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Care Package: These tools can help dancers stay in top shape--and as injury-free as possible.

What are the smartest items dancers can invest in for the health of their bodies? We asked for recommendations from four experts: Martt Lawrence, who teaches Pilates to dancers in San Francisco; Lisa-Marie Lewis, who teaches yoga at The Ailey Extension in New York City; physical therapist Alexis Sams, who treats dancers at her clinic in Phoenix; and stretch training coach Vicente Hernandez, who teaches at The School of Pennsylvania Ballet.

FOR SMARTER STRETCHING:

Hugger Mugger's Cork Yoga Block, $19.95

Blocks aren't about what you can't do--they're about helping you get more out of a pose, says Lewis: "Don't let your ego get in the way of getting into the correct position." huggermugger.com

TO BECOME A SAFER, BETTER TURNER:

Superior Stretch's Spinboard, $21.59

Hernandez says turning boards can help you practice proper alignment and feel the sensation of multiple revolutions, superiorstretch.com

TO RECOVER FASTER:

KT Tape Cotton, $12.99

"The tape works by stimulating your sense of touch and calls attention to the injured area while dancing," explains Sams. Though not a longterm solution, it can help on the road to recovery. kttape.com

Body Back FootStar Acupressure Ball, $6.45

"All those nice spiky edges can get into little trigger points," says Sams. She suggests rolling after class when you're already warm and your muscles are pliable. bodyback.com

TO GET STRONGER:

Gratz Industries' Magic Circle, $30

Lawrence says this tool is great for strengthening [TM] your inner thighs--it particularly helps with movements like quick footwork. She suggests practicing small tendus in every direction while squeezing the circle between your ankles. pilates-gratz.com

Merrithew's Strength Tubing, $18.99

Both Hernandez and Sams recommend resistance tubes: They're more resilient than bands, and easily hook on a hand or ankle. merrithew.com

Fitterfirst's Classic Balance Board, $44.95

Sams suggests testing yourself on a balance board in simple, single-leg positions like parallel passe. fitter1.com

FOR YOUR FEET

Prag Movement's Toe Corrector, $51

This tool strengthens the muscles near the big-toe joint and helps prevent bunions. Lawrence particularly recommends it for dancers just starting pointework. pilatesscandinavia.com

Yamuna Foot Wakers Kit, $65.95

In addition to teaching yoga, Lewis performs in The Lion King on Broadway, and warms up her feet with these before every show. "It's like a foot roller, but you can spend more time in each spot," she says, yamunausa.com

PerfectFit Inserts Kit, $42

Sams points out that pointe shoes have always been made to break down so that they mold to the dancer's foot, and these inserts continue that tradition to make the fit even more snug. perfectfitpointe.com

ABOUT THAT FLOOR

The most essential tool for keeping dancers' bodies healthy is arguably a sprung floor. "The shock absorption helps minimize compressive forces that go through your joints when landing from jumps," explains Sams. When you're dancing on a floor that doesn't have any give, your ankles, knees, hips and back end up taking the brunt of the impact, which can open the door to injuries. "Even after taking one class on a concrete floor, dancers will come home with sore muscles and achy joints," says Sams.

Entertainment Flooring Systems' EFS Sprung Floor, $7.50 per square foot, and EFS Timberfloor surface, $31 per linear foot. flooradvice.com

Harlequin WoodSpring, custom price quotes upon request, us.harlequinfloors.com

Stagestep Encore Home, from $482, stagestep.com
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Author:Stahl, Jennifer
Publication:Dance Magazine
Date:Nov 1, 2018
Words:563
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