Fitness Barre - How to Avoid Knee Pain

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I became a Barre instructor last year. After taking the certification I noticed that my knees bothered me more than usual. For people who follow my blog, they know the struggle I have with my arthritic knees. I am very careful about doing certain exercises that will bother my knees. In September I was asked to teach the class again and I noticed that I had that same achy feeling in my knees again. I decided to do some research on fitness barre and how to avoid knee pain.

Being a dancer or a lover of Barre comes with its own set of aches and pains. Other athletes may see dancing as the “easy” sport or maybe not a sport at all, but the true dancers know this activity is just as demanding as any other.

Your body is pushed to its limits being asked to repeatedly jump, leap, plié, turn and twist in every direction; all while making it look effortless and beautiful. One of the main concerns of dancers and ballerinas, in particular, is knee pain, especially during barre class or routines. Your knees are needed for every movement in barre and dance in general.

They are used when jumping, landing, stabilizing the body while performing pirouettes, and every other move you ask your body to do. This is why knee pain can be such a hindrance. Once the knees start to go, every movement can be challenging. To help prevent this from occurring, we have put together two top tips to help avoid knee pain in barre routines.

1. Engage your core: Every movement produces some level of stress on the body, even just going into relevé places strain on the ankles, knees, and hips to stabilize the body. When the core is loose the stress increases in the lower body; this is because it is now the responsibility of the lower body to somehow stabilize the upper body. If instead, you engage the core, the spine becomes stabilized and the upper body follows suit, lessening the strain felt in the lower body and keeping the knees safe.

2. Align your toes and knees: In any plié or landing movement, the knees should be aligned over the toes. This means if the feet are turned out, the knees should be pushed outward. If the feet are forward, the knees should face forward. When the knees do not align with the toes (if they cave inward while bending) a lot of strain is put on the ligaments of the knee. These ligaments are not as strong as the muscles of the leg and can become fatigued or sustain injury quicker. To keep the ligaments safe, and knee pain minimized, align your knees and toes.

3. Absorb the landing: Even though you will not be jumping as much during a barre class as you would in a ballet class, you still extend up to relevé and down into plié quite a bit. When doing so use the whole foot to create movement. Rising up should be a fluid movement from the heel to midfoot then up onto the toe while coming back down should be the opposite. Avoid just jumping up to toe or landing hard on the heals, both increase stress on the knee.

4. Avoid bending your knee on raised heels: If you experience knee pain every time you take a barre class, avoid doing many squats or pliés on your toes. If you like the class and you constantly have knee pain, keep your feet flat on the floor.

If you want to try Barre but you suffer from knee pain, check out this video you can do at home.
Barre is an exciting and fun way to express movement while perfecting some of the finer ballet movements. Do yourself a favor though and engage the core, align the toes, use your whole foot, or keep your feet flat on the floor to avoid knee pain during barre class.

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  1. Ballet exercising is quite interesting. I don't have the flexibility to do this type of routine though.


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