The right tools can keep your body in peak shape. Photo courtesy Hugger Mugger

11 Expert-Approved Injury Prevention Tools for Dancers

Dancers will do just about anything to increase their odds of staying injury-free. And there are plenty of products out there claiming that they can help you do just that. But which actually work?

We asked for recommendations from four experts: Martt Lawrence, who teaches Pilates to dancers in San Francisco; Lisa-Marie Lewis, who teaches yoga at The Ailey Extension in New York City; physical therapist Alexis Sams, who treats dancers at her clinic in Phoenix; and stretch training coach Vicente Hernandez, who teaches at The School of Pennsylvania Ballet.


For Stronger Inner Thighs: Magic Circle

Gratz Industries' Magic Circle, $30, pilates-gratz.com

Lawrence says this tool is great for strengthening your inner thighs, which are often weak in dancers. It particularly helps with movements like quick footwork. She suggests practicing small tendus in every direction while squeezing the circle between your ankles.

To Unknot Your Muscles: A Small Spiky Ball

Body Back FootStar Acupressure Ball, $6.45, bodyback.com

"All those nice spiky edges can get into little trigger points," says Sams. She suggests rolling after class when you're already warm and your muscles are pliable.

For Smarter Stretching: A Yoga Block

Hugger Mugger's Cork Yoga Block, $19.95, huggermugger.com

Blocks aren't about what you can't do—they're about helping you get more out of a pose, says Lewis: "Don't let your ego get in the way of getting into the correct position."

To Recover Faster: KT Tape

KT Tape Cotton, $12.99, kttape.com

"The tape works by stimulating your sense of touch and calls attention to the injured area while dancing," explains Sams. Though not a long-term solution, it can help on the road to recovery.

For Healthier Feet: PerfectFit Inserts

PerfectFit Inserts Kit, $42, perfectfitpointe.com

Sams points out that pointe shoes have always been made to break down so that they mold to the dancer's foot, and these inserts continue that tradition to make the fit even more snug.

For Upper-Body Strength Training: Resistance Tubes

Merrithew's Strength Tubing, $18.99, merrithew.com

Both Hernandez and Sams recommend resistance tubes: They're more resilient than bands, and easily hook on a hand or ankle.

To Prevent Bunions: Toe Corrector

Prag Movement's Toe Corrector, $51, pilatesscandinavia.com

This tool strengthens the muscles near the big-toe joint and helps prevent bunions. Lawrence particularly recommends it for dancers just starting pointework.

To Become a Safer, Better Turner: A Spinboard

Superior Stretch's Spinboard, $21.59, superiorstretch.com

Hernandez says turning boards can help you practice proper alignment and feel the sensation of multiple revolutions.

To Roll Out Your Feet: Yamuna Foot Wakers

Yamuna Foot Wakers Kit, $65.95, yamunausa.com

In addition to teaching yoga, Lewis performs in The Lion King on Broadway, and warms up her feet with these before every show. "It's like a foot roller, but you can spend more time in each spot," she says.

To Build Better Balance: A Balance Board

Fitterfirst's Classic Balance Board, $44.95, fitter1.com

Sams suggests testing yourself on a balance board in simple, single-leg positions like parallel passé.

The Number One Essential: A Safe Floor

Glorya Kaufman School of Dance at USC featuring a Harlequin WoodSpring® basketweave system, photo by Ema Peter

The most essential tool for keeping dancers' bodies healthy is arguably a sprung floor. "The shock absorption helps minimize compressive forces that go through your joints when landing from jumps," explains Sams.

When you're dancing on a floor that doesn't have any give, your ankles, knees, hips and back end up taking the brunt of the impact, which can open the door to injuries. "Even after taking one class on a concrete floor, dancers will come home with sore muscles and achy joints," says Sams.

For expert-approved flooring options, check out Harlequin Floors, Stagestep or Entertainment Flooring Systems.

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TaraMarie Perri in tree pose at Storm King Art Center. Photo by Sophie Kuller, Courtesy Perri

5 Self-Soothing Exercises You Can Do to Calm Your Anxiety

Physical stillness can be one of the hardest things to master in dance. But stillness in the bigger sense—like when your career and life are on hold—goes against every dancers' natural instincts.

"Dancers are less comfortable with stillness and change than most," says TaraMarie Perri, founder and director of Perri Institute for Mind and Body and Mind Body Dancer. "Through daily discipline, we are trained to move through space and are attracted to forward momentum. Simply put, dancers are far more comfortable when they have a sense of control over the movements and when life is 'in action.' "

To regain that sense of control, and soothe some of the anxiety most of us are feeling right now, it helps to do what we know best: Get back into our bodies. Certain movements and shapes can help ground us, calm our nervous system and bring us into the present.

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