Sunday, June 1, 2008

Professional Footwork, Muscle Memory For Ballet, and Neural Pathways

Improve your ballet dancing and pointe work, and even your tennis footwork. Tennis players learn ballet to refine their professional footwork, too. By understanding the part of the foot in finely reflexive movement, you will prevent muscle exhaustion in the lower leg. Muscle memory will be precise, and your neural pathways will be well built for all that ballet traffic.

The finer details for strong pointe work starts in your first ballet classes, years before most students progress to dancing in pointe shoes. If you are an adult late starter in ballet, this information will help you get ahead. Here are some items to review that pertain to you building strength:

1. The foot bearing the body weight, on flat and in demi plie, in a tripod balance of between the ball of the foot, the point between the little toe and fourth toe, and the heel;

2. The intrinsic muscles of the foot being strengthened so as not to exhaust the calf and tibial (shin) muscles. This allows the foot muscles to be capable of, for example, pressing up to full pointe, pressing back down to demi pointe and back up to full pointe for at least 8 repetitions before getting exhausted. And in turn, this creates a controlled and soft descent from pointe into demi plie or flat.

3. Keeping the toes long in soft shoes and pointe shoes, not buckled;

4. Always having the ankles in a straight line, never sickling out the supporting feet for the curved line dancers like in a working foot;in other words always being on the center of the foot in demi pointe, and fully on the platforms of the pointe shoes;

5. Getting exactly the right fit and type of pointe shoes so the feet are not fighting the shoes: this includes toe levelers or spacers if needed. Avoid dancing in pain!

I have to mention that the correct postural plumb line and turnout must be maintained, or the foot and ankle muscles will be exhausted and over compensating, fighting for balance. So dancing ballet in pointe shoes is a full body workout!

Consider a healthy diet to support your training. Healthy fats and oils must not be avoided. Omega 6/omega 3 balance is vital. These oils naturally help strengthen cell membrane integrity, repair cellular and tissue damage, help optimize neurological transmission and brain function, help improve heart and circulatory function, and ( a wonderful bonus anyone would want) help produce supple, moist skin. These oils also help in lubricating joints, and are anti-inflammatory - the exerciser's dream food.

Developing correct muscle memory and neural pathways is like building the best software program for your computer. Safe and agile movements become automated. This means you are much less likely to injure yourself if you are dancing on a day when you are tired or distracted.

Whether learning classical ballet or tennis, you can excel in professional footwork by understanding your brain and your feet. You can learn how to improve any aspect of your training.

If you would like to learn more about healthy oils read here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for submitting your post to "Take Charge of Your Health Care Carnival." Ballet is such a great exercise and it is fun too, and you get to practice to some beautiful music.

    As a pianist, I am very interested in the subject of muscle memory and neural pathways. It never stops to amaze me that I can perform intricate and quick finger work almost without thinking about it. How is the brain able to do this?