By Trinity Physical Therapy and Wellness / May 16, 2022

Cross Training Option for Runners

5 Reasons Why Dance is a Great Cross Training Option for Runners

Are you a runner? Do you need to find another form of exercise to cross train?  Would you like to learn about dance as a form of cross training?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this blog is for you.  Below are five reasons why dance is a great form of cross training for dancers.  

  1. Dance works the muscles differently
Running tends to be a single plane forward motion.  This works the muscles a certain way.  However dance tends to require quick change of position, including pivoting and lateral movements which requires a different set of muscles in addition to coordination and motor control.  Using this different set of muscles in dance will benefit running as it will develop muscle tone and improve coordination.  
Postural muscles are crucial in dance, so by using dance to develop different musclaure, you will also gain the benefit of improving your posture. Dance also helps to improve your core strength which is a great carryover for running. 
Dance can help to develop strength, endurance, and coordination to improve your running.  
  1. Improve your balance
Adequate balance is necessary for runners because most of the time when running, you are in a single leg stance.  Being in a single leg stance requires more stability.  When you run, both feet are in flight during what is called the double float phase.  Landing from the double float phase also requires balance and stability so that you don’t roll your ankle or fall to the ground.  
In dance, many positions are held for a certain amount of time in a single leg stance position which helps to build the hip and ankle musculature which is crucial for balance and stability.  Dance also helps to develop core muscular strength which is good carryover in running, not only to help improve your balance but also to increase running speed.  
  1. Improve your flexibility
Dance requires great flexibility in the lower extremities, specifically the hips and ankles.  This is a great carryover to running because running also requires a good amount of flexibility.  Runners do not spend enough time stretching, as a part of their warm-up or cool down.  Doing intentional stretching through a dance class such as ballet will provide length in the muscle tissue so that the fibers are able to recruit more effectively in either sprinting or long distance running.  
  1. Build foot strength
As already mentioned, dance requires a significant amount of balance, therefore building ankle strength in order to maintain stability.  Another aspect of dance includes jumping and striking the floor with your feet which also helps to build foot and ankle strength.  This will carry over to running as it is helpful to have strong muscles within the foot and ankle to improve stability during running and to increase your push off.  
  1. Interval training
Dance is different from long distance running in terms of cardiovascular strength.  However the high intensity of dance requires vascular endurance in order to complete a 3-5 minute choreographed routine.  This will certainly carry over well to high level sprinting but also provides good interval training for long distance endurance runners. Most dance styles require changes in tempo, going from slow to fast and vice versa.  Mixing the high and low intensity levels in dance is a great way to increase and decrease heart rate, efficiently training the heart musculature. Breath control while dancing is similar to breath control while running, making dance another great cross training activity for running. 

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