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Ballet Stretches for Inner Thighs

In the quest for ballerina legs, ballet classes and barre-inspired fitness routines are notorious for working out your inner thighs. Virtually all ballet exercises are performed in turned-out positions, which targets muscles of the inner thighs you may never use otherwise. Stretches targeting this muscle group combat bulky muscles. Take it from former New York City Ballet dancer Mary Helen Bowers, creator of the Ballet Beautiful exercise workout. Stretching is extremely important in creating the lean physique of a ballerina, according to “Marie Claire” magazine.

Basic Plié Stretches

Ballet classes always start with a series of exercises at the barre designed to warm up your body and give you a nice stretch. Grand pliés in particular will gently stretch your inner thighs. The basic grand plié is performed with the feet turned out in a “V” position, known as the ballet first position. Slowly bend your knees as you bring your seat down toward the floor. Pass through the halfway point — called a demi-plié — and bend your knees all the way down until you lower your seat a few inches above your heels. Your heels will naturally come off the floor during deepest parts of the grand plié. Finish the stretch by slowly rising back up to first position where you started. Grand pliés are also performed in the ballet second position. Performed with feet positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, your heels do not come off the floor in the deep knee bend. You can also do a grand plié in the ballet fifth position, with one turned-out leg stacked behind the other. The movement is the same as a grand plié in first position, but will offer a slightly different inner-thigh stretch.

Active Stretches

Ballet teachers caution against simply sliding down into the splits before your muscles are properly warmed up, according to “DanceTeacher” magazine. To avoid injury, start with active stretches, in which you use your body to stretch your inner thighs. For an inner thigh warmup and active stretch, swing one leg forward and backward in a ballet attitude position. You can also perform lunges to the side to stretch out your inner thighs. Standing with feet parallel and together, slide one leg to the side slightly more than shoulder-width distance away and plié onto it, bending the leg. You’ll stretch the inner thigh of the standing straight leg, the magazine recommends.

Frog and Butterfly Stretches

A staple for after ballet class and to keep inner-thigh muscles flexible between rehearsals is the frog stretch. Lie on your stomach with your legs turned out and knees bent in a diamond shape. Bring your feet together and point your toes, maintaining your turnout from the hips. Gently and slowly press your feet toward the floor to give your inner thighs a stretch. Modify this stretch by lying parallel to a wall on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor, “Dance Magazine” recommends. Stretch the leg closest to the wall in the half-diamond shape, by gently pressing the knee outward toward the wall. You can also perform another diamond-shape stretch for the inner thighs seated on the floor. In what is called the butterfly, your legs will make the diamond shape as you bend them and place your feet together. Gently grasp your ankles and press your knees toward the floor.

Straddle Stretches

Many variations of straddle stretches will stretch your inner thighs. Perform these stretches when your muscles are warm to avoid muscle tears and other injuries. You can sit in the basic straddle with your legs out to each side, or you can sit with one leg stretched to the side and the other bent in to meet it. Bend your body and stretch your arms to the front or sides to perform the stretch. You can also stretch one leg to the front and bend the other to the back or stretch one leg to the back and bend the front leg. Bend forward or backward, reaching over the stretched leg. Straddle stretches are also performed at the ballet barre at the end of the barre exercise sequence when muscles are warm. Stand in first position turned-out and facing diagonally to the barre. Lift and place the outside leg on the barre, maintaining the turnout. Stretch toward the leg for an inner-thigh stretch. To deepen the inner-thigh stretch, bend the leg on the barre, keeping it turned out. Gently press the knee downward and stretch over your leg, reaching forward.

About the Author

Mikel Chavers has been writing and editing since 2006, specializing in health, business, government and technology topics. She got her start as a reporter at “The Business Journal” in Greensboro, N.C., and later covered state government for a national magazine. Chavers holds a Bachelor of Arts in media studies/journalism.

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