Photo by Erin Baiano

The 3 Best Exercises to Help Dancers Prevent Knee Injuries

When it comes to injury-prone body parts, knees reign supreme for dancers. But a little strengthening can go a long way in preventing painful outcomes. We turned to Dirk Hartog, a physical therapist with Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC, for three exercises that'll support and stabilize your knees.


Photography by Erin Baiano. Hair and makeup by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc. Modeled by Nellie Licul.


Exercise #1: Knee Rotation Control

NOTE: This exercise encourages proper rotation and control of your lower leg, which, if incorrectly turned out, can strain around and below your knee.

1. Put a sock on your right foot. Lie on your back with your hips and knees bent at about 90 degrees and your feet hip-width apart and planted firmly against a stable wall. The front of your tibia should be in line with the space between your second and third toes.

Exercise #2: Body-Weight Squats

NOTE: This exercise helps strengthen your quads, so they can absorb the shock of jumps and floorwork, protecting the soft-tissue structures of your knees.

1. Begin with your feet hip-width apart and your toes slightly turned out. Find your neutral lumbar spine position.

Exercise #3: Turnout Stabilization

NOTE: This exercise promotes proper use of your glutes and external hip rotation to control turnout, which takes pressure off your knees.

1. Begin standing with feet hip-width apart. Soften the backs of your knees so your quads are relaxed and you're not hyperextended. Find a neutral position for your lumbar spine by tucking your pelvis under, then arching your back—the midpoint between the two is where you should be. Place your left hand on your chest and your right hand over your belly button.



A version of this story appeared in the April 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "The Bee's Knees."

Latest Posts


Boston Ballet principal Seo Hye Han as Cinderella in Sir Frederick Ashton's Cinderella (Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet)

5 Principal Dancers on the Ballet Steps That Still Challenge Them

Their technique might seem effortless onstage, but even the most seasoned ballet professionals have that one step that still drives them crazy. We asked five principal dancers to open up about the skills they still find challenging, and how they're working to finesse them.

Keep Reading
Hosts Trevor Tordjman and Ariel Martin in "Disney Fam Jam" (Disney Channel/Eric McCandless)

Behind the Scenes of the Dance-Filled "Disney Fam Jam"

The ever-dancy Disney Channel just dropped yet another dancetastic show. "Disney Fam Jam," a family dance competition inspired by choreographer Phil Wright's viral parent-and-kid dance classes, premiered last night. Each episode features two families battling it out on the dance floor to see who'll earn a $10,000 prize. And the show is co-hosted by Zombies 2 stars Ariel Martin and Trevor Tordjman—standout dancers in their own right.

Keep Reading
Raffaele Morra of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in The Dying Swan (Roberto Ricci, courtesy Les Ballets Trockadero)

Why More and More Men Are Dancing on Pointe

Like many professional dancers, New York City Ballet's Gilbert Bolden III is totally used to sharing pics and vids of his dancing on social media. But in the fall of 2018, the corps de ballet member hesitated before posting one particular clip. "I was extremely nervous the first time I posted a video of me dancing on pointe," he remembers. "It felt like a big step—almost like coming out. But not a single person was shady or unwelcoming!"

Once pretty much limited to women, pointe shoes are now being donned by more and more male-identifying dancers—for reasons as diverse as the dancers themselves. If you, too, are a pointe-curious guy, allow Bolden and other amazing male dancers to point(e) you in the right direction.

Keep Reading
contest
Enter the Cover Model Search