Jim Lafferty

Got Tight Hips? 5 Exercises to Find Relief

When a muscle is tight, most dancers' natural response is to stretch it. But when it comes to your hip flexors, stretching won't provide a long-term cure, and it could even make the problem worse if the muscle is inflamed.

Often, a more effective fix is building strength in the stabilizing muscles. As a Pilates instructor who specializes in working with dancers, here are five of my favorite exercises to relieve hip tightness—and increase mobility.


Toe Taps on a Foam Roller

1. Lie on a foam roller in the center of your head and spine. Start with your legs in tabletop position, your pelvis neutral and your fingertips resting on the floor.

2. Keeping your torso still and abdominals flat, lower one leg toward the floor. Go only as far as torso position can be maintained.

3. Return to tabletop, then repeat with opposite leg. Aim for 6–8 taps on each leg, alternating each time.

Single Leg Extension

1. Lie face down with your fingertips resting on your forehead. Your leg are turned out, but can be together or hip distance apart.

2. Maintaining a stable pelvis, reach one leg long and off the mat. Be careful to only extend the leg as far as a neutral pelvis can be maintained. Your low back should remain relaxed.

3. Return to start, then repeat with opposite leg. Aim for 6–8 reps with each leg, alternating each time.

Shoulder Bridge Prep

1. Stabilize your pelvis and spine in a neutral position, then extend your hips to lift the pelvis off the mat, creating a diagonal line from shoulders to knees. Be careful to not extend the spine.

2. Lift one foot off mat, making sure that there is no dropping or movement of the pelvis.

3. Return to start, then repeat with opposite leg. Aim for 3–6 reps with each leg, alternating each time.

Heel Squeeze Prone

1. Lie on your stomach with spine and pelvis in neutral, fingertips resting on forehead. With your knees slightly wider than hip-distance, bend them at a 90-degree angle.

2. Squeeze heels together and lightly lift your thighs off the mat as far as a neutral pelvis and spine can be maintained.

3. Hold for a second, then return to starting position and repeat for 8–10 repetitions.

Clam

1. Lie on your side with spine and pelvis in neutral, knees bent and together and your bottom heel lifted slightly.

2. Keeping your pelvis neutral and your heels together, lift the top knee.

3. Hold for a second, then return to start. Aim for 8–10 repetitions.

4. Repeat on opposite side.

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Courtesy Ava Noble

Go Behind the Scenes of USC Kaufman’s Virtual Dance Festival

Now more than ever, the students of USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance are embodying their program's vision: "The New Movement."

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, the dance world continues to be faced with unprecedented challenges, but USC Kaufman's faculty and BFA students haven't shied away from them. While many schools have had to cancel events or scale them back to live-from-my-living-room streams, USC Kaufman has embraced the situation and taken on impressive endeavors, like expanding its online recruitment efforts.

November 1 to 13, USC Kaufman will present A/Part To/Gather, a virtual festival featuring world premieres from esteemed faculty and guest choreographers, student dance films and much more. All semester long, they've rehearsed via Zoom from their respective student apartments or hometowns. And they haven't solely been dancing. "You have a rehearsal process, and then a filming process, and a production process of putting it together," says assistant professor of practice Jennifer McQuiston Lott of the prerecorded and professionally edited festival.

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