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Using the Ballet Barre to Stretch for Splits

Swan Lake Ballet Studio, LLC

Students of Swan Lake Ballet Studio use the ballet barre for stretching. If properly done, these stretches help improve flexibility. Make sure to keep your hands light on the barre.

Try the following stretches below with the help of a barre. These stretches can be done outside of class time, but be careful not to push yourself too hard and always warm up your muscles before stretching. Take your time with each step to feel the stretch. If you stretch at home a few times a week you will likely achieve your flexibly goals soon!


Stretch to the Side

Photo of Emily Martin, Photo taken by Ganna Berge

Place one leg on the barre with your hips facing the mirror. Keeping your legs and back straight, and pointing your toes, hold your arms in fifth position and lean towards your toes. Keep your turnout strong and your hips squared. Be sure to take big, deep breathes while holding for a few seconds.

Stretch in Straddle


Photo of Arianna Lee, Photo taken by Ganna Berge

Put one leg on the barre and point your toes. Slide your leg on the barre as far as it will go without feeling pain, just a nice stretch. Make sure to keep your legs straight and breathe deeply. Slowly try to push your split a little further. If you can go into a perfect straddle split without feeling much of a stretch, push yourself into an over split.

Stretch Over Bent Leg


Photo of Emily Martin, Photo taken by Ganna Berge

This position will help stretch your external rotators, the six muscles around the hips. Keeping these muscles lose will improve your turnout.

Put one leg on the barre with your ankle resting on the barre and your knee bent. Bend your ankle so your toes are pointing out for a better stretch. Keep your floor leg straight. Hold your hips square and bend forward towards your foot. Make sure to keep your legs turned out and breathe deeply while holding the stretch. You should feel this stretch across the buttocks.

Stretch Backward

Photo of Arianna Lee, Photo taken by Ganna Berge

Put one leg on the barre, pointing your toes and keeping both legs straight. Make sure to hold your turnout and square your hips towards your foot on the barre. Hold the barre lightly with the same hand as the foot on the floor, and reach your other arm up. Slowly reach your arm back while bending your back. Make sure to keep your shoulders relaxed. This stretch is to improve back flexibility.

Extend Leg

Photo of Arianna Lee, Photo taken by Ganna Berge

Holding the barre lightly with one hand, extend your opposite leg to the side. Wrap your hand, that’s not holding the barre, around the outside of your foot for support. Keep your hips square to the front and remember your turnout. Try to keep both legs straight and lift your leg until you feel the stretch. Make sure to keep your back straight and posture strong, while keeping weight off the barre. If you can’t keep both legs straight while still holding a strong posture, try bending your standing leg.

Extend Leg Behind

Photo of Emily Martin and Arianna Lee, Photo taken by Ganna Berge

Lightly hold the barre with one hand. Bend the leg that’s away from the barre behind you and grab your shin or ankle with the same hand. Pull your leg up and your foot towards your head or the ceiling. Be careful not to overstretch your back. Keep your floor leg straight and try to straighten your lifted leg. Make sure to breathe deeply and keep your chest lifted.

Written by Emily Martin and Ganna Berge

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© 2014 Swan Lake Ballet Studio, LLC

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