dance athletes, physical therapy for dance athletes

9 Things Physical Therapists Want Dance Athletes to Know

As dance athletes the odds of us one day needing the help of a physical therapist are pretty good. 

But have you ever wondered if there were things that your physical therapist wished you knew before you arrived in their office?

We asked our friends at Mims Method Physical Therapy this question and they actually had quite a lot to say on the topic. So much so, in fact, that we thought it was worth giving you the skinny.  


9 Things Physical Therapists Wished Dance Athletes Knew


1. Pain Does Not Equal Gain

For dancers this might be a hard pill to swallow, but pain does not equal gain and more is not always better.

 I know, I know, we were taught to push through.

We were taught that “one more time” is never the truth.

And what’s more, we were trained to think that stopping because of pain or exhaustion would mean we would be left in the dust. 

But we’re here to tell you that pushing your body to the breaking point can actually lead to more time spent offstage due to injury. 

Chris Falciano, a DPT at Mims, put it this way:

“Pain does NOT equal gain! Many dancers are highly motivated, and they come in thinking that more is always better. It’s important to find a good balance between pushing yourself and allowing your body to properly recover.” 


Now, before you cancel your gym session, let me tell you that there are a few different types of recovery.

We talk a lot about taking recovery between workouts seriously; whether that’s an active recovery day or a complete rest day. But we don’t often talk about the importance of recovery breaks during your workout. 

Studies have shown that taking adequate rest time between sets can actually produce greater increases in strength than pushing through for shorter rest times. 

On top of that, giving your body that recovery time between sets also aides in preventing injuries that occur due to exhaustion. 

TLDR?  When your body hits max, listen to it.

2. Pain Isn’t Normal

Have you ever taken a Fosse class? If you have, you’ve likely heard the instructor say “If it kind of hurts or feels uncomfortable, you’re doing it right!”

And while this is true in the sense that holding your arms to do the “Fosse-Arms” while you walk is not the most comfortable or natural of positions, it does enforce the idea that pain in dance is somewhat normal.

In fact, a lot of what we do doesn’t feel great the first few times we do them– hello, pointe shoes!

But joint pain, shooting pain, and pain that is consistent and persistent is not actually normal. And, unfortunately, the belief that it is keeps dance athletes from visiting the PT!

“A lot of dancers write off their pain as “something that is normal” when we can actually reduce quite a bit of symptoms.” – Dr. Dan, DPT


That’s the thing about finding a physical therapist you can trust, their goal is to make what you do less painful so you can continue to flourish as dance athletes. 


3. Don’t Forget to Work on Your “Turn-In”

Dr. Dan also had this recommendation for dance athletes entering their physical therapy era: don’t be afraid to work on your internal rotation. It won’t ruin your turn out. 

Much like the rumor that lifting weights will decrease your flexibility, the idea that strengthening your internal hip rotation (ability to turn-in) will decrease your external hip rotation (turn-out) is false. 

Training the full range of motion in your hips will create balanced strength and range of motion in your hip joint which will help you transition through movement. It has also been shown to correlate with fewer injuries!

But what’s probably the best argument for training your hips in every direction is the fact that healthy, strong hips, support healthy strong knees. So, if you’re a dancer with cranky knees, starting training those hips!


4. Stop Popping Your Hips

“If you pop those hips one more time…” 

The PTs at Mims Method might work backstage at Chicago, but they would love it if they didn’t have to quote the show so often!

You know, what I’m talking about.  That sideways leaning hip-hike that feels so good when the “pop” from your hip rings out. 


I know this feels like a personal attack but…well, why don’t I let Dr. Kate Besong tell you why?

“Generally, popping your joints is likely not beneficial and may point to instability in that area. If it happens by accident while you’re moving, fine. But don’t force things to pop just to feel looser. Instead, focus on stability exercises and you’ll likely notice that your need to pop becomes less frequent.”


So give your PT a break from swinging on as Liz in cellblock tango and start working on your hip stability!



personal training for dancers



5. Stop Overstretching

Overstretching is something every dancer has done. Whether it’s literally sitting in an over-split or simply stretching for too long, our desire for soaring legs and impressive back bends can get dance athletes into trouble.

Contrary to how many dancers were trained, stretching should never reach the point of pain and, according to MIT, you should not be sore the day after a stretch session. If this happens, it’s time to decrease the intensity of your stretch sessions. 

And  those of you shaking your head right now saying, “But it feels good to stretch that deep!” Dr. Chris has a suggestion: 

“We know your muscles feel tight sometimes, and getting into a deep stretch feels really nice. However, that doesn’t get to the root of the problem. In most of the cases I see, building strength and stability is a better long-term fix than stretching your hammys out for the 10th time today.”


6. Stretching is NOT a Warm-Up!

You’ve heard me say it before, but stretching is not a warm-up and these PTs all agree. 

Active stretching can, and should, be a part of your warm-up. But it shouldn’t be the only aspect of your warm-up. 

Instead, try a mobility flow followed by exercises sure to get your muscles activated. Not sure what this might look like? 

Check out this follow-along warm-up we wrote specifically for auditions and performances! And feel free to add in your favorite stretch or exercise to lock yourself into the zone.


7. Don’t be Scared (We’re Here to Help!)

When asked what these Broadway PTs wished most that dance athletes knew, Founder of Mims Method PT, Brittney said this:

“Don’t be scared to see a PT! We aren’t here to tell you to stop doing what you love to do. We’re here to help you do it safely and help your career (or hobby) have longevity!”


We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to listen to your body. Seeing a PT does not mean that you’ll be out of the show. It might not even mean that you’re injured. 

Seeing a PT simply means that you are willing to work to keep your instrument in tip-top shape for performance! 

There’s a reason these PTs work backstage at shows. It’s to keep these dance athletes as pain free as possible and onstage, 8 shows a week!


8. “Prehab” is Just as Important as Rehab

Similarly, physical therapy is not only useful for rehab!

Brittney likes to encourage dancers to participate in what she calls “prehab!”

“PTs aren’t just for when you feel pain or when you’re already injured. At Mims Method PT, we do sooo much “prehab” or “preventative rehab”! We want to help dancers and performers before they get injured. We offer injury prevention workshops for dance companies and theaters and we offer individualized dancer screens in order to give dancers specific programming to help their muscle weakness, imbalances, etc. We see many patients for monthly maintenance visits to address any new choreography or mild aches they may have, or simply to update their warm up or exercise routine.”


If one-on-one personal training exists to fine tune your nutrition and exercise approach, physical therapy exists to fine tune the way dance athletes practice recovery and warm-ups. 

Just like a soloist with a featured tilt will warm-up differently than the soloist with a featured jump, a dancer who struggles with ankle impingement should warm-up and cool down differently than a dancer with a hyper-mobile spine.

Physical therapy exists to pin-point and support those individual needs. 


9. PT isn’t The Only Puzzle Piece You’re Missing

Just like weightlifting isn’t the only aspect of your cross-training, physical therapy should not be the only aspect of your recovery process. 

“There are sooo many variables that can affect the way you feel: nutrition, hydration, sleep, stress, training intensity, cross-training intensity, etc! You can have the perfect routine of PT exercises, but if you’re not sleeping well (quality AND quantity) then your body will have a harder time recovering.” — Kate Besong, DPT


If you’re experiencing injury use this time to zero in on your self-care. 

No, I don’t mean bubble baths and face masks. 

I’m talking about ensuring you’re drinking enough water.

Creating a nighttime routine that supports your goal to get enough sleep.

Looking at your training schedule and deciding if you might need to pull back in certain areas to support your recovery. 

This is the kind of self-care that will support your physical therapy journey and get you back on stage faster than ever. 

Whether you’re experiencing an injury or not, physical therapy can be a huge asset to your career as a dancer. 

Go into your next appointment with your head held high ready to support your therapy with these tips and you just might become your therapists favorite client. 

That is, if you weren’t already!


Want more tips from PTs who just get dancers? 

Follow along on the blog all spring for more interviews with Broadway’s Physical Therapists. 

Missed the last post? Give it a read, here.

We’re dropping exclusive emails with physical therapy exercises from a different member of the Mims Method team each week!

You won’t want to miss this series! Opt-in for these exclusive exercises here!



Want more tips about fitness, PT, nutrition and more? Check out these quick reads on the blog: Training Tip Tuesday: Confidence Corner, the Gymitmidation Secret, Life After Macros: The Principles of Intuitive Eating, Explained, Keeping Things Cool: The Benefits of Deliberate Cold Exposure for Dancers

Common dance injuries of the foot and ankle

Putting Your Best Foot Forward?: A Deep Dive Into Common Dance Injuries in the Foot and Ankle

If you’re a dancer, odds are you’re well aware of the many common dance injuries that may befall you during your career. 

Maybe you experienced them first hand or maybe you witnessed a peer struggle through recovery from one. 

Either way, you know about them because….well, because common dance injuries are exactly that, common. 

There is a a long standing stigma in the dance world about injuries that seems to imply fault, weakness, or replaceability if you sustain an injury. 

But most common dance injuries arise due to overuse and overtraining. In an industry that applauds “toughness” and a “push-through-it” mentality, it seems downright silly that injuries would be viewed this way.

Nevertheless, they are. 

My friend once performed so long and so hard that she bled through her pointe shoes. There was actual blood stainds seeping through her toe box. When she finished everyone cheered, remarking how strong she was to finish the number despite her pain!

When my other friend sprained her ankle by landing a jump incorrectly in petite allegro, we were given a lecture on the importance of good technique, attention to detail, and ankle strengthening exercises. As if this injury was the fault of the dancer rather than a result of exhaustion from a 6 hour rehearsal day after a 5 class week. 

The point is, we are here to de-stigmatize common dance injuries and offer some insight into the prevention and treatment of each. However, seeing a trusted physical therapist is recommended for aide in diagnosis and recovery from any common dance injury. 


Plantar Fasciitis:

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common dance injuries. Planter Fasciitis is an overuse injury that causes intense pain in the heel. 

We have talked a lot about plantar fasciits recently because it plagues so many dancers that Dance Magazine wrote about it and Coach Amber was featured giving advice for P.F. sufferers!

The main way to prevent plantar fasciitis is to practice regular foot stretches, strengthening exercises, and rolling out/massaging the feet. Some of the best preventative exercises are also the treatment for plantar fasciitis! You can check them out here: 9 Need to Know Plantar Fasciitis Exercises for Dancers

If you are currently suffering from plantar fasciitis there are a number of things you should avoid doing to prevent your injury from worsening. 

Avoid wearing high heels, yes, even in class. I promise, your instructors and choreographers will gladly let you take a heels break for a week or two if it means getting you back in them long term!

Another important thing is to not push through the pain. I know as dancers there’s this mindset that, if we sit out someone will replace us. But that’s not always true. And even if it is, pushing through pain and causing your injury to worsen is not worth this one class, audition, or gig. 

Don’t limit your future because you’re afraid of losing what you have now.


Achilles Tendonitis:

Achilles tendonitis is another common dance injury caused by overuse! This overuse injury affects the achilles tendon which attaches your calf muscle to your heel. 

This is most often caused by overtraining during a focused amount of time. This can look like returning to dance after a long rest period, tight or inflexible caves, or dancing on a non-sprung floor. 

Usually you can identify achilles tendonitis from other common dance injuries by a tenderness in the morning about half an inch above the heel bone, stiffness that fades after warm up, or mild-moderate pain after dancing. 

If left unchecked achilles tendonitis can worsen and eventually lead to an achilles rupture. 

So, the sooner you can start an at home regimen to relieve you of your A.T. pain, the better. 

If your tendonitis has progressed to the point that you don’t have any pain free activities, rest and ice the tendon/lower calf immediately. 

Active stretching of the achilles tendon should be integrated into your routine, but be careful! Don’t stretch your achilles beyond the point of comfort as this can make the tendonitis worse. Keep the stretch within the 2-3 range on the pain/discomfort scale. 


Stress Fractures:

The human foot is comprised of 33 joints and 26 bones. These joints and bones work together to not only move your foot but help your feet and ankles absorb impact from jumps and leaps!

If the intrinsic muscles in between those joints and bones are overworked or not strong enough, the repetitive force of jumping can cause stress fractures. 

Stress fracture pain might start out mildly and increase in pain as time goes on. You might also see some swelling around the area, even if rest brings relief from the pain.

See a doctor if you suspect a stress fracture because if a fracture heals improperly it can cause more permanent problems. 

Otherwise, eating a well balanced, nutrient dense diet is one of the best ways to prevent a stress fracture. Not sure what that looks like? Give this article a read. 

Also, pairing your high impact sport (dance) with low impact cross-training like weightlifting or reformer pilates reduces your risk of stress fractures. 



Free 5 Day Turn Course dance workout




Many people think that bunions are among the common dance injuries because of pointe shoes. But in actuality, bunions in dancers are often a result of turning out farther than your muscles can maintain. 

Turning out too far causes your knee to roll inward, rather than staying in alignment with your ankle. Such a position causes the foot to over-pronate (roll in) putting pressure on that toe joint. 

To prevent bunions, make sure you are only working within the turnout you can maintain. I promise, your turnout will improve over time. Cheating will only cause problems, and bunions only cause pain. 

Treatment for bunions are orthotics, nighttime splints, and physical therapy exercises. But, if bunions go too far without attention, they can require surgery!


Ankle Sprains:

Ankle accidents constitute 20 to 25% of all accidents sustained by dancers.

And that makes sense because spraining your ankle as a dancer *almost* seems like a right of passage. Lack of focus, loss of balance, and working too closely to the limits of your strength are the major causes of sprained ankles. 

Knowing dancers, I would be willing to bet that most ankle sprains are not because dancers are being careless, but rather because they are pushing themselves a bit farther than they are ready to go. 

Now, I’m not telling you not to take big swings. But I am telling you to pay close attention to your body when learning new skills or running choreo over and over again. 

If you’re starting to feel dangerously fatigued, maybe mark the jumps. 


If marking is not an option, dial in your focus. When we are fatigued it’s very easy to cut corners mentally and physically, this is when injury occurs. 

If you are too tired to focus, you are too tired to do the trick. Period. 


Ankle Impingement: 

Posterior ankle impingement is a pain that occurs in the heel and achilles tendon. This pain is most acutely felt when on rélévé or pointing your foot. It occurs when boney build-up on the heel bone (formed from thousands of hours in this position) compresses the soft tissue in the back of the ankle. 

Anterior ankle impingement occurs where the shinbone meets the ankle (talus). Years of pliés, jump landings, and more cause a similar boney build-up in the front of the ankle causing compression in the tissues there. 

Both of these issues can cause swelling as well as pain. 

Anti-inflammatory medications and ice can help relieve the inflammation. In extreme cases podiatrists may recommend surgery- though physical therapy and anti-inflammatory regimens can usually prevent this!


Moral of the Story?

If you’re a dancer, having a physical therapist or doctor who understands what you do and how you move is vital.  (For more information about how to choose a PT, be sure to tune into the blog next month!) 

Knowing that the amount of hours we spend training can lead to overuse injuries is also important. According to this study, injury prevention tactics should start much younger in dancers than it does currently. 

That way, we are not only protecting the next generation of dancers from injury, but we’re teaching them how to care for their bodies well. 

Injury prevention exercises often don’t take a lot of work, but can have massive benefits for the lives of dancers. 

And don’t worry, even if you didn’t start young, you aren’t disqualified from starting today!

If you’re thinking, “I don’t know how to cross-train” or “I don’t know what fueling my body as a professional dancer looks like.” 

We’ve got you covered. From Body Mechanics to The Embodied Artist, the free resources on social media, our email newsletter, and this blog, chances are we can help you. 


So, want to reach out? Shoot us an email at, or DM us @dancerswholift on instagram. We’d love to help you in your injury prevention journey!



Want more info from Dancers Who Lift? Give these blogs a read:  Dancers Who Lift: More Than Just Resistance Training for Dancers, Injury Recovery 101: The Do’s and Don’ts for Getting Back on the Stage Faster, The Stair Down: An Adjustable Stair Workout

finding a physical therapist, physical therapy for dancers, dance physical therapist

Finding a Physical Therapist: Advice for Dancers From Broadway’s PTs

Finding a physical therapist that understands the unique needs of dancers can be quite the journey. 

Not only does your physical therapist need to understand the unique demands you place on your body. But your physical therapist needs to understand the unique demands placed on you.

As dancers, we are often expected to deal with injuries swiftly and completely. 

Finding a physical therapist that understands your need to heal well, while also understanding that you may need to return to the stage (or rehearsal) sooner rather than later is invaluable. 


In fact, studies have shown that dancers whose injuries are diagnosed by physicians are more likely to miss class than those diagnosed by PTs. 

And, no it’s not because doctor’s know something that physical therapists don’t. Quite the contrary. 

Physical therapists who work with dancers understand the psychosocial element of injuries for dancers. Their goal is to help dancers lose as little time as possible, while keeping them safely progressing in their recovery journey. 


We know that finding a physical therapist like this can be a challenge. So we decided to go straight to the source: Physical Therapists. 

That’s right, we interviewed four physical therapists from Broadway’s Mims Method Physical Therapy in NYC. 

These PTs work to keep Broadway’s performers injury, and pain free 8 shows a week. They even work backstage at the theatres at shows like “How to Dance in Ohio,” “Back to the Future,” and “Chicago” – just to name a few!

Today they’re giving their best advice for finding a physical therapist as a dance athlete. 


Let’s dive in. 


During the process of finding a physical therapist, are there any red flags dancers should be aware of?

The vast number of PTs out there, is one of the biggest challenges of finding a physical therapist you can trust. 

The most resounding piece of advice the Mims Method team had for dancers was to find a physical therapist that wasn’t seeing multiple patients during one session – otherwise known as one-on-one care. 


This is for a couple of reasons: 

“Once you’re in the room with your PT, you should feel listened to and that your PT understands the goals you’re trying to reach.” – Mims Method Founder, Brittney Mims

Being listened to and understood is only the first benefit to one-on-one care. 

Chris Falciano, one of the DPTs at Mims put it this way, 

“I’d suggest making sure that your clinician isn’t juggling multiple patients at a time. For high-quality rehab, you want someone who is paying attention and focusing specifically on you and how you move.”


When your physical therapist is able to put 100% of their focus on you for your entire session, they have the ability to fine tune and tailor your training as they watch you move. 

On top of that, you have access to ask them whatever questions you may have – which leads us to Kate Besong’s advice for dancers finding a physical therapist:  

“It is totally appropriate for your PT to heavily focus on “non-dance” movements. [But] Even if they are not “fluent” in the language of whatever style(s) of dance you train in, your PT should always be able to connect what you’re doing to your functional needs as a dancer. You should always be able to ask questions like “why am I doing this?” or “how will this help me?” and the PT should be able to give you a logical answer that’s fairly easy to follow.”


If you’re PT isn’t able to tell you the why behind your training, that’s signal to take a closer look. 

Just like your training at Dancers Who Lift, your physical therapy might not look like dance at all. But, just like your trainers at DWL, your physical therapist should be able to explain how this movement will help you recover from your injury, and help you as you dance.


Dan Ginader, well known for his TikTok, @Dr. Dan_D.P.T., mentions that finding a physical therapist who works with athletes is key. 

“You should be wary of any PT that does not have a “sports focus”. You don’t necessarily need to see someone who works with dancers on a regular basis, but you definitely want a PT that works with athletes.”


Because dancers are athletes, and the sooner we start training and treating ourselves as such, the stronger and more resilient we will become. 


What are questions we should ask to determine if our PT is a good fit for us as dancer athletes?

Part of finding a physical therapist you can trust is knowing what kind of questions to ask. 

These questions tend to fall into three categories: Session expectations, Injury specific, and Personal. 


Session Expectations

How long will my sessions be? 

Will you be seeing other patients at the same time?

How much time will I spend with my therapist at each session? 

Will I be working with a trainer or aide for the other portion of treatment?

What does a typical session look like at this facility? 

As for this last question, the trainers at Mims recommend physical therapy sessions that combine manual therapy and strength training. 


Injury Specific

What is my therapist’s experience with _____?  Fill in with specific injury, age, hyper-mobility, style of movement/dance/etc

Are you familiar with EDS and/or hyper-mobility?

How do you communicate with a team (Doctors, coaches, instructors) to ensure a coordinated approach to my recovery?

(This last one is especially important if your injury requires surgery, worker’s comp, etc.!)


Personal (Person Specific)

Do you work with a lot of athletes or active people?

Have you worked with athletes who perform at a competitive level before?

Are you familiar with my style(s) of dance training/performance?


Now, none of these questions are necessary deal breakers.

For example, just because your physical therapist works with mostly ballet dancers, doesn’t mean they’re incapable of helping you, a modern/contemporary dancer who specializes in floor-work.

It does mean that you’ll need to advocate for your needs clearly as you progress in your recovery.

 For example,

“I feel stronger doing ___ but when I do floor-work I’m noticing __. Can we take a look at that?”


A good physical therapist loves feedback. 

They’ll want to know how you felt in your classes earlier this week. They’ll ask questions and have you show them things. 

The more information the better, because their goal is to get you back to your normal – or better! 



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What’s your best advice to a dancer dealing with an injury?

While each and every physical therapist we spoke to hoped we’d come visit them at Mims Method in NYC, they know that there are tons of great PTs out there. (And that not everyone lives in NYC)

So, for any dancer in the process of finding a physical therapist, or even already working with one, remember these tips from Brittney Mims:

  • Strength Training is your friend. You will only become a better dancer the stronger you are. (No, we did not pay her to say this!!) 
  • “RICE” is outdated- throw the ice away and do a little dive into “PEACE & LOVE” instead 
  • Optimism is shown in research studies to improve speed and quality of healing, so don’t spiral! You’ve got this and you’ll be okay!

finding a physical therapist

And finally, let this final tip from Chris soak in: 

“Be patient. Give yourself a lot of grace and keep your mindset in a positive place.”

It’s so easy to spiral as injured dancers. Not only are our jobs often on the line when we are injured, but we become separated from our community. 

This separation can be surprisingly painful, even if it’s just for a short while. Let yourself feel it, but don’t lose hope!

With a good PT on your side, you’ll be dancing again in no time. 


Be Patient

Much like healing from an injury, finding a physical therapist you click with can take time. But with grace and patience you’ll get to where you’re going. 

It took me years to find a physical therapist I loved. 

But you know how I did it? I asked for help. 

If you’re part of the Dancers Who Lift community and you’re in the process of finding a physical therapist, ask the Facebook group or chat thread for recommendations in your area. 

When you’re at auditions, ask your friends who they see. Ask your trainer if they have someone they recommend. 

And If you’re in NYC, definitely go check out the team at Mims Method here!


Just remember, what works for someone else might not work for you, and that’s okay.

As long as you’re working with someone who understands your goals, understands your injury, and is ready to give their full focus to your care, you’re in good shape. 


Want more tips from Physical Therapists?

Tune in every other week this spring for tips from these dance physical therapy experts. 

You’ll hear about common dance injuries and how to avoid them. 

We’re talking all the things your PT wishes you knew. 

We’re even dropping exclusive emails with physical therapy exercises from a different member of the Mims Method team each week!

You won’t want to miss this series! Opt-in for these exclusive exercises here! 


listening to your body, what your body wants you to know

What Your Body Wants You to Know: The Do’s and Don’ts of Listening to Your Body

Do you ever wonder what your body wants you to know? Like, if it could speak to you what would it say? What if I told you your body is speaking to you all day every day, we just have to learn to listen?

We all had that one modern or contemporary dance teacher who touted the importance of listening to your body. 

You know, the one who was very grounded and spiritual, but also would torture you weekly by weaponizing deep pliés and silent screams? 

The one whose instruction to eat a large, hot, meal after class and soak in a an epsom bath you ignored, and suffered from D.O.M.S. the next day as a result. 

Well, it turns out, that dance teacher knew something that maybe you didn’t. 

They  knew how to listen to their body. They knew what your body wants you to know 

That’s why they recommended a full meal. That’s why they recommended the bath.  Those are techniques they used to quell the cues of muscle exhaustion their body was sending them. 

But here’s where our dance teachers steered us wrong. They told us the prescription, but they didn’t teach us how to diagnose. 

Learning how to listen to your body is immensely important. Not just as a dancer, but as a human being. 


Re-Learn What Listening to Your Body Means

When we are babies the only skillset we have is listening to our bodies and responding; it’s instinctual.  

You don’t have to teach a baby to identify when it’s hungry or full. It knows to ask (cry) for food and then stops when it’s had enough. 

Unfortunately, as we age, the pressures of fitting into the expectations of family, friends, or social culture can cause us to tune out certain cues from our bodies. Tuning out these cues consistently overtime makes it more challenging to listen to them. 

Listening to your body requires you to unlearn certain socially imposed expectations such as what productivity looks like, perfectionism, control, self-image, body-image, and the list goes on. 

But if we take a moment to ignore those pressures momentarily and check in with our bodies we can recognize that every signal our body is sending us means something. 

For example, I suffer from chronic headaches. For a long time I chalked it up to exhaustion, stress, or dehydration and would pop a Tylenol and go on with my day. However, when I started to get more curious about the why, I discovered something pretty incredible. 

Whenever I felt a headache coming on, I’d first stretch my neck and thoracic spine. If that didn’t work, I’d up my water intake. If hydrating myself didn’t work I’d think about what I’d eaten that day. 

Over the course of a few months, I realized that my worst headaches occurred on days in which my protein intake was low. These headaches were a way of my body telling me to eat! So simple! 

Once I started honoring that cue, my headaches decreased exponentially! 

That’s what your body wants you to know; that it has your best interest at heart.

Now, this is a pretty extreme example. But seeing how something like this changed my life inspired me to take a look at something that we all have experienced, stress. 



personal training for dancers



Balancing Stress and Listening to Your Body

Stress is one of the loudest ways our body speaks to us. But, unfortunately, culturally we are taught to push through. We do this in the name of productivity, performance, success, and more. 

And while we do need to push through fatigue or stress to get to our goals, regularly pushing past the cues our bodies give us to slow down can lead to physical, mental, and emotional problems.

Let’s talk about babies one more time. Have you ever been with a baby who is over-tired? 

It’s a challenging experience that leaves you wondering,

 “If they are so exhausted, why don’t they just fall asleep?”

The short answer? Stress. 

You see, when a baby isn’t getting enough sleep, their tiny bodies go into stress mode – dumping stress hormones like cortisol and adrenalin into their system. 

Have you ever tried to take a nap during an adrenaline rush? Yeah, not happening. 

Now, imagine how limited and exhausted you are when your body has been living in stress mode. 

Not good. 

That’s what your body wants you to know: “I’m exhausted to the point to stress.”


How do we listen to our bodies to prevent a stress or exhaustion overdose?

This is a fantastic question! I am so glad you asked!

The first thing you have to to do is learn to slow down and check in with your body throughout the day. 

Take two or three minutes to close your eyes and simply notice things. 

Start by taking a deep breath and do an emotional scan: “How am I feeling?”

Do you feel fatigued? Do you feel energized? Do you feel sad? Content? Numb?

Then take a scan of your body. Just sit quietly and notice things. 

What is your breath like? Do any specific aches and pains jump out at you? Are you hungry? Thirsty?

Finally, take a stock of what you feel like your body wants. 

Do you feel like you need to sit down? Are you in the mood to move? Do you feel like you’re one deep breath away from a nap?

Once you’ve checked in you have the power to decide what you need most. 

But I encourage you to practice listening to what your body is asking for. 

So much of being a dancer is focused on pushing through pain signals, hunger cues, and controlling your emotions. But that’s often when we see injuries, eating disorders, and mental struggles arise. 

But when you practice listening to your body for awhile, you might find that your performances are better, your workouts are progressing faster, and you feel more in line with yourself. 

And yes, that might mean that you skip a workout to foam roll, stretch, and take a mental health walk. It might mean that instead of staying home and isolating you call a friend and have dinner out. It might mean going to bed early instead of signing up on that audition list at 12:01 AM. 

But in the long run the choices that you make to honor your bodies needs will always pay off in dividends. 

Don’t believe me?


Give it a try for yourself. Find out what your body wants you to know.

We were born with all of the instincts to not only survive but to thrive as living beings. Stop silencing those instincts. 

Your body wants you to win. That’s what your body wants you to know.

Trust it.   

Did you like this blog? Check out: 7 Helpful Journal Prompts for Dancers, Are Foods Good And Bad? Building a Healthy Relationship with Food, Gym Myths and Misconceptions: The Dancer Editio

alternate forms of cardio

Get Your Heart Pumping: 6 Alternate Forms of Cardio That Are Perfect for Dancers


As a dancer you’re likely getting all the cardio you need in addition to your training schedule. But sometimes rehearsals and auditions are light or you want to mix it up. And let’s face it, dancing shouldn’t be our only form of cardio. That’s why it’s important to find alternate forms of cardio you enjoy!  

Now, dancers can be cardio junkies. We love the instant gratification of the post cardio exhaustion.  

You know what I mean, you just *feel* like you’ve worked HARD. And that feels good!

But we need to remember that as active dancers and humans, we need to balance how much stress we put our bodies under. 

So, this list of alternate forms of cardio is not meant to challenge you to do it all.

Rather, it’s meant to give you other options of cardio when dancing may not be at the forefront of your schedule.

Let’s dive in shall we? 



Okay, I know what you’re thinking. 

“I thought running was bad for dancers.”

Well, surprise surprise! Running is actually a great form of cardio for dancers. 

Running improves aerobic capacity and endurance, increases bone density which prevents injury, and it’s completely *free*. 

They key is to start slow and be intentional about your form. Ensure that you’re not just pushing off of your rear/mid-foot, and your knees are tracking over your middle toes. 

Now, if you’re thinking, “I hate running.” Never fear, we have many more alternate forms of cardio on the docket!



Rowing is, an excellent alternate form of cardio shown to significantly increase heart health. 

The best part about rowing is it not only gives you all the benefits of typical cardiovascular exercise, but it is a full-body workout with anaerobic benefits as well! 

Rowing is the perfect blend of strength training and cardio. Bonus? It’s a nice break for your joints too!


Shadow boxing: 

Did you know that shadow boxing is so effective at improving cardio health that it can be used to help people who suffer from pulmonary disease? Studies have shown that  shadowboxing can increase metabolic rate, decrease resting heart rate, and even build muscle!

It might seem silly at first, but let me tell you, punching the air is FUN! 

Get out your aggression and live out your Rocky Balboa dreams while also getting an excellent cardio blast. 



Studies have shown that getting around 7,000 steps per day lower the risk of death by 50-70% when compared to those who took fewer steps. They’ve also shown that people who walk often gain less weight over their lifetime!

Now, we know that weight is not the only marker of health. However, if walking can aid your body composition goals without adding additional stress to the body? Well, WAHOO! 

Unlike any of the other alternate forms of cardio listed here, walking is an excelled tool for stress management  and supporting mental health.

We love to see our dancers going on daily walks, getting their vitamin D, connecting with nature,  and clearing their minds. The cardiovasculare benefit? That’s just the cherry on top! 


Circuit training: 

Where are my HIIT junkies? 

Yes, circuit training is an excellent form of cardio! Like rowing there is often a strength training component in circuit training. 

While bodyweight circuits are an excellent and safe form of cardio and strength training, be careful if you start to add any resistance. Because you’re moving quickly, it’s important to make sure that your form is correct to prevent and injuries. 

Additionally, be intentional about making sure the exercises you’re doing in your circuit are varied in comparison to your weight lifting exercises.

Variety is the body’s best friend when it comes to a balanced workout regimen!

Stair Stepping:

Like walking this might sound boring at the jump. But be warned, stair stepping is NOT for the feint of heart. 

This study showed that, stair climbing is actually a suitable alternative to running! Showing just a 4% difference in aerobic capacity between runners and stair climbers. 

What’s more, stair climbing is a great way to strengthen your legs and glutes!

Which Will You Choose?

Any of these cardio workouts are an excellent supplement to your routine. 

And by no means are these the ONLY forms of cardio suitable for dancers. They just happen to be a few of our favorites!

So which one will you be trying today? Are you a classic runner, or will you be fighting your enemies while shadowboxing?

Let us know! Or even better, call a friend and invite them to try it with you!

No matter what, get out there a move your body. I promise you won’t regret it. 



Want more inspiration to move your body? Check out these blogs: Leaping For Joy: A Dancer’s Guide on How to Jump Higher, Six Steps to Perfect Push-ups!, Ready to Turn Heads?: Here’s How to Do a Pirouette


resistance training results, conditioning workouts for dancers

Hear From DWL’s Body Mechanics: Real Resistance Training Results from Dancers Just Like You

Resistance training for dancers has been a misunderstood topic for decades. And, finally, it seems that dancers are learning that resistance training results in more control, higher extensions, higher jumps, safer landings, and endless turns. 

Dancers Who Lift has been here for dancers since day one. But, like the industry, we’ve grown and evolved. The Body Mechanics program not only trains strong dancers, but empowers them with invaluable knowledge about their bodies. 

In previous blogs we talked about who Body Mechanics is for and what Body Mechanics entails.

But today we thought we’d let you hear it straight from the dancers’ mouths!


We know the Body Mechanics resistance training results speak for themselves, so we thought we’d let them!

So, without further ado, lets hear what they have to say.  


Amelia Foreman has been part of the Dancer’s Who Lift crew since 2019 and she says that DWL had a huge impact on her working professionally post COVID: 

“Thankfully, through the 2020 shut down, DWL was there with workouts to keep me strong through the lockdown. After that I danced in a ballet company for a year and did DWL workouts four days a week and it was the strongest I ever felt in my dancing. Now I am currently dancing with a modern dance company that does a lot of Pilobolus like non-traditional partnering. And I have finally gotten back in the gym more consistently.  Thankfully DWL has always been there to cheer me on, to keep me strong and feel great in my body!”


Claire Peoples loves how effortless it is to incorporate the program into her fitness routine:

“Being a professional dancer with another full time job, it can be very hard to figure out how to cross train! I had been taking a lot of group fitness classes at my gym but I didn’t feel like they were helping me. Those classes can help the average person with strength, but it doesn’t mean they will help a dancer’s technique! DWL has really helped me since I started a few months ago. I love how the workouts are laid out for me and I can follow the exercises on my fitness watch. Amber and the trainer’s technique videos also really help me to know that I am doing the exercises correctly.”



personal training for dancers,online personal training, resistance training for dancers



Out of all the resistance training results seen from Body Mechanics, feeling strong and secure in your dancing is one of our favorite . 

We attribute it to our highly specialized trainers who focus on the why behind the exercises they program. 

Jessica Townshend spoke to this a bit when we asked her about her resistance training results.

“I joined DWL because I’m a dancer (my main hobby and my self care release from my job as a therapist).  I’d been looking for real cross-training for dancers because I was frustrated by my limitations and knew there had to be ways to improve that weren’t just running routines and practicing turns over and over and over and over again.  DWL is where I found what I’d been craving!  A way to truly develop the muscles I needed to develop and a mindset about weightlifting that I’d never had before.  Body Mechanics explains the exercises in ways that make sense to my dancer brain.  Since I started, I’ve noticed so many improvements.  Last June, I had to do a double on stage with no real prep or way to build momentum.  It was on what I’ve called my “bad side”/”bad leg” and I freaking NAILED IT!  While I was on stage, I had a moment of worry, but then I executed that jazz double pirouette and kept right on dancing!  Not even a moment of hesitation…My kicks are getting higher!  My turns are more solid.  I can finally feel all the muscles I need to feel to truly pull my shoulder blades down and back.  Things that PT told me to do but I couldn’t, I’ve finally learned through DWL and Body Mechanics.”


Sara Edwards listed how different her dancing felt as one of the resistance training results she’s seen since joining Body Mechanics:

“Recently, I went back to ballet classes after two years off; I was so surprised at how strong I was, and how powerful my movements were! I definitely feel stronger, both mentally and physically, and I’m eager to tackle my next dance class!”

Something all of our Body Mechanics had in common was their appreciation for the flexibility within the Body Mechanics program. 

“I have absolutely nothing but praise for this program! I was unsure of how to spend my time off between [cruise] contracts so decided to give Body Mechanics a try. It allowed me the flexibility to rest, but to also build for my upcoming contract. I got back into my shows onboard with ease and felt even better than the contract before! I find now, I have better stamina and more power behind my dancing which has been the absolute most exciting feeling.” – Annie Dauzat


“Mel’s encouragement has helped me face those challenges!  Now I can lift enough weight that my parents are impressed when we go to the gym together!  I’m starting to get biceps I can flex!  And what’s even better is that if life is kicking my butt it my body isn’t in the right place to do certain exercises, Body Mechanics gives me options for body weight exercises and Mel is super encouraging about listening to my body and taking a break when needed.  The program is always there for me to come back to and skate brings new challenges.  I’m honestly SO glad I discovered DWL.  Now I can hold my own on stage with fellow dancers who are in performing companies and am even getting encouraged to try out for one of those performing companies.  DWL and Body Mechanics make working out and cross training make sense!  And they make it easy because I don’t have to guess at the exercises I should do.  I highly recommend Body Mechanics for anyone and everyone considering trying DWL!!” – Jessica Townshend


“I’ve been a Body Mechanics member for a while now and I can say it’s one of the best choices I’ve made for myself as dancer, and as a human being! I love the programming and how flexible and varied it is. My life is very busy, so I don’t always have time to get to the gym, but the programs organized perfectly for both the gym and home, so I never miss out!” – Sarah Edwards

What’s the most surprising of all the resistance training results seen by our Body Mechanics?


Each of our Body Mechanics interviewed about this resistance training program for dancers spoke about how impactful having a community of dancers working toward the same goal was.

“It’s also so nice to be a part of a community of dancers who are in all different parts of life, but committed to the same goals. The workouts are great, their knowledge is unmatched and the support is so refreshing.” – Annie Dauzat 


 “I love how I get to chat with other people about milestones and get guidance from all the coaches.”  – Jessica Townshend


“I love how I get to chat with other people about milestones and get guidance from all the coaches.” – Sarah Edwards


Let’s Wrap it Up

There are so many resistance training results dancers will benefit from, whether they lift weights with DWL or not. 

But what sets Dancers Who Lift and Body Mechanics apart (aside from coaches, CEOs, and Administrators who are professional dancers themselves) is the unbreakable, unshakable encouragement found in the Dancers Who Lift community. 

The access to the private chat thread  and Facebook group of fellow dancers in the Body Mechanics program is invaluable. This thread has been known to help non-cooks hack meal prepping, support chronic over-trainers learn to rest, and even help people find sublets or doctors in their area!

If you’re thinking about joining Body Mechanics, or one of the other DWL programs, but you’re still not sure, just shoot us a DM on instagram @dancerswholift, or send us an email at We are always happy to answer questions, concerns, and point you in a direction that we think will be benefit you. 

We hope to hear from you soon!

Want to do some more research first? 

Check out these free workouts, training tips and more from the Dancers Who Lift Blog: 10 Exercises For Dancers That Will Transform Your Technque, Leg Day: Perform At Your Own Risk, The Secret to Warming Up for Dance Auditions… The Right Way!