Saturday, March 14, 2009

Each Ballet Barre Exercise Gets You Closer to Dancing in Pointe Shoes

In the first couple of years dancing ballet, every little girl dreams of dancing in pointe shoes. Those students who have a good ability to concentrate have a head start at getting into pointe shoes with a better ballet technique.

The better the foot muscles are trained, the better the whole leg functions. And the better your first pair of pointe shoes will feel.

For example, correct battments tendus with less than half a dozen exercises for the foot muscles will prepare feet for dancing ballet in pointe shoes.

Whether a ballet student is six years old, or is an adult ballet beginner between twenty and sixty years old, the first ballet lessons are extremely important.

Beginning ballet is very simple, as far as barre exercises go. The need for understanding and accuracy of ballet positions and ballet movements cannot be stated enough.

A teacher who believes she must make a class fancy and entertaining in some way, or too complicated, in order to challenge students or make them feel they're really doing something, is sacrificing any real achievement in later intermediate or advanced classes.

Varying the combinations in early ballet exercises, and introducing different musical rhythms keeps class interesting and challenging. If students understand what they are trying to do, they are mentally busy with the simplest of barre exercises.

If young or adult beginner ballet students understand correct posture, correct turnout and correct weight placement on their feet, not a lot will go wrong as they progress through their ballet class.

Any ballet dancer ten years old or older can investigate how ballet is somewhat anatomically incorrect and solve the mysteries of why "I just can't do it!".

Taking advantage of the available analysis of arabesque or examining how the core muscles are needed in ballet (including correct turnout) can save years of frustration at the ballet barre.

So what does this all have to do with how to progress faster and better toward dancing ballet in pointe shoes? Your ability to concentrate on your basic ballet barre exercises and your ability to find the information you need can be completely accessible! 

When you don't understand why YOUR body will not do a ballet movement or ballet position as easily as someone else's, solving your unique problem is a big part of what will speed you toward your ballet goals.

Each correctly done ballet barre exercise gets you closer to dancing in pointe shoes.

Here's a video showing how to do correct rises, and how to strengthen the pertinent muscles. Good for late starters in ballet too!

Here is more about using the resistance band to get ready for dancing in pointe shoes!

The Perfect Pointe Book has many ballet tips for strengthening your feet. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Get Really Flexible For Adult Beginner Ballet Classes

If you're planning to enroll for adult beginner ballet classes, there are two very safe stretches that you can do before you learn anything about ballet.

You can do these every day and continue them once you start ballet lessons. (described below).

Even if you never carry through with dance classes, learn these anyway as they will help to avoid back pain.

And if you dance, get really flexible with Essentrics Flexibility For Athletes

Why is back pain so common among adults? Even among adults with no history of injury or back strain, low back pain especially can become a chronic problem, mild or severe. You need back flexibility exercises and leg and hip exercises.

As you age, your flexibility decreases. Your long muscles that allow a certain range of motion, get shorter.

Your joints begin to lose their range of motion, and the ligaments that hold bone to bone begin to lose their strength.

 Similar to an elastic band aging and getting less elastic. However, your ligaments and muscles will not just fall apart one day like an old elastic band.

You will start to feel pain as you continue to try and move and do all the things you are used to doing. You depend on the muscles at the front of your body, the muscles across your chest and shoulders, and the muscles at the front of your spine and hips, for a lot of every day motions.

You particularly lose flexibility in these muscles from sitting at a desk, typing and staring at a computer monitor, or similar sedentary inactivity.

Loosening up these muscles is all you need to do. Ligaments do not need to be stretched - in fact, joint stability depends on their integrity.

Two easy stretches that will help you avoid back pain.

Done correctly, you may find some aches and pains that you already have will disappear. Healthy muscles are relaxed, and can stretch when you need them to, for daily activities.

My chiropractor calls this 'the doorway stretch'. Standing in a doorway, place the palm of your hand against the door jamb, above shoulder level, so that your arm is bent at a 90-degree angle, and your armpit is right against the door jamb.

Press your hand and arm into it. Slowly press forward increasing the stretch, not to a point of any pain, just a stretchy feeling. Hold for about a ten count. Repeat with the other arm.

You are stretching muscles that routinely tense, especially if you are not sitting with your hips against the back of your chair, your spine upright in its natural curve, head held straight, neck relaxed.

 And of course your monitor, keyboard, mouse, arm rests are all ergonomically placed perfectly. I know! Who sits like that?

Allowing these muscles to retain more and more tension without relief, will pull on your neck muscles, upper back muscles and lead to headaches and neck and shoulder pain. Now you can reverse that trend.

An exercise that stretches hip flexors.

For your low back and hip area: stand with feet together, and take a long step forward. Keep your hips and low back upright, and place your hands on your hips so you can feel it if your posture changes.

Bend your back leg slowly, lowering into a runner's lunge, not uncomfortably deep. You will feel the stretch at the front of your hips.

The posture muscles at the front of your spine will get this stretch as well, and also the front of your back thigh. Hold for a 10 count, and switch legs.

It's best to stretch after a hot bath or shower or after exercising.

In a dance studio, before a class, you will see dancers sitting on the floor in stretch positions, or maybe with their legs on the barre in a stretched ballet position.

They are not really stretching, they are just checking their positions and loosening up a little. So don't copy what ballet dancers do before class. You'll see them really go at it after a 45 minute barre, or at the end of a class.

For those who have had an injury or who are experiencing any sharp or burning back muscle pains, see your health care practitioner before trying these exercises.

If you try ballet as an adult beginner and later opt for another style of workout, keep up these two very healthy exercises. And get your DVD "Essentrics Flexibility For Athletes.

D. Buxton is a writing partner with Vone Deporter, of The Sedona Series, about a surfer girl in pointe shoes.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Breaking Tiny Foot Bones and Getting Back Into Pointe Shoes

Ballet dancers and other athletes can develop shallow cracks, or stress fractures in their tiny foot bones. Inaccurate training, a suddenly increased practice schedule, badly fitting pointe shoes, or a change in flooring can cause this type of dance or sports injury.

These injuries must be treated properly if you want to be getting back into pointe shoes as soon as possible.

The bones that commonly break from stress are in the forefoot, the section that extends from your toes to the middle of your foot. These tiny cracks do not extend through the bone, like most other types of fractures.

They are typically stable, meaning no shift in bone alignment is caused. Nor do they displace bones so that the bone ends no longer line up.

Stress fractures often look like dark bruises. If the bone hasn't twisted and broken your skin, you might not suspect anything more than a bruising. This is referred to as a closed fracture.

The little toe, or fifth metatarsal seems to be an especially vulnerable area. Loss of control in pointe shoes such as a sharp fall off pointe with the weight twisting over to the outer edge of the foot (sickling in) may tear the tendon that attaches to this bone which results in a small piece of the bone pulling away.

A Jones fracture is a fairly serious injury. It occurs near the base of the little toe bone and interferes with the blood supply to the bone. This injury may even require surgery to heal correctly.

Pain, swelling, and often, discoloration, are the usual symptoms of a fracture in the foot. You may still be able to walk, but this usually increases the pain. If the pain and swelling do not significantly decrease in two or three days, or if the pain with walking doesn't stop, you should assume something is wrong.

See a doctor! Don't wait to get a diagnosis and treatment.

You want to avoid developing chronic foot pain and arthritis. This could eventually distort the way you walk.

Your body will always figure out how to compensate for a painful or weak area, but not in a way that will support ballet dancing or athletic training. The solution will become another problem.

Use an ice pack to reduce the pain and swelling, and put your foot up and rest. Wrap your ice pack so it doesn't touch your skin. Ice frequently, but not more than twenty minutes at a time.

Your doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist will see you through rehabilitation.

Even though you may feel extremely anxious about getting back into pointe shoes, be patient with your tiny foot bones.

 Study The Perfect Pointe Book to prevent dance injuries.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How to Tell What Makes You Fat

If you are a ballet dancer, or thinking of becoming a ballerina or a man in ballet, or any other style of dancer, you have probably not escaped the thought of what can make you fat. This one thought in and of itself is an occupational hazard in the realm of dance training. So how do you tell what makes you fat?

The idea that eating fats will make you fat is a basic mistake. For most people, excess insulin makes them fat and not the fat itself. Where does excess insulin come from? At what age are you susceptible to be cursed with excess insulin?

Whether you are ten years old or an adult, you need to understand what the glycemic index is. It's not too difficult a thing to learn. You eat carbohydrates, meaning starches such as bread, crackers, rice, corn and potatoes. These foods release sugars into our system and keep our bodies going. Processed carbohydrates, like cereal from boxes, flour products, candy bars, power bars, digest as sugars that get dumped into your bloodstream fairly quickly. In fact, the higher a food resides on the glycemic index, the faster it will release its sugars. In order to regulate your insulin levels, make sure that you are eating foods from the lower end of the glycemic. This pretty well eliminates fast foods and junk foods.

Complex carbohydrates such as multi-grain sprouted breads, beans and legumes, as examples, are foods that are not processed. They are left alone to be eaten as nature made them. They are full of vitamins and minerals and digest with the sugars releasing more slowly into your system. This requires less insulin to regulate the sugar levels in your blood.

When you eat processed carbohydrates that transform quickly into sugars, more insulin is needed to regulate your blood sugar. Eventually your body gets used to the high insulin levels, and ignores the insulin. This is called insulin resistance. Once you advance into this stage of metabolism, it is much easier to gain weight, and much harder to lose weight.

A couple of decades ago, this was considered a middle-aged condition, or an elderly condition, leading to Adult Onset Diabetes. Not any more!

Notice the word fat has nothing to do with any of this!

You may have heard someone lamenting "I have slow metabolism, so I cannot stay thin!". This is a result of eating the wrong sugars, not from eating fat. White sugar used to be the no-no. Now it is high fructose corn syrup, which overwhelms our bodies and makes us crave more carbs. Even worse, the calorie-free artificial sweeteners also make us crave carbs!

Is this some kind of trap?

Let's get back to fats, which are present in fresh, unprocessed, real foods made by nature. Meats, fish, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dairy products, eggs, and oils. FATS!

"Essential fatty acids, in a ratio of two (omega 3) to one (omega 6) and at levels of about twelve to fifteen percent of total caloric intake, increase the rate of metabolic reaction in the body. This increased rate burns more fat into carbon dioxide, water and energy (heat), which results in fat burn-off and a loss of excess weight." - Udo Erasmus, author of "Fats That Heal Fats That Kill".

You mean you can eat food that "results in fat burn-off and a loss of excess weight"? That is what this, and other doctors such as Al Sears, state. Dr Atkins of the Atkins Diet fame spread the same information.

For ballet and other dancers who need a high energy supply, regeneration of muscle mass on a daily basis, and endurance for performances, it is good to know how to tell what makes you fat, and what makes you strong. Stay well! Read more on healthy omega oils.