Correction of alignment in athletes using dance principles.
Correct posture refers to the alignment of the bones in relation to the joints for the purpose of maximising flow and minimising obstructions.
I acknowledge from my dancing that cross-training (ie dance with yoga, abs-blast, plyometric exercises etc) is needed to train a dancer in all physical aspects which aid their performance. The warm up is the best place to assess body types and to build in key dance aspects which apply to all sports. There is a link to my practitioner enquiry here!!!!!!
I liken bodies to rivers!!! Just go with this, I am on dancer imagery!! I feel a link to Jamie’s giraffe that we built in the second RCS workshop is also needed here!!!
Blood like water in a river and flows throughout every part of our body. If there are sharp bends in the river, it slows down; if the river straightens, there is less resistance and the flow increases. By paying attention to how our bones are stacked on top of each other (alignment), we can minimise the number of bends in the body and thereby facilitate free-flowing movement.
In a class warm up I aim to achieve four things:
1.To increase blood flow to the major organs and the main muscles I will use in the lesson. Increasing the heart rate causes blood containing oxygen and nutrients to circulate. The body activities must be increased gradually so that the heart rate reaches 70% of its maximum.
2. To use movement encourages breathing first to prevent participants holding onto stresses of any kind either in their bodies or mind. I usually begin with a big breath in and out with arms raising up to stretch out the body so that oxygen gets in and then out as the body releases. I tell dancers where to breath in and out in warm up stretches and releases. They will tell you I ask ‘are you breathing? at random intervals through out the lesson. I use my chatter and questions to make participants smile or answer which also obviously causes them breath.
3. To align the body and raise awareness of body positioning. One important reason for maintaining correct alignment from the top of the head at the crown down to the perineum, at the start of practice is that all the energetic meridians and centres are linked along the midline of the body. Maintaining alignment facilitates free-flowing movement from the core and a flowing current between the head and feet.
4. To benefit from the effect of release. In order to hold great structural alignment, the muscles must relax to allow the bones to hold themselves in place using minimal effort. Relaxing the muscles entails an active command from the mind to release tension and releasing muscular tension also implies letting go of emotional and mental tension. When the entire body is relaxed, our true nature is allowed the freedom of expression. That means we are ready to dance. For example, dancers often hold tension in the shoulders. One of the rules of posture requires the dancer to drop the shoulders (release the tension in the trapezius by lifting the shoulders to the ears and releasing them very slightly back). Participants who for example had a stressful day are more likely to have raised their shoulders and created tension which will work in a chain of events through their body. To fully relax the shoulders and consequently prevent ensuing chain of events which could lead to injury, the mental and emotional tension that put them there in the first place also needs to be released. I regularly say ‘leave the troubles at the door and pick them up when my class is over!!’ I recognise that external influences, including physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental influences, have a real energetic charge that can be associated with specific parts of the body. In exercises, I work through the body from the head to the feet. I build to a raised pulse rate. I also chatter away trying to gain the confidence of and relax participants and ultimately focus them on the exercises in a positive way. When we are on guard, we tend to hold the muscular pattern that goes with that attitude. I aim to have engaged learners and nurtured in them the confidence to release and fall naturally into proper alignment, is good for their mental wellbeing but means they are ready to dance.
The ‘dance ready’ giraffe
(NB: The diagram does not show an aligned giraffe!)