Leg Warmers?

7:13 AM

When I first started dancing I only wore a leotard and tights. I never broke a sweat, and I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing (it was bad). Then I got a pair of leg warmers for Christmas. They were pink and soft and a warm cotton/acrylic blend. They were awesome. I wore them every day in class.

And something changed: instead of doing barre and centre and finishing feeling good, my muscles were legitimately tired after class. I loved the feeling! My flexibility increased because my legs were warmer, and my ankles and toes weren't numb after plies because of the air conditioning.

I continued to wear leg warmers for a good two or three years. I never took them off—literally. I'd put on two pairs before class, and by the time class was over I'd have one pair on, but I still had my legs covered! I had found that if I took them off, my legs would get cold and cramp up.

When I went to summer camp at Carolina Ballet, they didn't let us wear warmers. They kept the studios freezing cold though, and I had a serious problem with my legs just not getting warm. One day I was so cold I was doing plies in between combinations, and the teacher noticed and let me put on my sweat pants because I couldn't do anything my legs were so cold.

That summer, I changed something: I forced myself rather than just releve and hold, I pushed into the ground as hard as  could, engaged all my leg muscles simultaneously, and then held it. and then did it again. after a few of those, I was a lot warmer. And I realized I could warm up without coverings on my legs.

As I got stronger, I learned how to fully utilize my muscles and articulate my movements further: rather than just sticking my leg out there, I was really engaging as much as possible and pushing off the floor, lifting the abs, wrapping my turnout…

Now I only wear warmers until my toes re-gain circulation. I generally take them off before degage (which is fast-paced enough that I warm up quickly without them). I wear them if I'm rehearsing, or teaching (in which case I'm dancing on and off) and of course I wear them over my jeans when it's snowing outside.

So now that I've told you my life story, here's a simple bulleted list to help you decide if you should wear warmers in class.


  • Protect against cold air conditioning
  • Help warm up your body faster—especially if your toes are cold or numb before class
  • Keep you warm between classes and rehearsals
  • Helps increase flexibility


  • If you get warm and then take them off too late in the game, you'll get chilled, which isn't good for your muscles
  • If your muscles are too warm, you'll get tired quickly
  • You don't have to work as hard to warm up, so (for younger dancers) you don't end up trying as hard in class

There is no definite "Yes I will wear leg warmers" or "no I will never wear leg warmers." I advise getting a pair or two that you like (one thick, one thin) and having them available when you need them. Just remember: when you're just warm enough, take them off and warm yourself up with your body, not with acrylic and cashmere.

I make some really cute hand-knit and crochet leg warmers at my etsy shop. They're awesome because they keep you warm between combinations when you're standing still, but they breathe really well when you're dancing. It helps regulate the temperature! Check out my warmers here.

Super-chunky and soft                                                 Thin Black and red OR black and white

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  1. yes its true, when you wear any sort of covering leg warmers ect. the muscles get warmer but they are also more lazy!

    i try to only wear leg warmers when i have an injury to keep that part of my leg constantly warm.


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