Tools of the Trade

The number of dance tools available can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, there is no magic gadget to make you the perfect dancer. The only way to improve is to work hard daily! Following are a few items many dancers find beneficial. Please talk to your instructor for more specific recommendations.

Thera-Band Resistance Bands

A resistance band is one of the least expensive, yet most beneficial items you should own. Thera-Bands are great because they can be used for multiple purposes, including flexibility and strength resistance exercises. Stretching is such a critical aspect of staying healthy and injury-free; do it daily!

Foam and Stick Rollers

Foam and stick rollers are great for working out the pains in your IT bands, calves, back and shins. Find one that has enough support to work the deep kinks out, but it's not so hard that it hurts.

Tennis Ball

A common tennis ball can serve as a useful tool for strengthening and rehabilitating your feet. Whether you have an injury, high arches, flat feet, bunions or calluses, tennis ball exercises for feet provide an easy, inexpensive self-maintenance tool for healthy feet. Following are a few exercises you can do with a tennis ball:

Rolling Massage

Rolling the foot with a tennis ball provides a self-controlled massage and stretch for the bottom of the foot and plantar fascia. Start by sitting on a chair and placing the tennis ball under your foot. Gently apply as much pressure as you can tolerate to push the ball into the floor, rolling the ball back and forth from your toes to your heel. Roll the ball for 30 seconds and switch to the other foot. Perform the rolling massage tennis ball exercise two to four days per week to prevent foot-related injuries.

Flexion Stretch

Maximizing the flexibility of the muscles and tendons within your foot, ankle and lower leg is essential for optimal foot strength and function. To improve your flexibility, perform a flexion stretch using the tennis ball placed against a wall. Start by placing the ball of one foot on top of the ball with your heel flat on the floor. Slowly lean your upper body into the wall to increase the stretch felt in the foot, ankle and lower leg. Hold the stretch for three slow breaths and switch feet.

Spot Pressure

Spot pressure exercises simply focus on any adhesions within the muscles of the bottom of the foot. Place the tennis ball under the ball of your foot and firmly press your foot into the ball for 10 seconds in different locations. Start by focusing on three spots near the base of your toes, gradually working the ball towards your heel.

Standing Massage

The standing massage exercise is an advanced exercise derived from the rolling massage. You can apply more pressure to increase the intensity of the exercise by applying more body weight into the ball. Similar to the rolling massage, place the tennis ball under one foot while standing, steadying yourself against a wall. Apply as much pressure as you can tolerate. Roll the ball back and forth from your toes to heel for 30 seconds and switch feet.