running en pointe

ballet-exercises - running injuries

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.

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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.


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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

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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.

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Great basic moves, but feet should never ever be flexed (as shown in the photos). Also, rond de jambes are usually done at 45 and 90 degree angles, so it’s really important to lift your hip slightly when moving beyond your natural turnout. Otherwise, you can rib the cartilage in your joints.

Comment by Katy — March 29, 2012 @ 10:43 am

I was glad to find this on Facebook….I am a runner who is experiencing “jumpers knee” and just started back running after taking a little break (one week) to let it recover a bit. I am currently running in a Jumper band which helps a lot. I am interested in stengthening my knee area to help prevent further damage and to correct the situation. I like the idea of using ballet moves to help. Thanks so much for the post.

Comment by Suzanne — March 29, 2012 @ 10:46 am

If you have knee issues, you may wish to skip the grand plies and stick to the demi plies. The pressure on the knees from the range of flexion of the grand, combined with the rotation from the turnout can be challenging. I damaged my knee through years of serious ballet training, but I can run with a knee brace!

Comment by RLS — March 29, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

Love the ballet post, brings back lots of memories. As a guy that grew up performing those ballet moves, I don’t think that’s fair to say ‘run like a girl’ in the photo. Unless that’s the reason nobody wants to go running with me :)

Comment by Josh H. — March 29, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

@Josh – haha, could be! I’d still run with you though!

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Comment by Allessia — March 29, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

Great exercises. I agree with Katy regarding foot flexed position in traditional ballet. I will say, however, considering that these are intended for runners who often have tight calves that cause shin splints and other alignment issues, the modification to having toes flexed up (ankles in dorsiflexion) is more beneficial here.

Suzanne: if you have jumpers knee, perhaps perform the plies in a jazz parallel (feet shoulder width apart) or in ballet second position so that you have keep the knees over the ankles. This should increase the demand on the hip muscles and alleviate the compression force on the knees.

Yay Lulu! Thanks for being awesome!!

Comment by Jenn — May 30, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

I have actually had a lot of pain both dancing and running. I’ve found in the end that the muscles counteract each other for the best – that is, stretching them out…but one workout running to the next at the barre is very painful! Tips for easing the transition?

Comment by Linnaea — October 9, 2012 @ 2:52 pm

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