As a dancer, you need to respect your body by being dancesafe and practicing safe dance practice at all times.
Believe it or not, dancing is great for your body and dancers tend to live long lives in superb health. They seem to maintain their strength, suppleness and good posture well into old age.
Let’s look at Margot Fonteyn for instance who danced professionally well into her sixties or Frederic Franklin who performed with the American Ballet Theater when he was ninety.
But dancers, just like all elite athletes need to look after their bodies in order to perform at their best and avoid injury.
How To Remain Dancesafe
Luckily most qualified teachers and professional companies know more now than ever before about safely training the dancer’s body so that it performs at its best.
Knowing about your own joints and muscles and being able to heed their warnings is the crucial first line of defense against overuse injuries along with making sure you have the proper footwear and are dancing on sensible floors.
Even though this is all common sense, it is easy to let things slide, especially when there are many demands on your time.
It is tempting to confuse hard work, discipline and occasional discomfort entailed in ballet with unhealthy patterns of thought and behavior.
You won’t be able to dance if you discipline yourself into illness or injury.
Being dancesafe includes:
working on decent sprung floors or floors that have ‘give’ in them to protect the dancer’s bones and knees.
training the correct muscles in the correct alignment to avoid long term injuries.
avoiding risky behavior that shortens a dancer’s career. This includes doing steps and tricks before a dancer is physically ready for them.
getting enough rest in between dance classes and rehearsals and maintaining a consistent schedule.
Let’s look at nutrition in the quest to being dancesafe, as this is something that many dancers don’t think is that important.
Being Nutritionally Dancesafe
Nutrition is obviously a fundamental part of being dancesafe, and often this is where dancers fall short as they are trying so hard to remain slender they tend to under-eat.
Whatever body shape or type that you have, your dancing will improve if you are strong and lean. You also have to learn not to stint on nutrition, as real, vibrant long-term health relies on what you put into your body.
Food is more than just fuel, it is the construction material with which your body builds and repairs itself.
High-level athletic performance requires first-rate nutrition as you need the energy. You may feel that you are surviving quite well on a diet of junk food, but it will catch up with you. You will also feel so much better when you eat wisely.
Strive to get a good balance of fresh, non-processed foods that are free of additives, and organic where possible.
Rather than count calories, make your calories count. For instance, an orange and a soda both provide sugar for energy, but the orange is full of vitamin C while the soda is virtually nutrient-free.
Also, make sure that as a dancer you are eating enough. Insufficient calorie intake reduces muscle strength, endurance, speed, and coordination. You increase your risk of injury and prolong recovery after an injury.
Low blood sugar impairs your concentration, decision-making and mood. You will feel more angry, anxious, irritable and even depressed. Ultimately your health and your performance will suffer.
How To Eat Well
There is no miracle one food that has everything in it that we need, but it’s the sensible balance that makes the body run like a well-oiled machine.
We also require water, fiber, and our vitamins and minerals. Don’t rely on your supplements to get all your micronutrients because our bodies absorb nutrients much more efficiently and fully from real whole foods.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are the best sources for many crucial micronutrients, and they are low in calories and high in fiber. As a dancer make sure you are getting enough carbohydrates and lean protein into your diet. This includes whole grains and cereals, brown rice, meat, poultry, dairy, legumes, and nuts.
Diet don’ts include:
eating extremes of any kind
refined and processed foods
food grown with pesticides, antibiotics or hormones
sodas – both regular and diet
The Secret Nutrient: Water
Hydration is also part of keeping our bodies well-nourished. All the body’s systems require enough water to function properly.
Because dancers and other athletes lose water through perspiration, it’s especially important to stay hydrated. No one can tell you exactly how much water your body needs because it varies from day to day, but every dancer should have access to water at all times.
If your urine is dark yellow rather than clear of light yellow, this could indicate dehydration, so make a water bottle part of your regular dance kit.
There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t be smoking and the top ones are cancer, emphysema, and heart disease. As a dancer, you need to have lung capacity which will be reduced if you are a smoker.
Other reasons not to smoke include smelly hair, unhealthy skin, weak finger, and toenails. So if you want to dance to your full potential, its simple, don’t smoke.
Well, there you have it in a nutshell. I believe everything in moderation, and if you stick to the 80/20 percent rule you should be ok. So if you need the occasional treat make sure that it is less than 20 percent of the time, and 80 percent of the time you should be eating healthily.
Turnout in ballet is a very controversial subject, and every ballet dancer wants to achieve perfect turnout. But how does turnout actually work and what are the limits. Let’s look at some of the muscle groups and ways in which we can increase our turnout in ballet.
Why is this and why do we need turnout in ballet?
There are three reasons we need to turn out in ballet.
The first reason is that turnout helps the dancer move sideways across the stage. In this way, the dancer can keep facing the audience in front of her as she moves effortlessly and elegantly across the stage.
The second reason we have turnout in ballet is because you can lift your legs higher when they are turned out. In ballet, the dancer aims to get her leg as high as possible without compromising her posture and hip alignment, and turnout is used to achieve this.
The third reason is that it looks aesthetically pleasing to watch a dancer with turnout. Turned in legs do not look at all attractive in ballet.
What is Turnout In Ballet?
Turnout is the outward rotation of your legs from the hip socket. Turnout in ballet can be used to describe the angle at the feet, the flexibility of the hip or the muscular control of that external rotation.
Although it is safe to imagine that the feet should perfectly reflect the available external rotation at the hip, in practice this is not exactly right.
Thomasen, who was a Danish orthopaedic surgeon, said in 1982 that the lower leg is externally rotated 5 degrees at the extended knee and that the normal ankle joint has an axis with an external rotation of 15 degrees. Therefore the foot lies at an angle of 20 degrees outwards. This is a bonus for classical dancers, but pushing beyond this at the knee or at the ankle when fully turning out the hip causes distortion of these joints with resulting malalignment of the foot.
Unfortunately once the joints are forced out of alignment, true balanced muscular control of the joint is lost.
So dancers need to be very careful to make sure that they are working within the range dictated by the hip joint, and only then can the externally rotated limb be securely controlled.
Turnout is not about standing and trying to force your feet into a 180-degree line as can be seen in Figure A. This is an impossible, over turned-out position.
Figure B shows a more realistic angle at which to work, but this position still demands at least 60 degrees of external rotation from the hip.
Figure C shoes a still visually acceptable angle at which to work, where a good balance of muscular control can be used around the hip.
When training young children, they need to work at an even more decreased angle to avoid injuring their joints over time.
Children dancing from the ages six to twelve years have the benefit of developing the femoral neck angle and after that can the bone shape no longer be altered.
To benefit from this, the child must presumably be working at her individual maximum with good control in order to generate the force withing the hip joint.
The entire leg is rotated outwards, and it is dependent on your flexibility in the hip socket as to how far you can work your turnout. When bending your knees, they should always align with your toes and when standing, your kneecap should face the same way as your foot is pointing.
The amount of external rotation in the hip is dictated by the shape of the bones involved and the flexibility of the ligaments, joint capsule, and muscles.
What Muscles Are Used In Turnout?
There are many muscles of turnout, some more important than others, and there will be a constant interplay between them depending on the position of the hip.
Teachers will need to find the best ways of teaching turnout. Some may emphasize the wrapping round of the upper thigh at the back and others may emphasize the flattening and rotating of the front of the thigh.
These are the muscles that are used and that will be activated during external rotation of the hip in classical ballet. How much they are activated depends on the position of the hip joint.
The first are the adductors (inner thigh muscles). Nowadays the majority of teachers believe these are the most important muscles and insist that they are used.
In first, third or fifth position of the feet when the thigh is is fully turned and the pelvis held in balance, the inner thigh is brought to the front producing a flatness and muscle delineation, which is evidence of control and increased stability.
If we consider that the pubis of the pelvis is the origin of the adductors and the insertion is down the line spear at the back of the femur and if the pelvis is well placed (neither tucked under nor arched), the adductors will pull the back of the femur round towards the front.
They will also adduct it (bring it in towards the centre), which is exactly what we want in our closed positions, from where we start and in which we finish.
The more anterior muscles of the adductor group also help with flexion, taking the hip into deviant positions.
So teachers need to continue teaching the importance of the adductors in holding turnout. These muscles need to work hard in all closed positions and closing movements in first and fifth.
Using the adductors of the supporting leg in adage will help the control of the supporting hip. However, in high adage positions to second when the pelvis has tilted horizontally, it is unlikely that the adductors are active on either leg. The adductors could well be holding onto turnout as they go through the motions of a grand battements a la second, but It is important that this muscle group develops strength to balance out the muscles on the outside of the hip.
The apparent decrease in knee problems in dancers over the past two decades could be due to better emphasis on the use of the inner thigh rather than the forcing of turnout from the feet.
The gluteus Maximus is the most superficial of the seat muscles and is an external rotator of the hip joint and will be more or less active throughout classical movement.
If it is over gripped in static positions, the pelvis will tuck under and the normal lumbar curve will flatten. Whan movement takes place, the gripping actions must relax and so control is thus lost.
The Gluteus Maximus is an important muscle which extends the thigh and turns it out, as in arabesque. Posturally it works with the hamstrings below and supports the spine above, but overuse disturbs fine control and upsets muscle balance around the hip.
The third set of external rotators is made of the six deep lateral rotators (deep turnout muscles) situated closely over the back of the hip joint.
These can be thought of as the deeper layer of the gluteal muscles. This group is made up of the obturator interns and externes, gelmellus superior and inferior, quadrates femurs and piriformis. Their attachments strongly suggest that they are external rotators of the hip, but they are so deep that no EMG studies have been carried out on them.
However most dance investigators ad anatomists agree about the importance of the six deep lateral rotators in their role as turnout muscles.
So when standing on two feet in your ballet positions, the adductors, Gluteus Maximus and the deep turnout muscles will be well activated. In adage positions to second where the hip is abducted the deep lateral rotators come into their own.
As so much of our classical vocabulary is set in second positions, both a terre and en l’air, the full use of rotation and the dropping of the hip requires the use of these ideally placed muscles.
Remember that these are relatively small muscles and they will need to work concurrently with others to generate a burnout force around the joint.
The Sartorius is the long diagonal muscle which passes over the front of the thigh from the pelvis above ve the hip joint to the medial condyle of the tibia. It has a rotatory effect on the hip, although its main action is flexion, abduction and external rotation of the thigh at the hip and flexion of the knee like in a retire. The Sartorius works with the six deep lateral rotators in second positions.
The posterior fibres of the Gluteus medius and minimus also help with external rotation of the hip as the anterior fibres internally rotate.
Biceps femoris, the outside hamstring muscle, contributes to external rotation of the hip, pulling laterally on the head of the fibul where it inserts.
Another muscle that contributes to turnout is the iliopsoas, which is the main hip flexor. It is also an external rotator helping to hold the turnout in devant positions along with the adductors.
So as you can see there are many muscles of turnout, and some more important than others. There will be a constant interplay between them depending on the position of the hip.
While it is interesting to learn about the muscles of the hips, teachers cannot teach too analytically, but instead have to find the key to achieve the desired results.
How To Turnout In Ballet
Simply spreading your feet outwards as wide as they will go, as most beginners tend to do, is not correct, as you are simply placing a lot of strain on the knees, and this is going to cause injury in the future.
The best way to start is to find your natural turnout by standing with your feet in parallel first position, and then gently squeezing the buttocks muscles and letting your legs move outwards from the hip.
Once you are in natural turnout, there are many exercises that are done during your ballet class that work in turnout and train the muscles to remember this position and improve on it while you are dancing.
The more you dance in turnout, the stronger the muscles will get, and your body will allow you to do more as you get stronger. In the beginning, you will often feel your turnout slipping. Just stay focused on holding the turnout from the hips while you dance, and your body will eventually start doing it on its own.
Extra Note: When you turn out your legs for the first time you may find that one side can comfortably turn out much more than the other side. If this is the case, always work according to the rotation of the less supple leg. Never force turnout as this will lead to injury.
How Can I Improve My Turnout?
Most dancers dream of having 180-degree turnout, and unfortunately, this is just not possible on most body types. You can, however, enhance and improve on what you already have.
Remember, in order to be a good dancer or a professional dancer, there is a lot more than turnout that is needed, for example, musicality, technical strength, good feet – the list goes on…. Most gifted dancers do not have 180-degree turnout but still do very well for themselves.
If you start to dance as an adult, it is a lot harder to get your turnout as the hips have already set, whereas in a child the growing body is pliable and supple.
On this video, is one of the more popular exercises to stretch the turnout in your hips.
How To Increase The Turnout In My Supporting Leg
Here is an excellent exercise to do to increase the turnout in your supporting leg.
More Exercises for Your Turnout in Ballet
Tune Up Your Turnout In Ballet
Working rotation from the hips is important in all dance forms, not just ballet.
Here are two exercises to test your turnout and then end with a stretch.
Exercise No. 1
Lie on the floor with your hips about two feet away from the wall and place your legs at a 60-degree angle above the ground, resting your heels against the wall.
Hold your feet a few inches apart with your legs parallel to one another. Keep your knees straight.
Place your hands on your hips to make sure they remain still.
Working from this starting position, slowly rotate your legs out, initiating from the hips.
You will feel your inner thighs wrap forward and out like you should when standing in a turned-out position.
Without the floor under your feet, you won’t be able to twist your knees and angles to increase your turnout, you will be working only within your natural range.
Once you are fully rotated, return to parallel and repeat the rotation five more times.
Exercise No. 2
Lie on your side with your head resting on one arm and the other arm bent in front of you with the palm flat on the ground. Line up your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles so that you aren’t rolling forward or back.
Slide your knees forward so that they are slightly bent. Point your toes and keep them in line with your upper body.
Without changing the position of your torso, hinge your top leg like a door, opening at your knee and keeping your feet connected.
The rotators of your upper leg will be isolated as you work against gravity to lift your knee without disturbing your balance.
Hold your most turned out position for a few seconds before lowering.
Repeat 15 times then roll over and repeat on the other side.
If you really want to work those rotators repeat the exercise with a thera band tied around your legs just above your knees.
After working those rotators, stretch it out by sitting with one leg bent in front of you and fully extend your other leg behind you, aiming to keep your hips square.
Relax your upper body forward and feel a release in the hip of your front leg.
Hold for 30 seconds or longer and then repeat on the other side.
Correct control of turnout in ballet does not just happen. It needs to be careful tough, just as the position of the pelvis, alignment of the spine and weight placement through the foot need to be guided.
Plantar fasciitis is a pretty common ailment amongst runners, walkers and even unfortunately dancers. In this post, I will look at how to cure Plantar Fasciitis with the use of some great stretches that are important for the flexibility and range of motion of the lower leg, ankle and foot muscles.
Good flexibility around the ankle and foot allows for unrestricted, pain-free movement of the ankle, foot and arch, so it makes sense to stretch out these muscles on a regular basis whether or not you have Plantar Fasciitis.
What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia). The plantar fascia acts as your shock absorber, but if it becomes inflamed it can be very painful.
Itis most commonly caused by strain injury causing micro-tears to the ligament as it attaches to the heel bone or other areas of tightness on the sole of the foot.
How To Cure Plantar Fasciitis
Here are some quick relief tips that may help you if you find that the pain is too much to cope with.
Wear Supportive Footwear
Wear shoes that provide good arch support and have a low heal, especially if you’re going to be on your feet a lot. This helps to support your plantar fascia and prevent them from becoming inflamed or more inflamed.
Your doctor may recommend orthotic shoe inserts or foot pads to help distribute your weight more evenly, especially if you have high arches or flat feet.
You can get them ready-made at most pharmacies, or your doctor can have some made custom for your feet. The shoes below either has built-in orthotics or you can put the orthotic that your doctor gives you into the shoe.
Click on the links or on the pictures if you want to find out more about the products mentioned.
It also helps with a mild to moderate pronation of the foot, metatarsal pain, heel and arch discomfort, flat feet, sore feet and other common foot ailments.
The sandals are lightweight, flexible and have controlled cushioning that reduces stress on the heels, feet and knees.
Applying Lavender essential oil may help as it has anti-inflammatory properties that make it a possible treatment for pain caused by inflammation.
If you regularly wear the same shoes to exercise, make sure to replace them from time to time. Signs that you need a new pair include:
wear on the outsoles
stretching of the heels
moulding of the insoles to the shape of your foot
breakdown of shoe interior
new blisters forming on your feet
new pain in your feet, legs, or back
Runners should replace their athletic shoes every 400–500 miles. Nonrunners should replace athletic shoes every six months or so, depending on how often you wear them.
You can perform simple massage techniques to soothe the pain in your heels. Use your thumbs to massage your arches and heels, working from the balls of your feet up to your heel. You can also use a golf ball to massage your arches. Put your foot on the golf ball, hang on to a stable item, and roll the golf ball under your arches.
Use Ice On The Affected Area
An ice pack like the one pictured here that can be purchased online can help to reduce inflammation.
Use A Tennis Ball
Gently massage your foot by rolling it on a tennis ball. Concentrate on the areas that are sensitive.
Lose Some Weight
Carrying extra weight puts more pressure on your plantar fascia. If you’re overweight, losing a few pounds can help to alleviate some of that pressure.
Sometimes, plantar fasciitis is a sign that your feet simply need to rest, especially if you regularly do high-impact sports. Giving your feet a break for a few days can help to reduce inflammation and let your plantar fascia heal. While you heal, try a low-impact activity like swimming.
Plantar Fasciitis Stretches
Running, Sprinting, Track, Cross Country, Walking, Dancing, gymnastics and any sport that involves jumping or explosive movement will benefit by using plantar fasciitis stretches regularly.
While performing the plantar fasciitis stretches below there are a number of muscles within the lower leg and arch of the foot that are stretched.
Below is a comprehensive list of the anatomical muscle names involved in the following plantar fasciitis stretches.
Flexor digitorum brevis, Abductor hallucis, Abductor digiti minimi, Quadratus plantae (Arch of the foot); and
Flexor hallucis brevis, Adductor hallucis, Flexor digiti minimi brevis (Arch of the foot);
As with any activity, there are rules and guidelines to ensure that they are safe and stretching is no exception.
Stretching can be harmful and cause injury if done incorrectly, so make sure that you follow these guidelines below:
Warm-up the muscles you want to stretch before you begin.
Don’t hold your breath because holding your breath can cause tension in your body and in your muscles. Breathe deeply and relax while performing your stretches.
Never force a stretch beyond the point of mild tension. Stretching tight muscles, and especially the muscles in the arch of the foot, can be uncomfortable, but you should never feel acute pain. Move into the stretch until you can feel mild tension and if you do feel any pain, stop immediately.
It’s obviously difficult to stretch if your clothes are too tight, so make sure that they are loose, comfortable and don’t restrict your movement.
Be consistent because stretching for a few minutes each day will gradually build flexibility and range of motion. This is far preferable to stretching only once a week for a longer time.
Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 1
Kneel with one leg at the back and one leg in the front. Bring your front foot in underneath you and push gently on the knee, taking your body forward. Make sure your foot is still flat on the floor. You will feel your ankle and back of heel stretching, and possibly also feel pressure on the front of the ankle.
Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Repeat on the other side then repeat 2 or 3 times.
Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 2
Kneel on one foot with your hands on the ground. Place your body weight over your knee and slowly move your knee forward.
Keep your toes on the ground and arch your foot. Hold this stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds and repeat at least 2 to 3 times on each side.
Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 3
Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 4 and 5
Want more Plantar Fasciitis Stretches?
This book can be purchased on Amazon and is one of their best sellers, so you know the advice works.
Jim Johnson, P.T. is a physical therapist who has spent over 28 years treating both inpatients and outpatients with a wide range of pain and mobility problems – from back pain to heart transplants to neuromuscular disorders.
He has written many bestselling pain books – all based completely on published research and controlled trials. His books have been translated into other languages, and thousands of copies have been sold worldwide.
Besides working full-time as a clinician in a major teaching hospital and writing books, Jim Johnson is a certified Clinical Instructor by the American Physical Therapy Association and enjoys teaching physical therapy students from all over the United States.
If you are a dancer in this day and age and you want to get stronger, then you have probably realised that dancing alone is not going to get you where you want to go. This is where cross training for dancers comes in.
Most ballet dancers feel that they want to spend all their time dancing but a well-rounded dancer can definitely benefit from the wide variety of different exercises, strengthening options and methods out there. The quality of your dancing can only be improved by making use of them.
Some of the best methods of cross training for dancers include Pilates, resistance training, yoga, floor barre, swimming, elliptical training, among others.
All these things work on improving your overall strength and stamina, and help you to overcome specific weaknesses (we all have them lurking somewhere in our bodies).
These exercises can only complement a dancers regime. You will become a stronger ballet dancer by doing more than just dancing.
Take Misty Copeland for instance. That well-toned body of hers does not come from her ballet training alone.
Cross Training For Dancers
Let’s look at some of the things that dancers can do to improve both their strength, flexibility and technique.
Pilates is very popular with both ballet dancers and non-ballet dancers. This makes it looks like a fitness fad, but in actual fact, Pilates has been around for over eighty years.
George Balanchine and Martha Graham were among the first in the ballet world to recognise Pilates as being especially beneficial for dancers.
Pilates was developed by Joseph Pilates, who turned his knowledge of boxing, yoga, gymnastics and martial art, as well as his experience rehabilitating patients from World War I, into a system of exercises meant to increase a person’s overall strength and flexibility, without creating bulky muscles.
Pilates focuses on creating a really strong core that will support all the other movements in ballet dancing. Pilates can also target those weak lower back muscles and enable the dancer to perform ballet exercises and technique correctly. Pilates will also discover and correct imbalances and misalignments that can hinder a ballet dancer’s progress.
Pilates for beginners is usually taken one on one with an instructor, to establish alignment, breathing, form and you will learn to do each exercise perfectly. Once you become more advanced you should be able to work in groups or even on your own.
Here are some Pilates resources for you to look at as cross training for dancers:
This video has a great, limbering warm-up routine, followed by over 20 explicitly broken down, step-by-step, instructions that anyone (yes, even you) can follow.
This video progressed in stages so that even absolute beginners will have no problem getting a complete and invigorating workout.
Geared towards beginners and those who are learning their first pilates movements, all the way to intermediates, a lot of time is spent on explanation and proper repetition, so you get the most out of your workout.
Multiple angles make sure you don t miss any of the important alignment or subtle movements of the Pilates exercises. A great video, and a chance for you to experience a great dancer s workout!
Yoga is also great cross training for dances as it trains a union in body and mind. In fact, the word yoga means union.
Yoga is an ancient Indian practice and is a form of exercise that is meant to become a life long discipline.
The benefits of yoga in ballet dancing is to develop focus, breathing, ease tense muscles, improved balance and increase flexibility.
Yoga can be used as a great de-stressor and a soothing focus on the intense training regimen that ballet dancers often have.
Yoga is performed slowly with purposeful breathing. Each stretch is followed by a stretch in the opposite direction. Yoga doesn’t have the beautiful lines that ballet does, but each movement is performed for the therapeutic benefits.
Yoga is popular everywhere, and there are a variety of styles from which to choose, it’s up to you to choose the class that suits you.
Science of Yoga reveals the facts, with annotated artworks that show the mechanics, the angles, how your blood flow and respiration are affected, the key muscle and joint actions working below the surface of each pose, safe alignment and much more.
With insight into variations on the poses and a Q&A section that explores the science behind every aspect of yoga, look no further than Science of Yoga to achieve technical excellence in your practice and optimise the benefits of yoga to your body and mind.
A great book for dancers wishing to understand the use of yoga when it comes to cross training for dancers.
Swimming is amazing when it comes to cross training for dancers because of the tremendous amount of decompression that happens when you are in the water.
Swimming allows you to move your joints without the effects of gravity and because there are so many strokes to choose from, dancers with tight upper bodies need not shy away from the pool. Backstroke is excellent for stretching the front of your chest and at the same time strengthen the back of your torso and shoulders.
Breaststroke while great for the hips and legs will tend to make your chest tighter as a dancer.
Running underwater or treading water is a great way to work that heart without the joint pressure associated with running.
Cycling is a great way to strengthen the quads and gluts, but dancers should ride at a lower resistance to prevent them from building bulky muscles.
Sit upright rather than riding a racing bike to prevent the shortening of the muscles in the front of the hips.
Cycle with a nice upright posture and use your breathing.
Running is not the best exercise for dancers, but a good alternative is using the eliptical machine, which will give you a solid cardiovascular workout without the high impact and stress on your joints.
Because you are working in a parallel environment, you can vary the grade and vary the resistance. If you are on a machine without handles, work on your balance by not holding the sides and using your arms as if you were jogging.
This elliptical trainer can be purchased online and it provides a smooth and quiet operation that is the same experience as a gym but in the comfort of your home.
8 levels of magnetic resistance that you can choose your own fitness goals.
When it comes to cross training for dancers, you will need to set goals for yourself. For instance, if you want to strengthen your quads because your knees are taking strain, then schedule two to three bike rides a week for about 30 minutes and then reassess after a few weeks how your knees are improving.
Break down your schedule into six week training periods to allow yourself to accomplish each goal you set out for yourself.
This way of doing things narrows your focus and makes it easier to stay motivated.
If you are already doing many hours of dancing a day, you will need to limit your cross training so that you don’t burn out.
The trick is to be smart about your cross training and in time your dancing will reap the rewards.
Sore muscles after a tough workout or dance class are unfortunately common. They are also a normal part of the training process. In this post, I would like to look at how to get rid of sore muscles.
Sometimes the soreness only hits a day or two later, and this type of soreness is called DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
DOMS feels different from a pulled muscle or muscle sprain. These sore muscles are in response to an unusual type of exertion during an activity that the body isn’t used to, or maybe you have suddenly targeted a new muscle that hasn’t worked in that way for a while.
DOMS isn’t necessarily bad for us, as the process produces greater strength and stamina in the muscles over time. So your sore muscles are an indication that they are getting stronger, which is a good thing.
Warning: Don’t overdo it! Be sure that the muscle soreness is only moderate and that it has been caused by exercise, not by muscle overuse or injury.
What Is Adaptation?
Adaptation is the ability of the body’s muscles to adjust to your bodies changing physical demands. This process enables you to coordinate muscle movement and to develop sports skills. By repeatedly practicing the same physical activity, it becomes second-nature and easier to perform. Only in the early stages of the activity, when it is relatively new to you, does muscle soreness or DOMS usually occur.
What Causes Sore Muscles And DOMS?
Muscles experience physical stress when we exercise. Certain factors can challenge the adaption process, which can ultimately cause moderate muscle damage and soreness as opposed to unnecessary pain or injury.
These factors could include:
Not warming up properly.
Not cooling down and stretching after your training.
Doing exercise that is too strenuous for your fitness level
Exercising too hard at the beginning of your training program.
Overtraining or overexerting yourself.
Doing too much too quickly.
Increased blood flow to the muscles during exercise can cause swelling and irritation muscles that are already sore.
Why Do Muscles Get Sore?
It is natural for your muscles to feel sore the next day after exercising, as you have put stress on them during exercise.
These sore muscles then need to recover to increase their endurance and strength. So basically, muscle recovery leads to improved muscle function. Let’s look at this process in greater detail.
By exercising hard, you stress your muscle tissue beyond what it is used to. Your muscles begin to burn, which indicates muscle damage. Because of this damage, your muscles feel sore the next day.
Muscle soreness is delayed because damage to the muscles consists of microscopic tears in the muscles after they have undergone lengthening (eccentric) contractions. Inflammation sets in after 24 to 48 hours, which then causes a sore feeling.
Muscle biopsies were taken immediately after physical exertion show disruption of z-band filaments holding the muscle fibers together as they slide over each other during a contraction. Next-day muscle soreness (DOMS) is solely caused by damage to the muscle fibers themselves.
It used to be thought that DOMS was caused by a build-up of lactic acid in the muscles, but lactic acid in the muscle’s tissue is completely washed out 30 to 60 minutes after physical activity.
Can You Prevent Sore Muscles?
You can only prevent sore muscles by doing everything at the same pace and intensity as you have always done it, which is not normal because muscles need to be stressed enough to strengthen them but not too much to cause them injury.
Normal healthy muscles need to be pushed through physical activity so if you’re looking to improve your performance or get fitter, faster and stronger, sore muscles cannot be prevented or avoided.
Here are some tips to get sore muscle relief and help you prevent, or at least minimize, the type of sore muscles that cause injury.
Warm up properly before any physical activity.
Gradually increase either the intensity or the duration of your workout, not both at once.
Be aware of your fitness level and don’t overtrain, particularly in the early stages of any exercise routine.
Use correct posture and positioning when exercising.
Don’t increase both intensity and duration during the same week.
Finish your exercise session with a thorough cool-down and stretch.
Sore muscles are a natural outcome for physical activity, particularly in the beginning stages of an exercise program.
Don’t give up exercising altogether just because you have sore muscles. Give your body time to recover and continue with your activity. By doing this, you are allowing your body to adapt to higher stress in a very healthy and natural way, which will lead to stronger muscles and greater fitness.
As you probably already know, the best core strengthening exercise is the plank, so we are going to look at testing core strength using the plank.
All dancers and athletes need to have strong core muscles. These are muscles that work to stabilize the entire body and include the transverse abdominals, erector spinae, the obliques, and the lower lats.
The objective of testing core muscle strength is to monitor the development of the abdominal and lower back muscles. To undertake this core strengthening exercise and test you will need:
A flat surface on which to work
How To Go About Testing Core Strength
Testing core strength can be done as follows:
Position your watch on the ground where you can see it easily.
Assume the basic press-up position as you see in the picture above. For more of a challenge, you can go down onto your elbows.
Hold the position for 60 seconds.
Lift your right arm off the ground.
Hold this position for a further 15 seconds.
Return your right arm to the ground and lift your left arm off the ground.
Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Return your left arm to the ground and lift the right leg off the ground.
Hold for 15 seconds.
Return your right leg to the ground and lift your left leg off the ground.
Hold for a further 15 seconds.
Lift your left leg and right arm off the ground.
Hold this position for 15 seconds.
Return your left leg and right arm to the ground.
Lift your right leg and left arm off the ground.
Hold this position for 15 seconds.
Return to the basic press up position and hold for a further 30 seconds.
Analysis of Core Strength
If you were able to complete this test, then it indicates you have good core strength.
If you were unable to complete the test then repeat the routine 3 or 4 times a week until you can.
If core strength is poor then the torso will move unnecessarily during motion and waste energy.
Good core strength indicates that the athlete or dancer can more with high efficiency.testing
If you are asking ‘how do I jump higher in my dancing,’ then I have some tips for you taken from male ballet dancers that just seem to soar through the air so effortlessly.
The aim when you do grande allegro in ballet is to look as if you are flying for an instant. It’s an illusion, but it does take lots of practice as well as strong leg and core muscles.
When doing a grand jete for example as the girl above is demonstrating, you need to actually open your legs out in the air again once you are mid-flight in order to stay in the air a little longer and to give the illusion of flying.
So How Do I Jump Higher?
For all the grand allegro in ballet the plie is very important, but if you want to get high off the ground you really need to get down as much as you can before you take off.
If you ask a non-ballet person to jump as high as they can, they will bend in their legs and let their hips go back before taking off into the air.
In ballet, we are trained not to let the hips sink back, but unfortunately that is the only way that you are going to get any significant height into your jump.
You can sink into the hips, but then at the very bottom of that sink, you must immediately throw your whole body, which includes your hips, legs, torso, head, toes and fingertips into the air. The magic must happen in the immediacy and the quickness of the push, and you must try to get to the top of your jump as quickly as possible.
It helps to focus all your energy into the muscles that are pushing you into the jump, so you really need to concentrate with focused energy on the whole leg that is pushing you into the air.
This must show a lot of attack and must be aggressive in its approach.
When you first try this way of jumping, you won’t be able to control your landings. If you can then you are obviously not pushing off the floor hard enough or strong enough.
The next trick is this. Once you are up in the air, don’t come down. Try to live up there for a little while, as this is where the magic happens.
We can make the audience think we are defying gravity by holding the jumping position in the air a bit longer than we think we can.
Don’t jump and then think about landing straight away. You have more time in the air than you think you do, and the floor is not as close as it seems. You need to challenge yourself to go beyond your comfort level and you will be amazed at what you can achieve up there.
Another neat trick that a dancer can use in her quest on ‘how can I jump higher,’ is to lower the eye line and head slightly before take-off and then lift them both sharply on the push off of the floor. If you can get this coordination working, then the look of the jump will appear higher.
“An excellent foundation into the key principles of strength, speed, and power.
Clear and descriptive writing, with an abundance of diagrams showing all exercises and muscle groups.
Easy to understand, practical, non-limiting, and functional in respect to varying sports and lifestyles.”
More Tips For How Do I Jump Higher:
Use your feet fully. Leave the floor heel, ball, toe and land toe, ball, heel.
Experiment with breathing. Sometimes it helps to breathe out as you alight and in as you come down. Try it both ways and see what works for you.
Make your jump work with the music you are dancing to by listening to the timing and the tempo.
Imagine a harness lifting you and supporting you from your pelvic floor as you take off.
Relax your shoulders, arms and neck as many dancers seem to tense this area up as they take off.
Core muscles must be strong and activated throughout your jump.
Tips For Teachers:
Never underestimate the importance of taking them back to the bar. Here they can do a series of quick jumps and releves. Make sure they keep their weight on the balls of their feet and their knees over their toes as they come down. Repetition with good alignment helps develop the muscles correctly.
Do many slow releves and quick releves at the bar to strengthen the feet and legs.
Simple things like chasses into jumps, and skips help prepare your students for more complex leaps later on.
Let them do petit allegro with their hands behind their heads and they will get a better feel where the power is coming from that allows them to get off the ground.
Use imagery in your teaching, like ‘hover like and eagle,’ or ‘take flight,’
Let them do vertical jumps a lot in order to improve the height of their traveling jumps.
In finishing, I know this is not what you want to hear, but there are no secrets to jumping. It is just a matter of hard work and a combination of proper alignment and solid technique.
The only other secret to how do I jump higher is practice, practice, and practice some more!
It is amazing what ballet floor barre exercises can achieve.
I always hear examiners stating in courses we attend “when in doubt take it to the floor.”
While ballet dancing has evolved quite a lot over recent years, it is mostly danced upright and as far away from the floor as possible.
Modern dance, however, has always had a lot of floor work, and I must add that this floor work can be very beneficial for ballet dancers as well.
If you are teaching and you notice that something looks awful, or notice that the student isn’t quite understanding where in space his or her body is, then it can be very beneficial to take that exercise onto the floor.
Ballet floor bar exercises can help dancers to feel exactly what muscles they should be using, and where exactly their bones should be placed in space, without the added pressure of having to hold the position in an upright stance.
I for one have had lots of ah-ha moments on the floor, like wow I can feel my back working, or ok so that’s how I take my leg to second without distorting my hip line.
Teachers shouldn’t underestimate the value of ballet floor bar exercises. The wonderful thing about working on the floor is that the dancer is taught how to gain control over his or her limbs and body.
Ballet floor bar exercises are also great for dancers with injuries or who need strengthening in certain areas.
Even taking something as simple as a port de bras lying on your back can teach you how to use your muscles in different ways. Simply by taking the fight against gravity away from the equation, one can feel which muscles are working in your back and how the shoulders have to pull down the dancers back as the arms go up.
So teachers, even though you are often pushed for time, try to incorporate more ballet floor bar exercises into your class, and you could ultimately save yourself time in the long run, as your student’s technique will improve, allowing you more time to work on the choreography.
The Advantages Of Ballet Floor Bar Exercises
Here are just a few to start off with:
To develop a much stronger sense of muscle awareness.
To understand how to engage the muscles in the correct way.
To make connections on initiating of certain movements using certain muscle groups.
The strength developed helps with their stretching
Fewer injuries and fewer aches and pains.
Balance is improved.
Core muscles become more engaged.
Acceleration of dancers strength and technique.
There are many methods (as you can see below) when it comes to using ballet floor barre exercises in class, and if you are wanting to accelerate your dancer’s technique in a safe and proven manner, floor work is an excellent choice.
While it would be wonderful to have a lot of time and be able to devote entire classes on a regular basis to ballet floor barre exercises, in most cases it simply isn’t doable.
But all is not lost, if you have students who are struggling in particular areas, giving them an extra set of exercises to do in their own time is highly beneficial.
So next time you see your dancers muscles not working as they should, take it to the floor and watch that clean technique start to unveil.
What Ballet Floor Barre Exercises Are Good To Use On My Students
If you have never tried any ballet floor barre exercises, you could start off by taking something that your students do at the bar and transfer it to the floor.
A great example is to take developes for instance and do them devant and a la seconde lying on your back, concentrating on posture and hip lines. You could then take them derriere lying on your stomach.
Grande ronds de jambe en l’air also works wonders done like this as your dancers will really be able to understand how their hips should be placed while executing the exercise.
Sitting on the floor and working with a straight back with the legs in front of you is a great way to get that core working and feeling where your turnout should be coming from.
Great Products to Help You
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Read on to discover exactly what you need to do to cure bow legs once and for all, and enjoy perfectly straight and attractive legs for the rest of your life!
This is my take on Bow Legs No More
Click Here! to find out how you can obtain the product for yourself.
I was searching the net for exercises to correct bow legs and came across this very helpful EBook called Bow Legs No More.
I decided to purchase the book because I wanted to see if it would give me some more useful advice on how to help my students who suffer from this defect. I was actually quite amazed to read that there were exercises that one could do to correct bow legs, and I was intrigued. The Ebook, Bow Legs No More, is a quick read because it is only 40 pages long, and I must say that the exercises that they have given are not what you would expect, and not difficult at all to master.
Sarah Brown is the author of this book, and she claims to have improved the shape of her bow legs using the techniques that she describes in her book.
Bow legs are actually quite a common thing to see, although not all cases are as extreme as the pictures above. Maybe I just notice it more because I am a ballet teacher and look at legs all day for a living.
Bow Legs No More claims that there are exercises that you can do to correct bow legs or even cure bow legs, but they do warn that it is not going to be a walk in the park or a quick fix.
If you are willing to stick to a training program over a period of time, there is no need to go to the extent of having surgery as your bow legs will definitely improve. You may have even found the answer to cure bow legs.
When I read this I was all ears!
The training exercises in the course are not difficult, but like anything you need to make a habit of doing them regularly.
It is a gradual and gentle process of easing the joints back to where they should be. Because joints are sensitive, they should always be treated with care and never manipulated harshly.
Because the exercises in this course are gentle, they need to be done on a regular basis in order to see an improvement over time.
Because the changes are gradual, it is suggested that you take a photograph of your legs before you start so that you can see the improvement over time and stay motivated to do the exercises.
Who Should Get This EBook?
Most of these exercises are not designed to be done by people with straight legs, so make sure you do have bow legs to correct before you purchase the course.
If you have any of the following concerns, then this may be just the eBook you have been searching for.
Do you suffer from bow legs or knock knees?
Are you self-conscious about your malformed legs?
Has the condition been affecting your confidence and self-esteem?
Are you fed up of being embarrassed by your legs, and just want to be the same as everyone else?
Have you always wondered if there was something you could do to straighten your bow legs or knock knees, which didn’t involve taking on the risks and expense of surgery?
Are you worried that by not doing anything about your condition now might lead to joint-related problems, like arthritis, in the future?
What Causes Bow Legs?
Bow legs can be the result of many different things, including:
A bone fracture that has been set incorrectly (if this is the case, you should go and get a surgeon to reset the bone)
A child being put into a walker before the legs are strong enough to handle it
Other bad habits developed when you were younger, like the way that you stood
Are Bow Legs Bad For Your Health?
Yes and no, depending on the extent of the deformity. Unfortunately, if your bow legs are extreme, you could damage other joints in your body over time, including the knees, hips, and spine. This happens because your posture is affected and over time bad posture can affect your entire skeletal system.
Are All Bow Legs Build The Same?
No. There are two different Bow Leg types:
With the x-curvature, the tops of the thighs press together while from below the knees the legs splay outwards. It is virtually impossible for this person to put their feet together without having to bend the knees first.
With the o-curvature, the whole leg splays out from the hips and then only join together at the feet again. This creates a diamond shaped gap between the legs when the feet are placed together.
There are also exercises which help to tone and add shape to the legs, as most people who have bow legs also have very thin legs.
My Verdict On Bow Legs No More
I felt the book was very well written and the exercises are explained well with diagrams.
I can’t say at this early stage whether or not the exercises work or not to cure bow legs, but looking at them they do make sense and I am sure that if used over time there can only be an improvement in the shape of the legs.
I am glad that I bought the book and am looking forward to trying out some of these exercises on my students who have problems and would like to cure Bow Legs on themselves.
To find out how you can obtain your copy of Bow Legs No More, click here.
To read more on Hyperextended Knees, which is very common in people with bow legs, click here.
The human hip area is complex and lots can go wrong if not careful, so here I have looked at hip problems in dancers.
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, and together with intricate sets of ligaments offers a ballet dancer tremendous range of motion, and at the same time also withstands great wear and tear. The hip is one of the most elegant parts of the body if you take it from an engineers perspective.
The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, and together with intricate sets of ligaments offers a ballet dancer tremendous range of motion, and at the same time also withstands great wear and tear. The hip is one of the most elegant parts of the body if you take it from an engineers perspective.
There is, of course, the occasional price to be paid for all that beautiful motion that your hips afford you. There might be occasional hip problems in dancers because of strain on the hip ligaments, or more frequently the muscles in the hip area. Some ballet dancing movements can create imbalances in the hip area.
There is always differences in the strength and elasticity of the muscles in the hip and the most common conditions amongst ballet dancers include snapping hip syndrome and various other ailments.
Some ballet dancing movements can create imbalances in the hip area. There is always differences in the strength and elasticity of the muscles in the hip and the most common conditions amongst ballet dancers include snapping hip syndrome and various other ailments.
Common Hip Problems In Dancers
Snapping Hip Syndrome:
Snapping hip syndrome originates in the tight tendons in front of the hips. These tight tendons can cause the tendon over the hip joint to snap and this often makes a clicking sound. If this happens to you, you may notice tenderness or pain across the front of the hip. There will also be a pinching pain in your knees if you bring them up to your chest. Developes (unfolding of the leg) may be painful to perform.
To prevent this happening in your ballet dancing, the hip flexors and all the abductors will need to be gradually stretched and strengthened. In your ballet dancing, your torso must be correctly aligned by not overarching the lower back or tucking under. Don’t sink into the hip while standing on one leg, or hike up the hip of the working leg. Twisting the pelvis and forcing positions is also asking for trouble.
If you have pain over the side of your hip, you could be suffering from trochanteric bursitis. This is an inflammation of the trochanteric bursa and is a common cause of hip pain in ballet dancers. The trochanteric bursa lies underneath the attachment of the broad flat bone of the femur and serves to cushion and reduce friction between the bones, tendons, and muscles.
Causes of trochanteric bursitis could be from overuse or structural imbalances in the pelvic area. Treatment will normally involve lessening the workload, and stretching and strengthening the affected areas.
Iliacus Tendonitis / Iliopsoas Syndrome:
If you have pain in the front of your hip area near your groin, you could be diagnosed with iliacus tendonitis or iliopsoas syndrome. This is common amongst younger dancers and affects the iliacus muscle at the lower portion of the iliopsoas muscle at the front of the hip.
This condition is also from overuse and increased emphasis on hip flexion and internal rotation, so it affects modern dancers more often. Anti-inflammatory medication can assist with reducing the swelling along the tendon. The ballet dancer may also need to strengthen and correct muscle imbalances, so advice from a physical therapist or athletic trainer may be well worth while.
Again, when it comes to hip problems in dancers, prevention is always better than cure, so dancer must at all costs look after their bodies to guard against injuries.