A Ballet Workout Develops The Psoas Muscle Or Hip Flexor

The psoas muscle, or hip flexor, plays a huge part in a ballet workout. The psoas muscle runs from the thigh to the anterior or front of the spine. As a hip flexor, or a muscle that bends the hip joint, lifting the thigh, this muscle is responsible for your higher leg extensions to devant, or the front, and a la seconde, or position to the side. This involves many of the beautiful ballet positions in classical and modern choreography.

The abdominal muscles work in concert with the hip flexor, supporting the spinal posture at all times. Holding the spine strong, with its natural curves, all your low core muscles, other abdominal muscles, and your back muscles, brace you so you can have relaxed and fluid neck, shoulder, upper back, and arm muscles. Right down to your finger tips. This is what makes ballet positions and ballet moves so beautiful.

In arabesque, your high leg extension to the back, the psoas muscle needs to be easily elongated. Allowing for the bend in the spine, and the elastic length along the front of the thigh and hip joint, the hip flexor now extends, and the abdominal muscles support you. Developing this position in your many many ballet barres, allows you to jump, or releve onto pointe, and descend gracefully, without your upper back dipping forward, or your arabesque dipping in the back.

The psoas muscle and quad muscle, the big muscle in the front of your thigh, therefore need to be stretched to relieve the muscle tension that builds up over the duration of your ballet workout. This maintains the muscle tone, as a tense muscle is a weaker muscle. Here’s a brief description of a quad stretch:

  • standing feet parallel, bend up one foot and grab it with the same side hand, keeping knees together
  • without changing your spine or hip alignment, press the foot outward behind you
  • stop at the point where you feel a great stretch, hold for 30 seconds
  • repeat and do the other side

Do this as often as you can during your ballet workout.

To stretch the psoas muscle do the runner’s lunge:

  • legs parallel, lunge, keeping the hips straight up and down
  • deepen the bend of the front knee slowly, and you’ll feel the stretch across the hip joint and higher
  • hold, repeat, repeat other side

Always be warmed up to stretch. After a few ballet workout exercises you’re plenty warm.

Learn more about strengthening and stretching your psoas muscle for your best high leg extensions.

The hip flexor muscle and your arabesque

DVD – The hip flexor and your arabesque.

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