Leg warmers are more than a fashion statement to ballerinas. Surely, this beloved dance accessory does add a touch of style to their performances. But there are serious practical reasons why ballet dancers wear these special warmers.
Read on to understand better how important it is for ballerinas to wear leg warmers!
Why do ballerinas wear leg warmers?
In short, in ballet, the purpose of leg warmers is to keep the lower legs’ muscles and ankles warm to stimulate blood flow and prevent injuries. Ballerinas and ballet dancers also wear leg warmers to keep their legs toned both between and during rehearsals. It likewise helps perform challenging ballet steps and combinations without getting cramps.
Ballerinas’ legs are essential to perform every move. As a consequence, most of the weight goes straight to their lower limbs. You can imagine how heavily ballet dancers rely on their legs and calves and how this can lead to injuries.
Because of this, during the start and stop between practice, ballet dancers wear leg warmers that go from their ankles up to their knees or sometimes even higher up their thighs. The special knit, easy on-and-off piece of clothing, helps keep their muscles stretched and the blood flowing between classes.
Why do ballet dancers sometimes wear just one leg warmer?
When not performing, dancers often worry about their legs staying warm and comfy to prevent getting hurt. Usually, when ballet dancers wear just one leg warmer, it means that they have a minor injury in that leg and it can help keep it from becoming too sore.
Read the related article “Why do dancers wear dance leotards?”
Benefits of wearing leg warmers for ballerinas
- Keeps their lower legs warm and cozy especially when the AC is on.
- Speeds up their “warming up” before class, reducing any muscle stiffness.
- Protects them from getting injured. Cold muscles are prone to injury.
- Helps reach maximum flexibility faster and maintain it during rehearsals.
- Shapes and tones their legs.
- Keeps them warm while still being able to clearly see their technique.
As the name implies, not only do they keep the legs warm but also give a little squeeze that helps maintain excellent blood circulation, lowering the risk of cramping and severe injuries. Plus, they don’t interfere with the dancers’ range of motion or slow down their movements.
What leg injuries do they help prevent?
Ballet dancers are often prone to getting hurt more than they realize. During their practice, leg warmers can help protect against this high risk of injuries.
Here are some common ballet leg injuries:
- Ankle sprains: an injury that happens when you roll, twist, or turn your ankle.
- Muscle strains: an injury to a muscle (ex: calves) or a tendon.
- Tendonitis: inflammation of the thick fibrous cords (called tendons) that attach muscle to bone.
- Shin splints: inflammation of the muscles, tendons, and bone tissue around your tibia.
- Heel pain or “dancer’s heel”: the tissue at the back of the ankle is trapped between the ankle and heel bone.
With sufficient warmth, your blood vessels expand, letting more oxygen get to your muscles. As a result, less lactic acid build-ups, keeping your muscles from cramping.
Read the related article “Is ballet a sport?”
What are the drawbacks of using leg warmers for ballet?
- Muscle fatigue: if too warm, it can cause your muscles to tire too fast. So, it is important to take your leg warmers off once you are properly warmed up.
- Stop trying your best: if you don’t have to push as hard to warm up, you may not work as hard in class.
- Distraction: leg warmers can slip during movement, which can disrupt when you perform.
As you can see, there’s more to this iconic functional gear that goes beyond just style. From injury prevention to improved flexibility, leg warmers play a crucial role in a dancer’s performance. A serious injury can happen so suddenly and could even mean the end of a ballet dancer’s dream career. Leg warmers are affordable, effective, and a fast way to provide plenty of warmth, especially during cold winter months.
Read the related article “How do ballet dancers get strong legs | 7 power moves”
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