4 Back Exercises & Stretches for Dancers
Exercises to Gain a Strong Upper Body for Good Posture and Graceful Arms
Follow along with Dr. Nina Geromel, PT as she demonstrates 4 exercises and stretches for your upper and lower back.
These exercises will assist you with gaining tall, upright posture for long beautiful lines while dancing. Additionally, building strength and flexibility in your back will provide the support needed in your shoulders and arms to create graceful, flowing movements through your upper body. Increasing strength in your back will also improve movements like your Arabesque, where you are using several muscles in your back to support lifting and holding your leg in the air.
Exercise One: Superman Lat Pull Down with Resistance Band
This exercises targets muscles in both your lower and upper back. These muscles are used quite a bit in movements such as Combre and Arabesque, along with maintaining an upright posture.
This exercise starts by laying flat on the floor with a Resistance Band in your hands. You will then lift your head an shoulders off the floor to engage your lower back muscles. Then, you will squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull on the Resistance Band. Hold this position for approx. 5 seconds then return to the starting position and repeat for around 10 repetitions.
Note: When lifting your head and shoulders off the floor, the goal is not to “hinge” at your low back, but instead extend through your entire spine and engaging all your muscles throughout your entire spine.
Exercise Two: Bent Row with Resistance Band
This exercise is fantastic for building strength and support in your upper back.
The starting position for this exercise is a mini squat, with the Resistance Band looped under your feet. Key element to watch for when performing this exercise:
- Lower back should remain straight. Do not “round” or “hunch” your back when performing the row.
- Keep your elbows tight to the sides of your body. Be careful not to allow your elbow to fly outward like a chicken wing.
- You should feel your shoulder blades squeeze together and slightly downward when performing the exercise properly.
- The movement should be slow and controlled the entire time.
Exercise Three: Middle Back Stretch
This exercise will improve flexibility and range of motion through you back. This exercises utilizes a long foam roller to add additional extension to your rotation. An important note when performing this stretch is your body alignment. Be sure to double check your hips and knees to ensure they are vertically aligned and stacked nicely on one another. This will setup the rest of the movement nicely for the stretch in your back.
Scale back option: The rotational stretch added by the foam roller may be too much if you’re just starting our or feeling some tightness in your back. This same stretch movement may be performed on the floor without the foam roller when starting and working up to improve flexibility in your back.
Exercise Four: Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose is one of the most effective and popular stretches for your lower back. This yoga pose releases a lot of tension and tightness in your lower back. Hold this position for at least 15 seconds, but you may hold for longer if you like.
If you are feeling any pinching in your hips you can open your knees wider. This will reduce the pinching and allow room for a deeper stretch targeting your low back.
Child’s Pose Variation: Thread the Needle
This variation adds some rotational stretching to the classic Child’s Pose. This rotation stretch will further reduce tightness, stiffness, or soreness you may be experiencing in your low back. When performing this stretch it should feel relaxing. You do not want to “push” the stretch to the point of feeling any amount of pain.
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