Joyful Dance Laura Stanyer

Joyful Dance Laura Stanyer

Monday, 18 July 2011

Dance Fitness Conditioning Exercises

Guidelines for Conditioning Exercises

The postural muscles stabilise continuously throughout everyday activities and dancing therefore requires very good endurance. They do not need to be very strong, but they must be precisely co-ordinated and able to of work continuously. These stabiliser muscles should hold the lumbar spine in the neutral position, which is the correct alignment of the pelvis that allows for the natural 'S' curve of the spine. For further information please read the core stability article.
  • Warm up before engaging in conditioning exercises by raising the body temperature with light aerobic exercise
  • These exercises should be performed slowly and in a continuous manner
  • Breathing out on effort and breathe in as you release
  • Adopt the correct postural alignment for each exercise in enhances co-ordination of core stability
  • Lay on a mat in a clear space and use cushions for support if necessary
  • Wear loose comfortable clothing
Only perform the number of exercises which you feel confident with, always work at your own pace working within your own range of comfort. Remember breathing is important make sure to breathe freely throughout the exercises.

Engaging Transverse | Repeat up to 10 timesMuscles
Lying on your back with knees bent, feet on the mat in parallel position hip width apart. Lumbar spine should be in neutral alignment, have a small gap between the floor and your back. Breathe in deeply and relax all your stomach muscles. Breathe out and draw your lower abdomen inwards as if your navel is going back towards the floor (navel to spine). Hold the contraction for 10 seconds and stay relaxed, allowing yourself to breathe naturally as you hold the tension in your lower stomach area.Transverse Abdominus
Engaging Pelvic Floor | Repeat up to 10 timesMuscles
Lie on back knees bent, feet on the mat in parallel position hip width apart. Concentrate on the pelvic floor muscles. As your breathe out lift and squeeze at the front as if trying to stop the passage of urine and at the back as if stopping the passage of wind. Hold for 2 counts (increase the hold as you improve). Relax the muscles and breathe normally. Avoid: holding your breath, do not tighten your buttocks, thighs or abdominal complex.Pelvic floor muscles
Pelvic Tilt  Repeat up to 10 timesMuscles
Lie on back knees bent, feet on the mat in parallel position hip width apart. As you breathe out slowly tip your pelvis up towards your navel (north) by pulling the abdominal muscles in and flattening the hollow of the small of the back, then as you breathe in, rock or tilt the pelvis away from your navel (south) to increase the hollow in your lower back. Continue to breathe naturally throughout the exercise.Pelvic floor muscles: Psoas, Transverse and Abdominal Complex
Abdominal Curl  Repeat up to 10 timesMuscles
Lie on back knees bent, feet on the mat in parallel position hip width apart. Have your arms relaxed at your sides. With your transverse engaged (navel to spine), breathe out as you raise head and shoulders by leading from chest (sternum) towards your knees. As you breathe in keep your lower back still, bring them slowly down and relax.Rectus Abdominus
Advanced Abdominal Curl 
 * ADVANCED VERSION OF ABOVE EXERCISE *
Muscles
Lie on back with hips, knees bent at 90 degrees. Place arms across your chest. With your transverse engaged (navel to spine), breathe out as you raise head and shoulders by leading from chest (sternum) towards your knees. As you breathe in keep your lower back still, bring them slowly down and relax.Rectus Abdominus
Oblique Curl | Repeat 10 times on alternate sidesMuscles
Lie on back knees bent, feet on the mat in parallel position hip width apart. Have your arms relaxed at your sides. With your transverse engaged (navel to spine), breathe out as you raise head and shoulders by leading from chest (sternum) towards your knees, twist to the diagonal to one side. As you breathe in return to centre keep your lower back still, bring chest and head slowly down and relax. Repeat to the other side.Obliques, Internal & External
Knee to Chest Raise | Repeat 10 times on alternate sidesMuscles
Lying on your back with your knees bent feet on the mat in parallel position, hip width apart with your back in neutral. As you breathe out slowly lift your right knee to your chest, at the same time slowly slide your left leg out along the floor until it is straight. As you breathe in, slide your left leg back to its original position and relax right knee back to its original position. Continue to breathe naturally throughout the exercise. Repeat other side.Hip Flexors Abdominal Complex
Pelvic Roll | Repeat up to 10 timesMuscles
Lie on back knees bent, feet on the mat in parallel position hip width apart with your arms spread out on either side (or supporting under your lower back). Engage your abdominal muscles as you lift your legs together in the air, knees bent at 90 degrees. As you breathe out take both knees over to the right side (towards the ground that is comfortable for you) keep opposite shoulder on the mat. As you breathe in, return your knees to centre. Keeping your knees level at all times continue to take both knees to the left side breathing out once more and breathe in as you return to centre. With practice this movement is slow and continuous as you gently roll your knees from side to side.Lower back, Pelvic floor, Ilioposas, Internal and External Obliques, Transverse abdominal.
Alternative Pelvic Roll 
 * ALTERNATIVE VERSION OF ABOVE EXERCISE *
Muscles
Alternative: If you have lower back problems keep your feet on the floor. As you breathe in, slowly drop both knees to one side. Allow your knees to relax and go down without tension or force. Breathe in as you bring your knees back up to centre. Repeat to the other side.Lower back, Pelvic floor, Ilioposas, Internal and External Obliques, Transverse Abdominal
Gluteal Squeeze | Repeat up to 10 timesMuscles
Lie on the mat on your stomach and rest your head comfortably on your folded hands. As you breathe out tighten your buttock muscles. Hold that position for three seconds then relax and breathe naturally.Gluteus Maximus, Medius, Minimus
Cat Exercise | Repeat up to 10 timesMuscles
Kneel on the mat on all fours, weight equally distributed between your hands and knees. Arms shoulder width apart and legs hip width apart. Keep your head aligned with your neutral spine so that you are looking at the floor and engage your transverse (navel to spine). As you breathe out, slowly allow your trunk to sag as far as you can so that your back is lengthened into an arch position, do not pull down, but let your back relax.
Breathe in as you return back to neutral position. (Kneel on the mat on all fours, weight equally distributed between your hands and knees. Arms shoulder width apart and legs hip width apart. Keep your head aligned with your neutral spine so that you are looking at the floor and engage your transverse, navel to spine).
Then breathe out as you round your back up at the waist as far as you can by contracting your lower abdominal muscles. Visualise lengthening the spine rather than crunching your lumbar spine as you form a U shape. Lower the top of your head toward the floor. Breathe in as you return to neutral position.
Erector Spinae
(Trapezius, Latissmus dorsi, Quadratus Lumborum, Lower back, Abdominal Complex).

Exercises To Avoid

Abdominal Curls with hands pulling on neck
* DO NOT PERFORM THIS EXAMPLE *
Muscles
Avoid clasping your hands behind your head when performing abdominal curls. This will pull on your neck causing stress in the neck and upper back area.Safe alternative:
Abdominal Curl
Double Leg Lift * DO NOT PERFORM THIS EXAMPLE *Muscles
Avoid any kind of double leg lift. This is created to strengthen the abdominals. However, hip flexors and lower back muscles perform most of the work in a double leg lift. It also increases the pressure inside the intervertebral discs in the lumbar spine causing lower back pain. This can potentially increase the risk of slip disc in the lumbar spine.Safe alternative:
Abdominal Curl
Note: Always seek medical advice before attempting any new exercise programme and make sure the exercises are appropriate for you and your chosen dance style and schedule.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this web page is intended as general guidance and information only. Laura Stanyer and its authors accept no liability for any loss, injury or damage however incurred as a consequence, whether directly or indirectly, of the use this information. All advice on this web page should only be used under the supervision of a qualified dance / fitness / healthcare professional.

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