Daily stretching is a must for dancers, but it’s just as important for everyone else, and it becomes more valuable as we age. One of the primary benefits of stretching is increased flexibility, which means greater range of movement. Stretching also helps prevent injury; strains, sprains or tears are much less likely to happen to a flexible body.
Exercises with weights, running, biking and even dance are all demanding on the muscles. If they aren’t stretched out after every workout, over time they become shorter and tighter, creating a body that is strong… but not supple. As you increase your flexibility, you decrease your chances of getting injured.
Many common injuries are preventable with regular stretching:
1. Back problems: often stem from a tight psoas muscle, which runs down the front of the hips and pelvis. Try runner’s lunge to create more flexibility in the area.
2. Torn achilles’ tendon: Stretch calves and achilles’ tendons by standing on the balls of your feet at the edge of a stair or phonebook, pressing the heels down toward the ground.
3. Shoulders: avoid tears with a simple shoulder-opening exercise, using a strap or tie. Sit cross-legged or on the feet. Grab both ends of the strap. Inhale and bring the strap up overhead, then exhale and bring it down behind the body to the ground. Keep the arms straight the entire time. Let the hands slide further apart on the strap as necessary.
Regular stretching (at least 2-3 times per week) brings results. Make it a part of every workout, both before and after. Your body will be glad you did.
Dancers possess the ability to defy gravity while simultaneously making it look effortless. Imagine taking this power a few exponential steps further by combining dance with climbing and rappelling. Next, impose it all against dramatic natural and architectural settings to create choreography that is nothing short of awe-inspiring. This is Project Bandaloop, where the dancers command three dimensions, soaring horizontally and vertically in aerial dance that appears to overcome the bounds of the time-space continuum. Whether scaling Seattle’s Space Needle or spinning over Squaw Creek Falls, it’s a beautiful blend of dance, ritual and environmental awareness at work.
Today’s dancers are looking to push the limits and think out of the box. Audiences want more than just entertainment; they are looking for something miraculous that demonstrates the pinnacle of human strength, beauty and creativity. It’s all there for Bay Area-based Project Bandaloop. Witness their miraculous performances or experience zero gravity dance for yourself in a workshop: http://projectbandaloop.org/
It’s a busy world these days. Even with all of our technological advances, work takes up the bulk of our time during the week, and busy parents are challenged to find spare time for themselves, much less exercise. However, current health guidelines from the AMA suggest at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity per day plus ten minutes of stretching, so how does a busy person find this time? The answer: one minute at a time.
Ditch your car as often as possible. Instead of driving to get to work or run errands, try walking, biking, skating, or scootering (a side note: if you have not yet ridden a Razor Scooter this lifetime, you’re missing out) . If you are dropping your child off at school, park a half mile away and walk together. Walk with your children in the afternoons and weekends. Use part of your lunch break to walk or take an after-dinner stroll.
There are many ways to bike with small children. Bicycle seats can be front or rear-mounted, and two additional children up to 80 lbs. can be towed behind in a bicycle trailer. Now that’s a workout! Older children can ride behind on a trail-a-bike, which essentially makes your bike into a tandem. Kids who have mastered two wheels can ride to school and after-school activities.
Make more of your family time physical time. Roller skate or scooter in your driveway or hit the school black top after hours. Play frisbee, baseball, basketball, or kickball together. Take a hike or explore the nearest city on foot.
Add on minutes in creative ways whenever you can. Do squats, releves or leg lifts while dinner is cooking or heating things in the microwave. Throw in some sit-ups and pushups or lift hand weights while the kids do homework. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Turn on the music after dinner and have a living room dance-a-thon.
Things really do add up a minute by minute. Every time you capitalize on a few minutes here and there, your bottom line is looking better and better. Regular exercise can be woven into the most complex lifestyles in creative ways. Is it worth it? Do the math.
Sometimes it feels like everything hurts after a difficult dance class. Muscle pain and soreness are common post-workout complaints, particularly after strength-building workouts. Tiny, microscopic tears in the muscles occur when the body is pushed past its limits. These tears later heal and the muscles become stronger in the process. It isn’t much fun living in your own body while this is going on, but there are some simple remedies to both alleviate the pain and speed up the healing process.
1. A long, hot soak with Epsom salts. Most dancers turn to the tub, first and foremost. A warm bath with Epsom salts quickly soothes tired muscles. You’ll feel (mostly) human again in no time.
2.Tiger balm. The popularity of Tiger balm in the dance world may be because of the groovy little jar that this pain panacea comes in, or its bright, colorful label peppered with indecipherable Asian words. Regardless, it’s an integral part of any dancer’s tool kit.
3. Bromelain. Most people associate Bromelain as a digestive enzyme, something to pop post-meal to settle the stomach. However, taken on an empty stomach, Bromelain takes on an entirely different purpose: it eats up stray proteins in the body, like those present in sore muscles and injuries. Nutritionist Krispin Sullivan even recommends the use of Bromelain for both pre-op and post-op patients to help speed the healing process. (To read more from Krispin, visit: http://www.krispin.com)
Any dancer or athlete should have a few remedies to counteract sore muscles. Use them and the motto “no pain, no gain” gets a simple rewrite to “no pain”.