Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Taking Advantage of the Brain Body Connection in Ballet/Sports/Fitness Training

Classical technique takes strong, long, lean muscles and a healthy brain. Ballet/sports/fitness goals are demanding and time consuming yet can be life's inspiration even on a recreational level. Understanding and using a natural posture of the spine in any style of dance classes actually supports healthy brain function, which in turn governs many chemical messenger processes that result in body strength and elegance and the enjoyment dancers and fitness buffs seek.

While dance techniques use a lengthening of the spine, it is never meant for the natural curves to straighten. The back of the neck curving inward, the upper back curving back outward, the small of the back curving inward and the sacrum curving outward again, are all minor but necessary shapes.

Dancers and other athletes focus on eating a good diet. They want stronger muscles as they develop advanced technical movements, strive to get into pointe shoes or aim for excellence in sports. Partnering in all styles of dance demands another level of technique and coordination, spatial awareness and sensitivity. What do the natural spinal curves and spinal (muscle, bone, nerve, discs) have to do with this?

The spinal canal is like the information highway of your body/brain connection. CSF (cerebro-spinal fluid) is pumped to the brain, carrying the necessary nutrients for effective functions. These brain functions cause physical, intellectual and emotional wellness to the degree that your nutrition is good, and to the degree that the CSF reaches the brain.

This pumping action is initiated by the movement of the sacrum (the lowest portion of the spine) and the cervical spine (neck). So free, easy movement of the low back and neck allow nutrients to get to your brain.

If this canal is dammed up with spinal compression due to muscle spasms, the spine being forced straight or even into a reversed curve (which happens most commonly in the neck), then what is needed in the brain may get there in vastly diminished amounts. Muscles that never relax enough will decrease in movement, and the pumping effect of the sacrum and neck will be less.

The chronic diminishment of oxygen and nutrients to the brain can lead to disease and degeneration, physically, intellectually and emotionally (or socially, if you prefer). An extreme example is an incident underwater where the brain is deprived of oxygen too long, leading to serious damage.

Many people, as well as athletes, have undetected spinal imbalance and misalignments (subluxations), as they engage in their everyday activities. Gradually, this CSF pumping mechanism decreases.

When nutrients do not reach the brain in the proper quantity and quality, the brain can atrophy, or shrink and lose function, even as young as 25 years old.

Another factor in brain health is the proper function of communication signals that take place within the spinal column, specifically in the brain stem and spinal cord. Overexertion involving poor placement of the spine would affect the signaling to secrete important glandular chemical hormones, which govern our organs and how well they function. These hormones and chemicals also govern our moods, our perceptions and our expectations of the future.

The spinal nerves going to our organs can get compressed, or "pinched", affecting heart, lung, stomach, liver, adrenal, and many more functions. And, in turn, the body would fail to process and metabolize the nutrition that it is fed. This is an ongoing degenerating cyclical process.

Proper understanding and execution of ballet/sports/fitness form, along with good rest and recovery, relaxation and stretching, (safe, motionless positions), enhances the brain/body connection. The fit get fitter and the unfit get weaker.

It is easy to get an evaluation by a chiropractor for proper spinal alignment and correction of spinal posture. Better to have one before a semester of training starts, or before class and rehearsal schedules intensify before ballet exams or performances. Why wait till something goes wrong with your precious brain/body connection.

Enjoy the abundance of anatomy, dance, strengthening and ballet stretches education at THE BODY SERIES.

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