Why Do Ballerinas Wear Leg Warmers?

Why do ballerinas wear leg warmers? Is there any other reason for them to invest in an extra piece of clothing or are they simply a signature for dancers? 

We have prepared a comprehensive article just for you! Let’s see what leg warmers are made of and what good they do for ballerinas!

Why Do Ballerinas Wear Leg Warmers?

The main purpose of leg warmers is to keep the dancer’s legs toned and warm. Once warmed, the legs are less likely to be cramped even when you execute a complicated sequence. 

The specific benefits of leg warmers are as below:

  • Keep the cold away from affecting your movements.
  • Prevent your legs from stiffness when the air conditioner is blasting powerfully or during a photoshoot.
  • Maintain a comfortable temperature for your body since classes and rehearsals sometimes have short breaks in between.
  • Help the dancer reach their ideal flexibility faster and retain it longer.
  • Promote blood flow and warm the muscles to minimize the risk of injuries.

Check more: Do Pointe Shoes Hurt Your Feet?

What Are Leg Warmers?

Leg warmers resemble feetless socks or merely sleeves for your legs. They tend to have sufficiently elastic fabrics to keep them in position as you put them over your leggings or tights.

Our main concern here is the leg warmers’ ballet purpose (applicable to other dance styles as well), and they are indeed more than a pretty item to wear. 

They protect your muscles and give you a better start in every practice.

Types Of Leg Warmers

If you browse the market, you will find a wide range of products. Nevertheless, they can be divided into a few groups.

  • Ankle High (15 – 20cm)

These leg warmers are mostly for fashion because they are very easy to style and layer with socks without looking bulky. 

If the design is suitable, they can be arm warmers too.

  • Knee High (40cm)

They are the most common in terms of sports as they match tights and leggings while not compromising freshness. Outside of dance practices, they can combine with various footwear styles.

  • Thigh High (50 – 85cm)

If you need extra warmth during cold seasons, this is your choice! 

Aside from warmth, its elegance and poshness are also something we don’t want to miss out on.

  • Stirrup

It might sound foreign but you surely have seen it around: the leg warmers with a hole on the heel and a band around your foot arch. 

They are the most popular leg warmers for dancers and ballerinas since they provide a firm grip.

SATINIOR Leg Warmers for Ballet Dancers
SATINIOR Leg Warmers for Ballet Dancers

Check It’s Price on Amazon

Leg warmers are versatile when it comes to applications. As long as they don’t make your movements difficult or feel too clunky, they are practical as class outfits and track pants.

Are Leg Warmers Good For Ballerinas And Other Dancers?

For all kinds of dancers, the legs are the center of everything they do. Most of the weight and pressure goes straight to the calves, including the soleus and the gastrocnemius.

When you flex the muscles of your calf, you will see a bulge, and it is the gastrocnemius. 

It is very important because it endures the majority of the impact. Beneath it is the soleus connecting all calf muscles.

Leg injuries come from a lack of oxygen delivery, hindered blood flow, and abundant acid, which results in an extreme and negative force or tension on your muscles.

It sounds complex but you can avoid the risk by simply being cautious and taking care of yourself. Wearing leg warmers is one of the basic things to do.

ballerina wears leg warmers

So the quick answer is yes, leg warmers are an essential part of any dancer’s bag. With its assistance, you can avoid some injuries:

  • Tearing muscles are an obstacle to the dancer’s moves.
  • A severe ankle sprain can end up hurting the calves.
  • Likewise, a leg sprain can affect the back of the heels as a result of inaccurate postures.

Nonetheless, pay attention to what your legs have to say! 

If they are warm enough, you should take the leg warmers off right away. Overheating can exhaust your muscles much more quickly than you would like!

You’ll love: Basic Ballet Positions With Pictures For Beginners

Why Don’t Ballet Dancers Wear Leg Warmers On Stage?

So if leg warmers are so beneficial, why don’t we see them as part of the performance?

First of all, warm-up before going on stage is mandatory for dancers, hence they don’t need the warmth from leg warmers. On another hand, excessive heat will make your muscles feel more tired.

Secondly, we wouldn’t feel much from the audience seats, though the stage is usually surrounded by spotlights. They are warm enough to keep the dancers’ blood circulation thriving.

Lastly and evidently, appearance is extremely important for ballet dancers. Leg warmers might be their best friend in practice, yet they would look rather unsightly in public.

Choose & Wear Ballet Leg Warmers

Before you jump into a market filled with different leg warmer products, it’s better if you have in mind a picture of what you want.

leg warmers for ballet dancers


The most favored material for leg warmers is Roubaix since it offers enough comfort and warmth. If you want something thicker, try the Super Roubaix version.

The second ranker in popularity is knitted fabrics. They feel even better than Roubaix, though the one-piece structure might not be for everyone.

Depending on your needs, you might want to try water-resistant fabrics such as Rain Defense, Nano Flex, or No Rain. With brushed fabrics as the lining, your leg warmers will be ready for extremely cold days.


Most leg warmers run from the thighs down to the ankles with several exceptions where they go from knees downward.

You can choose either of them as long as the size is right for you and the seam doesn’t rub at the back of your knees. Or this delicate skin will get some bad chafing.

For each length, the brands will offer various sizes from XS to XXXL. So, you will never have to worry if there is nothing that fits you.

Fit & Gripper

Ballet leg warmers must fit like a glove so you get as much wick and warmth as possible. 

A perfect fit will also assure that you can perform with all your heart without being afraid of your leg warmers slipping off.

However, they mustn’t be overly tight either, so you can easily put them on and off. Otherwise, they might also disrupt blood circulation and cause fatigue.

Nowadays, leg warmers usually have a silicone elastic band to prevent them from slipping down. Furthermore, the silicone can be on the exterior for fixation as well.


The panels for top-tier leg warmers vary greatly. 

For example, the thighs would have windbreaker panels while the knee has Lycra and spandex. 

Warmers with seams might have a better fit but they can also change your habitual movement.

Be aware of moves with bent knees and how they require the leg warmers to be ergonomic. We also consider warmers with zips a clever design, for they give the user a much easier time.


Special properties are exclusively for special occasions. 

For example, you would want to get warmers with seams to save the back of your knees from discomfort.

Some leg warmers come with reflective strips to provide more visibility as well as protective features against coldness or UV rays.


1. Why Do Ballerinas Wear Leg Warmers On One Leg Only?

Once away from the stage and the studio, the biggest concern for ballet dancers is how to maintain warmth for their muscles and avoid injuries.

Therefore, if you see a dancer with only one leg warmer, they are most likely trying to protect that leg from damage.

The reasons vary: perhaps they are recovering from a previous mishap or giving the overworked muscles a break.

2. Do You Wear Socks With Leg Warmers?

Wearing leg warmers with suitable socks can bring you a lot of benefits. You can put on socks either over or under your leg warmers.

So now, what do you get from wearing your socks first?

  • Comfort

Leg warmers often have zippers to secure them around our ankles. 

Without the socks as a kind of padding, these metal zippers will rub against your skin constantly and become quite unpleasant. 

No athlete or dancer wants to experience discomfort when they are already occupied with their performance.

  • Consensus

Aside from the discomfort, athletes generally agree that wearing socks under leg warmers is neater and more familiar for them. 

Sometimes, it is a way for them to either recognize one another or include outsiders.

  • Logic

Putting socks over leg warmers might be difficult and unnecessary at the same time because when you are fully geared up, no one can see your socks!

But it is not wrong to wear socks over leg warmers either!

  • Personality: Perhaps most athletes hide their socks but why must you do the same? Sometimes, being different from the littlest details is essential to artists.
  • Style: When you work as a performer, you would want your outfit to be functional and stylish at the same time. If you have spent money on a fashionable pair of socks, of course, you would love to show it to everyone.

2. What Can I Use Instead Of Leg Warmers?

You can easily pick leg warmers from a store but what if they are not ready for sale?

Luckily enough, clothing items such as leggings, sweaters, or socks are very versatile. Depending on how high you would want your leg warmers to be, you can measure and cut a sufficient piece out of those clothes.

If you are confident with your craftsmanship, you can try to get a loom with pegs and knit your leg warmers. This method allows you to have more control over colors and patterns.

3. Are Leg Warmers In Style At Present?

Back in the 80s, leg warmers become a trend to provide warmth for dancers. They were packed with bold statements like bright colors and unique patterns. 

However, as this trend makes a comeback, it adopts various changes.

They blow up on the internet as influencers and celebrities start to pair them up with streetwear. 

The simple yet stylish item immediately catches everyone’s attention. They are proven to be flattering for silhouettes and do not take a toll on the wallet.

Rather than activewear, leg warmers are now a cozy and comfortable piece of winter clothing. They no longer appear with a bunch of colors, instead, they attract fashion lovers with textures and minimal details.

Final Words

Why do ballerinas wear leg warmers? You certainly have got the answer by now. 

Leg warmers might seem like a simple piece of cloth, though it helps the dancer maintain a preferred condition for their legs and avoid injuries that cost a career. 

It gives you a good start at an economical price, whether you practice at home or in studios!

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