As an athlete and running coach, Burlington Mall store ambassador, Kristina Pinto likes to baffle friends and clients by telling them she spent years in tutus, sparkles and an Ozone’s worth of hairspray. These days, you won’t find her on centre stage but that’s not to say she doesn’t rock a plié every now and then.
3 ballet exercises for running injury reduction
For the first week perform one set of each exercise (10 repetitions) on each leg every day. On week two, add a second set. Leave the pointe shoes out of it and do all of these exercises barefoot.
closed demi and grand pliés
benefit: opens hip flexors; stretches calves, achilles, quads and glutes; strengthens gluteus medius
1. Facing a table or chair, hold on with two hands (once your balance improves turn to the side and use one hand) and stand with your heels together making a narrow ‘V’ (toes pointed out at about a 45-degree angle) with your feet.
2. Slowly, for a count of two, bend your knees and lower into a demi-squat. Be sure your knees are pointed over your toes, not collapsing inward as you bend. Your heels should remain on the ground.
3. Raise back up to the original position for a count of two.
4. Slowly, for a count of four, bend your knees and lower into a deeper squat. Keep your heels on the ground for as long as possible. Again, be sure your knees are pointed over your toes, not collapsing inward.
5. Raise back up to the original position for a count of four.
side leg devlopés
benefit: opens hip flexors; strengthens and elongates calves, hamstrings, adductors and arches; tones glutes; promotes balance
1. Start in the same position as in exercise one.
2. Supporting your weight on one leg, without sitting low in your hip, lift and bend your other leg pulling your heel up along your calf until it reaches your knee.
3. Straighten the raised leg so that it is in an open position (out to the side) hovering about 8-12 inches off the floor. Make sure your hips are straight, facing forward and that the hip of your raised leg is not tipped upward.
4. Keeping your leg straight, lower it back to the original position.
rond de jambe
benefit: opens hip joints; strengthens arches, achilles, quads, hamstrings, glutes and hips; stretches adductors
1. Stand with heels together and toes turned out in a ‘V’ as in the first two exercises. In this case, you will need to turn so that you have one hand on the table or chair in order to have a full range of motion.
2. Supporting your weight on the leg closest to the table, raise your outer leg forward while keeping the turned out position of both feet. It should reach a height of about 6-8 inches off the floor. Both legs should be straight throughout this exercise, which is performed in a slow, fluid motion to the count of four.
3. Open the raised leg to the side, maintaining its height off the floor. Be sure not to tilt your outer hip upward as your working leg makes its way to the side. Stay strong in your core to keep the hips level.
4. Continue the fluid movement from the side position to the back. Make sure your torso is lifted and straight, not pitched forward, and that your shoulders are relaxed. Try to keep the hipbone of your working leg angled down, rather than opening your hips to the outside.
5. Lower the working leg back down to the original position. Then, lift the working leg to the rear and reverse the circle in another fluid motion to a count of four.
If these exercises have left visions of a younger-you dancing in your head, try a barre class to channel your inner ballerina and get a kickass workout.