the shins or tops of the feet to the Flexistretcher for deeper core activation. 

Click here more exercises & to shop the Flexistretcher : http://goo.gl/m3WJ04

4 Exercises to Strengthen Your Upper Body

Try these 4 upper body strengthening exercises from FLX Ambassador & Polish National Ballet Dancer, Aneta Helena Wira! For more exercises like these, check out her blog, Simple Dancer's Life. 


Stay up-to-date on all of Aneta's posts!

INSTAGRAM : @simpledancerslife

FACEBOOK : @Simpledancerslife

Pull Down

FLEXISTRETCHER PULL DOWN

Belly-Down-Pulse-Up.gif

BACK ARM PULSES

Tricep Pull

SEATED TRICEP PULL

Pull apart

UPPER BODY WIDE ARM PULL


Shop the Flexistretcher now & try these exercises for yourself! 

SHOP HERE: FLEXISTRETCHER.COM

3 Exercises to Improve your Turnout

A common muscular imbalance found in dancers is tight and weak abductors. Muscular imbalances can lead to compensating and incorrect form, which can result in injury. The repetitive nature of ballet and most sports can cause certain muscle groups to work way more than others leading to a muscular imbalance. This type of work can inhibit a dancer or athlete from attaining peak performance if a weakness or tightness is never addressed. 

Try these exercises to strengthen these muscles!

FLEXISTRETCHER MONSTER WALKS

REPETITION: Begin with 5 walks forward and 5 walks back

SETS:   3-5 sets

CUES:  Watch out for the pelvis tilting. Keep the hip bones level and concentrate on movement in the leg only.

MODIFICATIONS: Take smaller or bigger steps.

 

FLEXISTRETCHER SUPINE MIDDLE SPLIT SERIES

 

Clam with FLX Ball

Raising the Barre

Dancer's Weakness

To reach the top of the field and avoid injury, today’s dancers realize that an effective strength and flexibility routine is needed in addition to the daily grind of ballet class to advance and improve technique rather than only maintaining it. Repetition of movements incorrectly each day can hinder improvement and lead to overused muscle groups with eventual injury. To cope with the hardcore effects of injury, dancer’s often turn to Pilates and Physical Therapy. Yet, applying these same principles to your daily training routine can keep supple, agile muscles in full range of motion and improve functional strength. You can then avoid injury, stay in peak performance shape, and reach your maximum potential.

The life of a dancer is so rigorous with rehearsals 10 hours a day, 7 days a week. In times of fatigue is when weaknesses of the body are apparent, and the body is more prone to injury. How do you find a balance of maintaining the body and still advance physically and mentally?

Rachel Hamrick

Flexistretcher® products are the outcome of not only personal experience but researched training for ballet-specific movement patterns that adhere to the aesthetic required of the art form.

Why Flexi? 

  • The Flexistretcher, serves the needs of the professional dancer
    • They assist to maintain and further improvements in technique, keeping the body in its elite form and advancing to one’s fullest capabilities.
  • This is a training methods for dancers to combat weaknesses and muscle tightness. With these methods, professionals, students and any active individual can achieve the desired aesthetics for which dancer’s strive.
  • Portability. Whether at the studio, on tour, in the gym, or at home, Flexistretcher® products can go with you. 

Dancers today are constantly working to exceed the boundaries of dancers past and outstep the limits asked today. Incorporating these proven training techniques with Flexistretcher® products into your daily schedule can help your body to reach these limits and overcome them.  

Surviving in today’s dance world means keeping up with the fittest. Learn from dancer’s past and evolve with demands by avoiding injury and choosing to surpass your own expectations.  


Improve your Jumps, Turns, and Extensions with the FLX Ball

Whether you are a dancer, athlete or avid exerciser cross training and strengthening the abdominal muscles not only gives you a desired washboard aesthetic, but will enhance your balance and stability.

Many movements originate from the center of the body and the abdominal wall helps to stabilize the entire body. Having strong abdominals can enhance complicated movements, such as the ones required in ballet technique along. In addition, it can help with everyday movements and daily tasks such as walking up a steep flight of stairs, rebounding from a fall or carrying a heavy bag.  

Researchers have noted key benefits such as:

  • Improved posture
  • Alleviated back pain
  • Better athletic performance 
  • Improved balance. 

Increased abdominal activation and awareness promotes improvements in qualities necessary for ballet movements such as balance, turning, holding extensions and jumps. Body coordination is required to successfully accomplish many of these movements and learning to recruit strong abdominal muscles to perform complicated movements will result in noticeable advancements.

Dance Anatomy, asserts that with the rise in “extreme choreography dancers must now take their bodies to the extreme and their conditioning to the next level.” 


Try this exercise utilizing the FLX Ball. Implement it into your training routine and see results in your dancing and everyday movements.  FLX Ball exercising targets the abdominal muscles that are essential for stability and are often not accessed when exercising in a fixed position or on a static piece of exercise equipment. 

WARNING: Side effects include a more ‘chiseled’ abdominal area resulting in a washboard effect!  

ABDOMINAL FLEXION EXERCISE:

SETUP:  Place the FLX Ball at your upper back between your scapula. Legs are bent with feet flat on the floor and hands are behind your head with elbows wide.

ACTION:  With slow controlled movements, lift the upper torso gazing in at your belly button and return to a slight spinal extension.  

 

CHALLENGE: Add a twist. Fold up as you twist to the right. Roll back in the twist, rotate to center as your upper back extends over the ball. Fold up as you twist to the left. Roll back in the twist and rotate to center as you move into a little extension.

Repeat 20 times.  

Now try an added challenge with a different arm variation:  

SETUP:  Legs are bent pressed together with feet flat on the floor and arms are straight over head with fingers interlaced and index fingers pulling arms straight behind head.

ACTION:  With slow controlled movements, lift upper torso gazing in at your belly button and return to a slight spinal extension.

Repeat 20 times.  

Abdominal Flexion

Hip Flexor Stretch to Help Improve Your Arabesque

Adequate flexibility of the muscles crossing the hip are important for achieving the aesthetic goals of the skilled dancer and are needed for the successful execution of movements such as arabesque.

Try this stretch to stretch the front of the hip:

Hip Flexor Stretch

Hip flexor flexibility is critical for allowing proper technique when moving the leg to the back.

Weakness and tightness of the hip flexors or psoas muscle can result in mis-alignments of the lumbar spine and pelvis, which then affect the legs and stability of the spine especially when mastering movements of ballet technique.  

Melanie Hamrick

CUES:

  • Keep the front knee directly over the front ankle.

  • Press your hips forward and down

  • Avoid bouncing, sustain the pose for 10-15 breathes. Release and repeat.

  • Press the hands on the thigh of the front leg to keep the torso upright.

  • Once you are comfortable in this position, reach your arms forward and up.

MODIFICATIONS:

  • Lunge with the back foot remaining on the ground.

  • Hands can press into blocks on either side of the foot to maintain balance.

3 Exercises You'll Want to Add to Your Daily Training Routine

Try incorporating these exercises into your daily training routine to give an added challenge and stretch.

1.) Twist and Switch with the FLX Ball

Dance Anatomy, a ballet and athletic training literature, asserts that with the rise in “extreme choreography dancers must now take their bodies to the higher levels and their conditioning to the same extent as well.” Not only are dancers called to pirouette, but you may now be called to take that pirouette off balance, quickly, or within a complex choreographic pattern all the while maintaining correct alignment. The FLX Ball can take you there. It is highly effective in activating the abdominals more so than regular crunches or abdominal workouts, because unstable surface requires the muscles to fire at a higher level. 

FLX Ball Bicycles

 

2.) King Pigeon with the Flexistretcher

Turnout describes the position of the legs in which each leg is rotated in the opposite direction from the other facing away from the midline of the body. The International Association for Dance Medicine and Science states that the function of all six deep rotator muscles or “turnout muscles” is to laterally rotate or turn out the leg, relative to the pelvis. It is often difficult for dancers to isolate and strengthen this muscle group through ballet technique alone.  In ballet especially, the turnout muscles are recruited for most functional movements which can lead to tight, imbalanced muscles.  To counteract this tightness, try a yoga pigeon pose or King Pigeon pose to release tension in this muscle group allowing you to improve correct rotation of the leg.

Flexistretcher Pigeon

3.) Relevé Walk with the FLX Ball

Karen S. Clippinger, author of Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology, asserts that “the repetitive use of the demi pointe places a lot of demands on the foot and requires a specialized strength, flexibility and technique development.” When finding this necessary strength it is important to couple the leg and foot together so that you can then master pirouettes among other dance movements while preventing injury. Relevé walks with the FLX Ball target the stirrup muscles needed to work through releve correctly and prevent injury from overuse. You can then take the Small FLX Massage Ball to the arch of the foot to alleviate tension and release the intrinsic muscles of the foot worked in relevé. Thus, making your relevé easier and more fluid.  

FLX Ball Releve Walk

Cross Training for Dance

Who remembers those good ole' days when you were thrilled to get out of gym class because of a written note from your ballet teacher? Priceless. Back in the days of Balanchine, and old school teachers…their mentality was to encourage dancers to Live, Eat, Breathe only dance.

All you needed was a daily dose of plies and you were on your way to that perfectly sculpted, sinewy ballet body.  But times have changed, and so has our information, education, and body awareness. Ballet works certain muscles and neglects others (like most genres of fitness), so in order to be fit, healthy and well rounded, we, as dancers, should branch out a bit, and raise the "barre" so to speak.

Melissa chapski Arabesque

With the vast majority of body types out there, you have to discover what your personal weaknesses are and how to improve them. Maybe they have been hiding, or you just simply didn’t understand how to “use” them.

For instance, maybe your dance teacher discouraged you from running the cross country mile not out of hatred for running (Lord knows Ballet has a lot of it!) but for fear of your knees because of hyper extension or hyper mobile joints. Dance and most sports are based on repetitive movements and this can lead to a muscular imbalance and injury can result. Healthy cross training helps strengthen weakened and underused muscles, which is ideal for building functional strength and flexibility.

Learning about your body is the first step to becoming aware of how to “even out”. We should watch things like, “that’s my good side” or “ that’s my bad leg” and try to be well rounded as dancers and athletes in general.  If your body is working imbalanced, then something else will overcompensate, triggering a myriad of repercussions that may eventually lead to injury. And who wants that?? So, what does that mean? Yes, that means left side! (if you are a "rightie") And maybe that means stepping out of the studio and into the world of cross training to improve your craft. 

Remember...good dancers focus on their strengths, maximizing potential benefits while ignoring, covering up, and compensating for weakness.  However, elite dancers confront their weaknesses and focus on them in their conditioning program, helping to avoid injury and allow for peak performance.

Cross-Train with Yoga to Improve Turnout!

Cross-training with yoga has a variety of benefits for dancers wishing to improve technique, from turnout to flexibility.


In dance, ballet especially, the turnout muscles - also known as the hip external rotators - are recruited for most functional movements. Ballet dancers often attempt to achieve or increase these “turned out” positions with excessive motions of the ankle and knee or posteriorly tilting the pelvis to give the visual of the required aesthetic.  This action can lead to tight, imbalanced muscles.

To counteract this tightness, you have to focus on strengthening opposing muscle groups (in this case hip internal rotators) and stretching out the highly used external rotators to re-balance your body.   One way to combat the tightness in the external hip rotators is with Yoga! 

Try this yoga pose to improve hip rotation:

Double Pigeon

 

2 Yoga Poses that Help with Ballet Technique

In dance the hip external rotators are constantly recruited and this action can lead to tight, imbalanced muscles. To counteract this tightness, you have to focus on stretching out the highly used external rotators to help avoid injury and maintain freedom of movement.

The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries suggests :

Prevention/tips for dancers:

  • Try to maintain flexibility in the hip joints, including the iliopsoas, iliotibial band (ITB) and gluteal muscles. This will help prevent injuries caused by friction. This may involve some stretches which are not covered in daily ballet class, so try to do them after class when you are really warm, and hold them for a minimum of 30 seconds.

  • Keep a balance between left and right side leg strength, to avoid overworking muscles, and muscle imbalance issues.

2 DEEP HIP STRETCHES TO ADD TO YOUR FLEXIBILITY ROUTINE :

1. HAPPY BABY WITH THE FLEXISTRETCHER //  

Flexistretcher happy baby rein short


2. KING PIGEON // (back leg bent for more of a challenge straighten back leg)

The Evolution of Ballet Conditioning

The tradition of ballet has surpassed early foundations since the creation of the pointe shoe - from higher extensions to precision of movement and turnout. 

While the courts of King Louis emphasized the subtle beauty of regal movements, ballet dancers since that time must now work to add physicality and strength.  Dancers join these traits to complete the movement patterns required of choreographic standards in the current dance world and to appear effortless in these movements. The body then becomes a means of artistic expression, divulging the dancer’s soul.

"To fully express oneself through movement as a skilled professional, reach the top of the field and avoid injury, today’s dancers realize that an effective strength and flexibility routine is needed." -Rachel Hamrick, FLX Founder & Flexistretcher Creator

Implementing a conditioning routine that complements the daily grind of ballet class will allow the dancer to advance and improve technique rather than only maintaining it. Repetition of movements incorrectly each day can hinder improvement and lead to overused muscle groups with eventual injury. To cope with the hardcore effects of injury, dancer’s often turn to Pilates and Physical Therapy.  Yet, applying these same principles to your daily training routine can keep supple, agile muscles in full range of motion and improve functional strength.  You can then avoid injury, stay in peak performance shape, and reach your maximum potential.

With the increase in taxing demands placed on a dancer’s body, waiting for an injury to instill these exercises will not advance you further but simply revert you to pre-injury form.  

flexistretcher

The life of a dancer or elite level athlete is so rigorous with rehearsals and practice 10 hours a day, 7 days a week.  In times of fatigue is when weaknesses of the body are apparent, and the body is more prone to injury, it's important to find a balance of maintaining the body and but still evolving physically and mentally.  That's where FLX comes in.  

FLX Founder, Rachel Hamrick, has researched and created tailored exercises with custom designed products that are portable, effective and compliment a dancer's lifestyle.  FLX products are the outcome of not only personal experience but researched training for ballet-specific movement patterns that adhere to the aesthetic required of the art form.  Serving the needs of the professional dancer, they assist to maintain and further improvements in technique, keeping the body in its elite form and advancing to one’s fullest capabilities.

FLX Your Ability. Shop now!  

How to Improve Coordination, Balance and Strength

Working against the resistance and instability of the FLX Ball creates better body awareness and enforces controlled active movements. Actively contracting key muscles to initiate or complete a movement will result in improvements in form, function, and strength.  Performing your exercises this way without use of momentum or gravity to complete a movement will allow for a more beneficial and efficient workout. 

This FLX Ball exercise is great to work on improvements in coordination, balance, and strength.

SETUP:

Sit down with both legs long in front of you. Place the FLX Ball under the back of your ankles and press down to stabilize. Lift hips and hold yourself up with your arms.

ACTION:

Lift one leg up to the front and place it back on the ball.

Switch legs. Lift other leg up to the front and place it back on the ball.

REPETITIONS: 10 each leg.

SETS: 2-3


CUES

  • Press your arms into the ground to lift out of the shoulders. 
  • Actively engage your core to stabilize and to initiate the leg kick to the front.
  • As your leg presses down into the ball; pull up on the thigh and feel the hamstring engage by lifting up into a co-contraction of the quadriceps and hamstrings. 

CHALLENGES:  Add a développé motion to the exercise with external rotation.

Front Développé with the FLX Ball


SETUP: Place the FLX Ball under your bottom ankle with top leg stacked on top of bottom leg in a ballet fifth position.

ACTION:

  • Press down on ball and lift hips off of the floor.
  • Begin by bending the top leg into a passé and développé the leg in front of you.
  • Focus is on the bottom leg making sure it is active and engaged for the duration of the exercise.

REPETITIONS: 10 times on each leg.

SETS: 3-5

CUES:

  • Maintain your neutral spine.
  • Watch out for tucking of the pelvis to complete the movement.
  • Extend through and active the bottom leg.
  • Avoid “gripping” in the hip flexors to begin the movement. This happens when the pelvis is not in alignment.

TARGET MUSCLES: Hip Flexors(iliopsoas), hip abductors, and external rotators.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: Pain in the hip flexors or a past hip injury.

DANCER FOCUS:

  • Bring focus to activating the bottom leg and engaging the abdominals to complete the movement as this is what will help perform the movement standing up.