Ballet and the Body

by Mario Ramos
See how ballet can benefit you.

See how ballet can benefit you.

Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Ballet is one of the most graceful forms of dance. Though it often looks effortless, ballet requires a great deal of strength and technique. While professional dancers who dedicate their lives to this art form are often at greater risk of physical injuries and constant pain than other professionals in the arts, the ballet dilettante can anticipate a plethora of health benefits, including increased strength and flexibility, as well as sharper coordination and decreased risk of heart disease.

Physical Injuries

Professional ballet dancers are at high risk for certain types of injuries. The most common ones consist of ankle sprains and injuries to the knees, hamstrings, back and hips. What often exacerbates these injuries is the fact that many ballet dancers often ignore the pain after an injury, choosing to continue to dance. Unfortunately, if the pain is ignored long enough, the injury may worsen to the point of threatening the dancer's career.

Tolerance of Pain

"Ballet dancers teach their bodies to do things that defy the principles of human design," said Joseph Mazo, author of the book "Dance is a Contact Sport." By engaging in techniques that run counter to the normal operation of the human body, ballet dancers constantly battle pain, so often that they typically get very accustomed to this kind of discomfort. Indeed, pain is often considered a sign of improvement among professional ballet dancers. Over time, they become numb to that pain.

Increased Muscle Tone

For the amateur ballet dancer, however, such injuries and constant pain are a very remote possibility. Those new to this style of dance should eventually experience increased muscle tone and flexibility, as well as increased coordination. Don't let the graceful movements fool you -- ballet is a powerful form of strength training and can be a potent alternative to workouts that involve weightlifting. It can also help you burn off excess fat and strengthen your abdominal muscles. And, because these muscles help to support the spinal column, stronger abs can help alleviate lower back pain.

Other Health Benefits

Ballet can provide you with a rigorous cardiovascular workout, which helps to decrease the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. It also decreases the risks of diabetes, high cholesterol and degenerative bone loss. This is good news for people who are aging and losing their mobility, which is usually the result of insufficient physical exercise.

About the Author

Mario has been acting onstage and on camera for over a decade, beginning in 2002 at university and extending presently to Philadelphia, New York City and even Seoul (South Korea) and Buenos Aires. He is easy to direct and pleasant to work with. Onscreen, Mario comes across as natural and affable, professional and articulate. He currently resides in Boston.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images