To all those dancers out there who are trying to keep fit at home - and to the rest of us, as well - we've got two words for you: calf rises. More particularly, single-leg calf rises. They're our company's secret weapon for preventing injury and increasing strength in the lower legs.
WHY DO THEM?
Dancers put a lot of load on their lower legs during activities such as allegro and pointe work, so when they sustain injuries, it tends to be to the ankle and foot. In 2003, our Artistic Health team conducted some research that connected poor calf endurance to injury, so they introduced single-leg calf rises at the end of barre in morning class. Since then, there's been a drastic reduction in lower-leg injuries, and the days of moonboots, crutches, surgeries and extended time off stage are all but gone.
It's not only dancers who benefit from calf rises. They're good for your proprioception (your awareness of your body in space) and your balance. They strengthen your ankles (a boon for such activities as soccer, football and rollerskating). They work all the little muscles in your foot. And they give you a lovely sculpted line. Best of all, they can be done anywhere you can (lightly) hold on to something about hip-height - the back of a chair works well.
Here's a diagram and some FAQs prepared by our Artistic Health team to make your cald rises safe and effective
WHERE SHOULD YOU DO THEM?
This exercise can be done anywhere, as no equipment is required - you just have to have something to lightly place your hand on to help with balance. We prefer that you do not perform this exercise off a step! Try it with the back of a chair, a balcony railing or a kitchen bench. Happy rising!