Photo by Quinn Wharton

Exercises to Help You Dance Through a Growth Spurt

If your sense of gravity and balance seem "off" during dance class—and all your pants are suddenly too short—there's a good chance you're going through a growth spurt. It can be frustrating, especially as a dance student, for your own body to feel unfamiliar. But growth spurts also present opportunities to strengthen your changing muscles, prevent injuries in the long term, and move more mindfully. We asked Kristen Kurie, PT, DPT, of NYC's Westside Dance Physical Therapy, to share exercises that'll help you dance through it all.


All photography by Quinn Wharton. Hair and makeup by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc. Modeled by Haley Connington.

Exercise 1: Foot Loading

During a growth spurt, your long bones grow faster than your tendons and muscles, which leaves your body more susceptible to injuries such as tendinitis. This exercise focuses on calf muscle control for speed work, like jumping, and landing with a neutral ankle to prevent ankle sprains.

Photo by Quinn Wharton

Part 1

1. Stand with your feet slightly apart in parallel.

Photo by Quinn Wharton

Part 2

1. Start with your feet slightly apart in parallel, and again lunge forward on the right foot.

Exercise 2: Standing Straight-Spine Squats

The upper leg is particularly susceptible to injury during growth spurts because of increased muscle tension in the hamstrings and quads, and those muscles' connections to the always-vulnerable hips and knees. This exercise counteracts that stress by stabilizing muscles of the upper leg.

Photo by Quinn Wharton

1. Stand with your feet slightly apart in parallel. Lift the right foot behind you in parallel coupé.

Exercise 3: Lumbar Stability in Arabesque

While your spine is growing, it's especially important to have strong back muscles to control and stabilize your upper body. These exercises focus on the muscles surrounding the lower back or lumbar spine, which are also critical in arabesque.

Photo by Quinn Wharton

Part 1

1. Lie on your stomach with your hands under your forehead and your legs extended. Make sure your spine is in a neutral position and your abdominal muscles are engaged.

Photo by Quinn Wharton

Part 2

1. Start in a tabletop "crawling" position. Make sure your hips are aligned with your knees, and that you're not sinking into your shoulders.

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