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
Kathryn Morgan, photographed by Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine

Watch Ballerina Kathryn Morgan on the "TODAY" Show

Since making her triumphant return to the stage this season, Kathryn Morgan has been on a mission to share her story and inspire others. The Miami City Ballet soloist—and advice columnist for Dance Spirit—was profiled on NBC's "TODAY" show this morning, reaching her largest audience yet.

Keep Reading

Intern at Dance Spirit This Summer!

Are you a college student curious about what goes on behind the scenes at your favorite magazine? You're in luck—because Dance Spirit is searching for an editorial intern for summer 2020!

We'll be accepting applications through March 1. Internships pay an hourly stipend and require a minimum two-day-a-week, onsite commitment in our NYC office from June to August. (We do not provide assistance securing housing.)

If you're interested, please send a cover letter, resumé and two writing samples to Margaret Fuhrer at mfuhrer@dancemedia.com. Be sure to put "Summer Internship Application" in the subject line. All attachments must be formatted as PDFs.

We will interview selected candidates in March in person or by phone, and let candidates know by mid-April if they have been chosen. Please note that we do not accept high school students, or any students under 18, and that we give preference to college juniors and seniors.

We can't wait to meet you!

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search