Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ballet Warm Up Exercises For Your -Position To The Front

If you are a beginner in ballet classes, adult ballet classes, or with a cheer leading team, safe stretching is an important factor in your training. Following are some safe easy at home stretches with which you can become more flexible. Whatever aspect of ballet/sports/fitness you participate in, these stretches will help for ballet warm up exercises.

Being able to kick, or lift your leg to the front, side, and back, enables you to move more freely and maybe eventually do the splits. You need a daily routine of stretches to become more flexible. You also need to understand a few principles of working safely.

Don't skip a warm up. If you haven't had a class or any other kind of exercise on a day where you decide to stretch, walk on the spot for at least five minutes, swinging and moving your arms freely. This will boost your metabolism and get your muscles a little warm.

For becoming more flexible to the front position, you need to engage your core muscles and lengthen the hamstring muscle(s) that run from your butt bone to the areas around your knee. There are two ways I recommend for this. If you are not able to lift or kick your leg to the front without the movement causing a change in the position of your hips, here's a great exercise. Stand in front of a chair. Lift one leg up and place it on the chair. Bend the standing leg, keeping your pelvis upright and your back straight. If you feel tension down the back of the leg on the chair, stop there. Very slowly lean forward, back still straight. You may only move a quarter of an inch, this doesn't matter. Don't let your back round. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds. That's your stretch. No bouncing or pulsing. Release up a little, then repeat. Change legs. As you get used to this you can do more repetitions on each leg. You want a stretchy feeling, but not pain.

You will feel a place where the muscles will let go a little, allowing more of a stretch. This is the "stretch reflex".

If you can already easily lift or kick the leg to over 90 degrees, or above your hip height, you can put your leg up on a ballet barre or counter top, keeping your hips facing to it. Maintaining a straight pelvis/back, lean over the leg slightly, while pressing the leg down. Hold 15-30 seconds. At some point you will feel the stretch reflex, maybe not on the first repetition. Do the same number of reps on each leg.

After a class or workout is an ideal time to stretch, but sometimes that's not possible. Always warm up for safe stretching.

With these ballet stretches, you will become more flexible for your ballet moves or cheer leading choreography.

Get more ballet warm up exercises, with the fast download The Ballet Bible.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Avoid Knee Pain And Understand Overpronation With Flat Feet

How To Avoid Knee Pain

Over-pronation is the inward roll of the foot while standing, walking, running or dancing. Allowing the foot to roll inwards causes noticeable internal rotation of the lower leg and knee and can influence the body's posture. This can result in extra strain on the lower body and can cause foot pain of the arches, heels and ankles, knee pain, leg pain, and lower back pain. A ballet student only needs to understand this, and can correct flat feet by developing the sole of the foot muscles.


Studying ballet without correcting pronation can lead to
  • Knee pain
  • Shin splints
  • Arch pain
  • Overall tension in the lower leg

Flat feet may be flexible and may show a curve when pointed, but on the floor, they still need to be supported properly.

Rolling ankles, with the lower leg internally rotating inwards, and the thighs turning out, can eventually lead to a twisting of the knee joint with irritation, inflammation, and pain.

Excess wear on the inner sides of the street shoes, is an obvious sign of over-pronation.

If you can get a parent or a fellow dance student to take a picture of your flat feet standing in parallel, (from the back) you'll see if you are rolling in from the heel, with your arches mushed on the floor.

See if your heels lean inwards and if your kneecaps turn inwards while standing.

This would be in a relaxed position, not holding your thighs in any particular way.
You'll see that if you then turn out, your feet may adjust somewhat, with the heels pulling up straighter, and the arches maybe lifting a little. This will definitely help avoid a knee injury.

However, holding your turnout is not enough to correct this. Also, just lifting the arches up by rolling outward is not a good correction.

Locating and strengthening the tiny foot muscles (demonstrated in The Perfect Pointe Book)is your best bet to not compensate for flat feet in the wrong ways and then send the feet's workload up into the calf and shin muscles.

If you already have ankle, lower leg or knee pain, see a chiropractor, physiotherapist or a podiatrist. You may need orthotics (supportive shoe inserts) and even a heel counter (an insert in the heel of your shoe that stabilizes your heel position) in your street shoes. This heel counter should fit well to prevent extra movement and twisting ankles.

Morton’s foot (big toe shorter than second) can cause a slight roll inward when the foot moves upward to rise or take off for a jump. Even though weight goes off the foot in many of these movements, just try counting how often in a class that happens - and imagine the uneven pressure on the feet muscles and bones.

Having the weight spread evenly from the center of the heel, big toe joint and little toe joint, is your foundation. It gives the level base, just like the platform a house is built on, for your skeleton to stack up above.

Understanding flat feet, overpronation, and the possibility of foot/calf/shin/knee sprain, will help you prevent dance injuries.

THE PERFECT POINTE BOOK will help you avoid knee pain.