Dancers Know Best:
The Most Effective Exercises
For the Hip, Knee, Ankle, or Foot


Leg injuries – affecting the hip, thigh, knee, shin, ankle, or foot – account for the majority of problems that athletes (and weekend athletes) grapple with.  Even if your idea of exercise is the occasional morning dash for the crosstown bus, you’re at risk of lower limb problems, too.

As you get older, even if you keep yourself in tip-top shape, you begin to ask yourself the depressing questions: Are my knee joints shot?  Will I need hip replacement surgery?  How can I prevent it?  How can I maintain a high level of physical activity into my seventies, eighties, and beyond?

Here’s Your Answer:  Exercises from ballet and other forms of dance are some of the best exercises ever devised, especially for the lower limb. 

I have years of dance training in my background, and as a chiropractor I’ve continued to work with dancers, as well as other athletes, incorporating state-of-the-art rehabilitative exercise into their comprehensive treatment programs. 

You can benefit from this expertise too.

The typical exercise program for the lower body uses a lot of non-weightbearing exercise.  That means that you are sitting or lying down, using weights or resistance bands to exercise the leg muscles in isolation.  Sometimes these exercises are necessary during an early phase of your healing, but relying on this type of exercise can delay your recovery and in some circumstances can even backfire and make you worse.

Because dance exercises are typically done in the standing position, the muscles gain strength while the brain learns to control posture and balance.  You get twice the benefit.  

Pliť:  A French Word That Should Be Part of Your Vocabulary

By the time a dancer appears on stage, he has practiced hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of pliés.  (Here’s how to pronounce it:  the word has two syllables:  plea-ay)

A plié seems simple on the surface – you stand and bend your knees, then straighten them.

This simple exercise does a lot – it engages your abdominal muscles to support your posture, strengthens the quadriceps and hamstrings, stretches the calf, trains the knees to stay in line, and more.  But exercise details are important.

If you don’t have proper alignment of your whole torso, as well as the knees and hips, you can make your problem worse.  That’s why I can’t just show you a picture of a plié and expect that you can do them on your own.   You have to be taught one-to-one by someone who knows what they’re doing. 

Schedule a visit to evaluate your problem.  Then I’ll show you proper technique for the plié, and then we’ll move on to my other favorites, including the tendu and the relèvé. 

You may need a session or two to get the hang of it.  But most people can learn to exercise properly:  on their own, with little or no equipment, at home.  Once people learn basic principles of proper alignment, they don’t need someone to hover over them to make sure they’re doing their exercises.


Ronald Lavine, D.C.

PS - First Steps to Diagnose Knee Pain, Patellofemoral Disorder & Other Knee Problems

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New York, NY 10010


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The content on this site is copyright 2010-2012 Ronald Lavine, D.C. It's provided for informational purposes only. If I've never examined or treated you, how can I understand the specifics of your situation? Don't be an idiot - always consult your own health professional as appropriate.

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