Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DAY 3 -- Chain Reactions in the Body

Last night I took a look at all of the documents the students completed up to this point (skeletal posture, muscular imbalances, heart rate, visioning questions toward goal setting....) and was able to see many trends and similarities among them.  Most students face issues of tight hip flexors, pronated (rolled in) ankle bones, lack of flexibility, and low endurance.  Most of their goals surround these challenges.  We began our class today by talking about three common chain reactions that occur in the body.  Sally Sevey Fitt does a wonderful job, in her book titled Dance Kinesiology, of going step by step to show how these chains occur and what kind of impact there is on other body parts.  We discussed three:
  1. Pronation of the tarsus (ankle bone)
  2. Leg length difference (leading to scoliosis)
  3. Tight hip flexors
As you can imagine, most students in our group (and most dancers in the field) experience resulting pain from one or more of these.  I think the students were surprised to see how a deviation in the ankle can affect the upper spine, or how a tight hip flexor can relate to hyperextension of the knee.  The pain we feel is not often the site of the problem.  

We took a look at how to strengthen and stretch these common pain spots and the muscles that tend to tense up or bulk (low back, quadriceps, gluteus maximus....) and we used a foam roller and some tennis balls to help create pressure on specific muscles. 
The pressure of rolling on a foam roller or tennis ball will help to increase blood flood and generate healing at the muscle site.  It may be painful (!) but it is worth it to keep the muscles from bulking or getting too tense to be able to move without pain or strain, especially while dancing.

For dancers, and runners/athletes, the I-T (ilio-tibial) band is one of the trouble spots.  It is a large connective tissue that runs along the side of the leg from the hip to the knee.  Any kind of movement uses this part of the body and it's important to take time to roll out the I-T band.  It can even cause knee pain. 
 We spent time doing a deep stretch for our hip flexors: on one knee while tucking the pelvis and shifting slightly forward -- you can drop your chin to your chest for an added stretch.  We massaged our calves while discussing proper care for achilles tendonitits, and did strengthening exercises for our hamstrings: laying on our back with feet flat on the floor, lift the pelvis up to the sky with either two feet on the floor or with one foot reaching straight up to the ceiling -- you can place your feet on a chair or physioball for added difficulty.

We are beginning to see that each body is different and has various challenges, strengths and conditioning needs.  The students were sent home with information on three body types and tomorrow we will take a look at the needs for each type of body, and how we can use this information to enhance our conditioning goals.   

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