As people get older, their flexibility can start to decline. Keeping your back strong and flexible is imperative to preventing back injuries that can be caused by normal, everyday activities such as lifting storage boxes or shovelling snow. Here are some great ballet barre workout exercises you can do multiple times a week or even daily that can keep your back strong and flexible.
1. Back Arches
Stand with your back to the barre with your feet in parallel about hip distance apart and rest your arms on the barre on either side of you. Holding firmly to the barre with both hands, rise up onto the balls of your feet and slowly pull your hips away from the barre without allowing your torso to collapse. Feel free to let your head look gently upward towards the sky. Hold that position for a few seconds before slowly revert back to the starting position. If your back feels tight try a smaller back bend or spacing your hands farther apart on the barre.
2. Portabras to the Front, Back, and Sides
In ballet, a portabra is a kind of stretch that can be very beneficial for flexibility. To start, put one hand on the barre and stand with your feet about hip distance apart in parallel. To the front, dive your torso down keeping your back flat until you can't go anymore and then curve your spine before coming back up with a straight back. For the side, stretch your outside arm up and over to the barre, keeping your top shoulder pointing up to the sky. For the back, lift your outside arm above your head and lift up before stretching back to look upwards at the sky. For added challenge and movement, you can do these in round, by starting forward and immediately moving so that you are in the side position and then moving to the back position without coming to center in between. You can also reverse this movement by starting with the back portabra. For best results, do these stretches daily to each position 5 times and then around both directions three times each on each side .
For this exercise, we are going to use the barre to support our legs. So, we will start by standing next to the barre like we did for the portabras and put our inside leg up on the barre. Do not worry if you have to drop your chest, a bit to get your leg up there. This is the flexibility we are working on. If this is too difficult, you can also consider using a chair for this exercise and work your way up to the barre. Now that you are in a position that is called an arabesque in ballet, we will portabra forward, leaving our leg up on the barre (or chair). After repeating the portabra 5 times, we will maintain our arabesque as we move our chest towards the floor by lifting our back leg off the barre. This position is called a ponche. Maintain that arabesque position as you come up as well. You should feel some tension in your lower back but not straining. If you are straining, lower your leg a bit in order to prevent injury. Ponche five times and then switch to the other side to repeat the portabras in arabesque and ponches.
Are you interested in more ballet barre workouts or getting a barre of your own? Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions, as we'd love to help in your selection.