It’s More Than Just the Steps
by Doctors for Dancers
We believe that dance is more than just the steps… especially if you want to be a professional dancer AND if you plan to have a long career.
A lot of injuries we hear about are due to over-usage. Believe it or not, there is such a thing of doing too much. I know we all thrive on the push, but at what cost?
Have you ever asked yourself:
How many days of the week am I dancing?
How many competitions am I doing a year?
How many intensives/conventions am I doing during the summer?
How many days do I give my body for rest and recovery?
How many classes other than dance am I taking?
In order to be a well-rounded dancer physically and mentally, cross-training classes like Yoga, Pilates, Strength and Conditioning, and Gyrotonics amongst many others are essential to overall health and growth of a dancer. Here are some reasons from our Dance Specialists on why it's important for you to implement these trainings into your regular dance regiment.
“Yoga for dancers is important because it teaches dancers how to work with their breath. It’s great for stress relief and for deepening the mind-body connection. It can unlock creativity too. Depending on how it’s taught, it can provide beautiful variety for a dancer’s movement diet, especially if core connection and stabilization elements are woven into the yoga.“- Bria Tavakoli, New York
The GYROTONIC Expansion System® is a movement system that utilizes the natural spirals existing within the body to lengthen and strengthen the spine, joints, tissues and nervous system for more ease and better function. It is a perfect complement to dance training. With its focus on the 3-dimensional movement of the body and an emphasis on the health of the spine and joints, a dancer will benefit from improving the strength of their current ROM, increase movement where they are limited, maintain fluidity in their fascia, load the parts of the body which are not worked as heavily. It’s dynamic strength training. We emphasize stability through contrast – a push-pull or opposition – that helps with grounding while finding lightness, a more qualitative aspect. We also use rhythmic breathing coupled with movement; dancers are good breath-holders and this work helps to create more dynamic and functional breathing. Finally, when dancers are injured they still need to move so as not to lose their conditioning; we can work around any injury and keep them “dancing.” – Dominika Gaines, Arizona
Pilates is respected in the Dance world as an effective conditioning method for dancers.
It emphasizes similar components that are taught in Dance Technique: Posture, Breath, Core Strength, Range of Motion, Spinal Articulation, Control, Strength, Precision, Poise, Proprioception, Balance, Stability, Pelvic Alignment, Scapular Stabilization, Rib Cage Alignment, and more. This gives the dancer the opportunity to fully understand what their dance teachers mean when they say ‘Close your ribs’, for example. Another key reason why Pilates is so beneficial is because of the eccentric contraction it provides. Lots of workouts focus on the concentric contraction only. Such as someone dropping the weight from a bicep curl with no control. Pilates requires precision, strength, and control through the entire range of motion. – Maria Haralambis, Michigan
STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING
“Strength and conditioning training has proven to play a vital role in improving the overall performance of dancers. Due to repetitive movements and the resulting stressors to the body that occur during classes/rehearsals/performances, it is extremely important that dancers implement strength and conditioning training in their weekly routines. This type of training provides benefits such as increased muscular endurance and strength, improved aerobic capacity, and increased power. Various components include dynamic warm-ups, plyometric drills, stability training, and corrective strengthening exercise. When the same muscle groups are overused and activated repeatedly while performing choreography, the opposing muscle groups are neglected which can lead to muscle imbalances. These muscle imbalances can put a dancer at a greater risk of injury. Initiating strength and conditioning will help ensure dancers can maintain their dance schedule injury-free.”- Michelle Troiano, New York
“I see so many dancers who struggle to improve their performance abilities and meet the high demands of dance. Through their struggles, they often face injury and discomfort as their body compensates its safety to execute a movement. When a dancer can develop an awareness of their body through strength training and condition for functional movements within the technique, they are expanding the possibility of what they can do in performances without considering the use of the right dancer shocks. All dancers would agree, it would be much easier and pleasing to work preventatively to care for the body as opposed to rehabilitating an injury and limiting participation in dance. I remember the days of dance managing and performance ending injury fondly, I don’t wish that heartache on any dancer.”- Brittany Cohen, New Jersey