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In January, after over two decades, I returned to the barre and enrolled in the teen/adult ballet class at a local dance studio. I love ballet: the fluid lines, the gracefulness, the part about becoming one with the music.
But I did have one question: would ballet and running be incompatible?
The answer is no. A quick Google search (and common sense – because stretching and strengthening are key to preventing injury) showed me that ballet and running are actually great complements for each other.
Dancers Who Run
Fabrice Calmels, a dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, is a runner. He took up running seriously to train for playing Othello, and he found that running helped him with the hours of training he’d do for the role. And he found that running helps him recover from dancing faster. His trick is making sure he stretches after running to keep his flexibility.
Pointe Magazine actually advocates running for dancers. Running is actually gentler on the joints than dancing, and the aerobic activity builds stamina for performances. And, of course, the article recommends stretching after a run – and getting properly fitted for shoes, much like when dancers are fitted for pointe shoes.
“The sustained effort makes your lungs and heart more efficient, increasing your stamina—and since a whopping 90 percent of dance injuries result from fatigue, that isn’t a perk to take lightly.”
Athletes Who Dance
The barre fitness method and its popularity says a lot about athletes and ballet. Ballet-inspired exercises are being incorporated into athletes’ training, from swimming to soccer. NHL goalie Ray Emery used ballet class to rehab from what could have been a career-ending injury.
And I’m not the only blogger who believes that ballet can help running. Kowsik at freeradical.me, a male runner, wrote a fantastic post about three years ago explaining the correlation between incorporating ballet and preventing running injuries. He even provided three exercises that can be done to strengthen your legs and feet.
It’s a long way of saying something simple: ballet is good for runners (and vice versa). If you’re looking to become a professional dancer, it might not be the greatest idea to also run marathons regularly (according to my ballet teacher), but it you’re looking for flexibility, strength, and balance, a ballet class may be right for you.