A ballet dancer's repetitive front kicks can tighten the hip flexors.
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Dancing is not like a fitness class in which participants do an equal number of exercises on each leg. A dancer's powerful legs are used to propel, spin or bend. All these movements use the hip flexors, which are located at the very tops of the thighs. Dancing, which can be repetitive as you rehearse the same choreography, can tighten the hip flexors. If the tops of your thighs feel tight, painful or swollen, a series of stretches can reduce your discomfort.1.
Warm the legs before you stretch with five to 10 minutes of activity. Use full-body movements such as walking, cycling, dancing or stair climbing to increase the blood flow to your hip flexors.2.
Perform a standing hip flexor stretch using the ballet bar or a wall for balance if needed. Stand tall and shift your weight onto your right foot. Bend your left knee and raise your left foot toward your buttocks. Reach behind you and grasp the top of your left foot with your left hand. Keep your knees together and your left knee pointing toward the floor. Tilt your hips forward slightly until you feel the stretch in your hip flexor. Maintain the stretch for at least 20 seconds. Repeat the stretch two to four times on each leg.3.
Use a lunge stretch to get a little deeper into the hip flexor. Step your right foot forward into a lunge and place your hands on the floor on both sides of your right foot. Position your chest over your right thigh, or slightly to the inside of your thigh if you are very flexible. Keep your right shin vertical. Straighten your left leg behind you and press the toes of your left foot into the floor. Lower your left knee to the floor. Push your left hip toward the floor until you feel a stretch in your hip flexor. Breathe normally as you maintain the stretch for at least 20 seconds. Repeat the stretch on both legs two to four times.4.
Add a side-lying stretch to your routine to target the hip flexor from a different angle. Lie on your right side with your right leg straight on the floor. Bend your right elbow and support your head in your right hand. Bend your left knee and raise your left foot toward your backside. Reach behind with your left hand and grasp the top of your left foot. Gently pull your left foot toward you until you feel the stretch in your hip flexor. Maintain the stretch for at least 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side and two to four times on both legs.
- Stretch only to the point where you feel slight tension. Do not stretch to the point of pain. Move into and out of the stretches slowly. Complete your hip flexor stretches on a daily basis, particularly before and after you dance to maintain hip flexibility and reduce discomfort. Set aside time for your flexibility exercises just as you do for your dance practice.
- Speak with your doctor if you are experiencing hip flexor discomfort. The stretches are a way to improve flexibility, but they are not meant to rehabilitate an injury.