5 Props Every Dancer Should Have in Their Dance Bags
As dancers we rely on our body weight to stretch and strengthen our muscles, but there are many tools that can help us strengthen and stretch in a more healthy and impactful way. Below we share 5 props you should have as a dancer.
Every dancer should have one or two yoga blocks either in their dance bags or at their homes. Why yoga blocks? They are a great tool to help you stretch in a healthy way… we’ve all taken prey to jamming into our stretches or manipulating our placement to trick ourselves into thinking we are going deeper into our stretches. However, these techniques do not work and end up hurting our bodies and progress. Yoga blocks can either aid in increasing your flexibility and helping you keep proper alignment.
Helpful hint: Here are a few ways you can use yoga blocks to help gain greater flexibility.
When stretching in butterfly, place a yoga block in front of you and rest your hands on it. The yoga block will help you keep a straight spin, allowing for proper stretching; when we round our backs it actually prohibits you from going deeper in your stretch.
You can also use two yoga blocks when trying to get a flatter split. Place a yoga block on either side of your front leg in line with your hips and place your hands on either side. Slowly lower into your split. This technique will allow you to keep both of your legs straight and keep proper alignment. We have a tendency to shift our weight to either side instead of keeping ourselves aligned in the center. This poor alignment leads to our kicks being lower than we would think and less flat leaps.
Therabands are a MUST for dancers! Many dancers think a theraband is only used to strengthen their feet. However you can strengthen your whole body especially your shoulders and arms which are easily neglected in class but are so important in all our movement.
Pinkie Balls are a great tool for rolling out those hard to get stiff muscles. Try rolling out your calves, lower back, sides of your hips, or any other places you feel need a little extra love. Also, try rolling out before and after class; you’ll be surprised where you hold tension in class.
Ankle Weights/Arm Weights
Just like therabands are excellent for strengthening our bodies, the same goes for ankle and arm weights. By wearing weights, you can quickly identify when you’re “cheating” or using improper muscles to execute moves. For example, try putting the weights on your ankles and try developeing your leg. You may find that all along you’ve been using your hip flexors to lift your leg, instead of your glutes and quads. By strengthening these muscles, you may find you have less hip irritation.
When used for stretching, yoga straps are THE best! Instead of jamming your body or hunching over to grab your leg while you stretch, you can use a strap to help you. This not only will keep proper alignment, but trust it will exponentially help you increase your flexibility in a healthy way. Additionally they can help execute other challenging stretches with your quads, back, hamstrings, and more.
What other props should dancers keep in their dance bags? Drop your thoughts in the comment section!