wellness

The Myth of Aging

“Well... I AM 46 years old…”

This was the reason a recent client gave me for backing down on his physical activity.

I can understand. He was playing it safe… trying to be careful not to “wear out” his joints too soon.

He had the impression, as most of us do, that there is a limited amount of “wear and tear” your body can take before it breaks down and will require drastic measures- like surgery or stopping your workouts all together.

And 46 feels old… when you’re 46.

Your body doesn’t bounce back like it used to. Maybe you’ve had a few injuries, a surgery or two, and the idea that you could get hurt again has got your feeling nervous.

Maybe you’ve even gone through physical therapy (like this gentleman had) and despite your diligence with your exercise program... and giving yourself time to heal... you’re just not feeling like your normal active self yet. You don’t feel really strong, flexible, or able to handle the challenges of your workout like you used to.

Or maybe repeated bouts of pain have set you back enough times to make you feel like you’re just pushing too hard.

So you tame it down a bit. You stick to the treadmill instead of playing basketball. You stretch more instead of getting out and running hard. You slow down the steps and twists in Zumba class.

And slowly you starting believing that your time to be young, active, and mobile is up.

You’re getting older, so you might as well get used to the fact that your body is just falling apart.

You can’t keep going around acting like you’re 20 years old anymore...


...Well, you COULD believe all of that. I mean, you’ve probably heard it over and over again, and maybe you’ve even heard it from your doctor or physical therapist.

Or, you could choose to believe something different.

You could remember that while you might be in your forties, you’re only HALFWAY to 80.

You could remember that you have a living, breathing, adaptable body. It will never stop being able to improve, even if you’re getting stuck right now.

You could realize that if you stop gaining strength, power, explosiveness, or agility in your body NOW, it WON’T be available to you when you actually do get older.

(And the tough part of that is... strength, power, explosiveness, and agility are the exactly the movement abilities you need to avoid a fall and a broken hip when you’re 80).

You could choose to believe that while you can’t go back to when you were 20, there’s absolutely NO REASON to act like your time is up now.

The only reason you’re struggling is that we haven’t yet solved the real problem that’s keeping you from being your normal, fully active, self.

Most people in your position only need a couple of things to propel them back to the active and healthy life they want (and need).

1. A new set of eyes.

2. An approach that restores all the movement capabilities you need for the sport or workout you love to do.

I’ve had client or client come to me feeling stuck and hopeless, but leave feeling confident, restored, and strong again. One is back to playing basketball confidently. Another is back to regular exercise classes without having to “modify” everything. Still another- back to CrossFit without any issues.

And most of the time, the process is so much easier and more fun than they expected.

But they ALL started with the choice to believe that they were capable living of a better life. And they ALL took the steps necessary to achieve it.

You can, too. And it starts by booking a free call to speak with me at kinesipt.com/talk. When you do, you’ll have the chance to run your situation by me to see if it really might be possible to get back to the active life you want.

If it is, we’ll also walk you through a step by step plan to achieving it, so you too can get your life and confidence back. If it makes sense for us to help you do that, we'll let you know how. If not, we'll point you in the direction that best serves you.

This free call adds massive value to your life because when you book it, you make the choice to KEEP PURSUING the active healthy life you deserve.

That choice can only be made by you, but it has positive effects for you... AND everyone around you.

What could be better?

Book your call now: kinesipt.com/talk

Talk soon,

Melissa

Combatting Summer Dance Intensive Soreness: 8 Tips To Help Dancers Manage Soreness So You Can Keep Dancing At Your Best

Soreness. It’s very much a part of any summer dance intensive experience. At a summer dance intensive, you’re most likely dancing harder, for more hours per day, and for more hours per week than you usually do. You might also be doing new things- like conditioning, flamenco, or partnering work- that are challenging you in ways you didn't expect.

As a result, your body might feel quite a bit more sore than it usually does. With little time to recover between days of dancing, you need to do everything you can to keep your soreness down and your dancing ability up. Read on for the 8 top tips I gave some summer dance intensive participants earlier this week- simple strategies that can help you dance at your best all intensive long.

1. Understand that soreness is normal. “Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness” (DOMS) or that stiff and tired feeling you have for about 2 days after working out really hard, is common when you do something that is new or something that is much more difficult than what you normally do. This dull ache in your muscles (sometimes you feel stiffness in your joints, too) is a normal part of pushing yourself to your limits. It can be pretty intense, but usually gets better within 2-3 days and gets less intense as you get more used to dancing harder and more. So, hang in there and give it time. With a multiple week intensive, you’ll probably feel less and less sore each week.

2. Warm-up. Although you may think that the warm-up in your first dance class of the day is enough of a warm-up, it’s likely not. Even a basic demi, demi, grande plié at the beginning of a ballet class is actually pretty intense and if it’s the first big movement or your day, your body probably isn’t ready for it. Arrive to your intensive early each day and take 5 or 10 minutes to get your body moving in a way that feels good for you. Your body is “cold” in the morning, so focus on small, gentle movements and easy active stretching, just until your joints feel loosened and your muscles are  a little warm. Just this one small step can make a big difference in the amount of soreness you feel at the end of your day.

3. Cool down. Dance intensive days can end fast, too. At the end of your last class, you are probably really warm, sweating, tired, and dancing “full out” to your best ability… Then, all of the sudden, you stop, gather up your things, and head out the door, right? This quick change from “full out” to full rest can be pretty shocking to your body and can add to your post-dancing soreness. Taking even just 5 or 10 minutes to stretch, relax, and do gentle movements at the end of your day can help your body slowly ease back down from 100%... and can help you feel much much better.

4. Eat enough protein. Protein is essential to keep you strong, healthy, and able to take on the demands of your summer dance intensive without breaking down. Specifically, protein is the stuff that your body uses to build and rebuild your muscles after you challenge them. How much do you need? 1.4-1.6 grams for every kilogram of body weight… which translates, for example, into about 90 grams per day for a dancer who weighs 125 pounds. Protein shakes or supplements are not necessary- regular foods like meats, nuts, milk, yogurt, cheese, rice with beans, and tofu often have plenty of protein to meet your needs.

5. Drink enough water. Water is another critical ingredient to your health and muscle function when you dance. It helps your muscles function efficiently so you don’t have to work any harder than you should or be more sore than necessary after a hard day of dancing. Drink water regularly and throughout your day to make sure you don’t get thirsty and have to gulp down large amounts later. While there are many recommendations out there about how much you should drink, the real answer is actually in your output… clear or light yellow urine means you are drinking just the right amount.  

6. Eat small amounts of food throughout the day. Even though food and water are super important to helping you stay strong and ward off excessive soreness, big meals don’t always work well with a tight schedule or with needing to dance hard all day long. Instead, keep snacks that you can eat in very small portions with you all day. Trail mix, pretzel chip + peanut butter “sandwiches”, or small containers of yogurt in an insulated bag are just a few options to help you make sure you get enough food for a whole day of dancing... without ever feeling too full.

7. Use “pampering” treatments. Pampering treatments are what I call those things that don’t really address the underlying reason why you are getting sore… but feel pretty good and just might help you rebound back todancing a little bit more quickly. Foam rolls, massage sticks, ice packs, camphor and menthol rubs (like Tiger Balm), compression clothing, and massage are all great options for managing soreness between dance intensive classes or days. A couple of words of caution: 1. Be careful to only use ice at the end of your day- not just before dancing- because the numbness and stiffness caused by ice are counterproductive and can be even dangerous when you are dancing. 2. Make sure that you don’t use any “pampering” treatments to try to cover up pain that should be evaluated by a medical professional.

8. Understand that pain is not normal. While soreness is a normal part of challenging your body, any sensation that goes beyond what could be called soreness into what you would call pain is not- especially when it has a bad effect on your dancing or doesn’t go away pretty quickly. If you are experiencing pain, it’s important that you take care of yourself- back off from whatever movement is causing the pain and consult your doctor or physical therapist to get a clear answer of what is going wrong and how you can keep dancing or get back to dancing quickly and safely. If you’re not sure where to go or what to do next, call Melissa Reh, PT at (847) 345-2246  or inquire here for a free, no-obligation consultation to help get you headed in the right direction.

Happy Dancing!!

Additional Resources:

5 Top Ways For Dancers To Stay Healthy in 2017

But Isn't Being A Dancer Supposed To Hurt?

Fueling The Dancer by the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science

 

But Isn’t Being a Dancer Supposed to Hurt?

A few years ago, I was working with a dancer who was experiencing knee pain. As a part of her care plan, we had agreed that she would temporarily stop doing the things that most aggravated her pain- specifically jumps and leaps, while we sorted out her issue and helped her get strong enough to jump and leap again without pain.

Then, at one of her follow-up visits, she said that she was having pain again while doing leaps across the floor. I asked her if she stopped leaping when she felt the pain, and she said “No.” No? So, I asked “Why not?” She then shared that she kept going because her dance instructor had said something to the effect of…

“When you’re a professional, you’re just going to have to work through the pain.”

Have you ever heard something similar? I have seen that lots of dancers have- it’s like we believe that pain is a prerequisite for progress. I believe that it is so much a part of our heritage that it is really difficult to listen to anyone or anything that tries to tell us differently.

The pressure that dancers feel to perform at their highest capacity- even if it causes pain or injury- only adds to the intensity of this mindset. Pressure may come directly from instructors or coaches who are looking to have you performance or competition ready, like NOW. However, it can just as easily come from our minds... from the ideas we concoct that say we need to be perfect, beautiful, skilled, artistic, motivated, cooperative, and agreeable at ALL times in order to be successful dancers. Case in point: when I recently asked another dancer client what her definition of success was, she replied, “Dancing full out, all the time, in as many classes and performances as I want, with no pain, ever.” Can you relate?

Here’s the problem: We aren’t actually in charge. Our bodies are. Each time we ignore serious pain… Each time we feel we must be perfect… Each time we believe that we have to hurt ourselves to get better… We are fighting a fight that we can’t win.

Pain doesn’t lead to progress- at least not directly. Dancers who are in pain don’t dance bigger, more beautifully, or more confidently. They actually wither as their bodies try to protect themselves from worsening pain or injury. They get weaker, more unsteady, more fatigued, tighter, and less powerful. Pain is a real signal that something is going wrong- a sign that your body needs some help to overcome a problem. Progress doesn't happen until you face the real problem and address it. 

Now if you’ve been dancing for any period of time, you probably know that I don’t mean that dancing should never be uncomfortable, challenging, or difficult. That muscle burn during conditioning or the soreness you feel in your muscles for a couple for days after a tough class? They are indeed part of the package. The emotional pain of not being placed in a class, intensive,  or performance that you were hoping for? That’s part of being a dancer, too. The personal difficulty of giving your time to classes, rehearsals, and performances when you might prefer to be lounging on the couch or hanging out with friends? You got it. These are all parts of the rigor of dance training. They build you up to be a stronger, better, and more dedicated dancer.

However, severe or persistent pain that limits your ability to dance how you would normally be able to is not normal, not healthy, and not productive.

There may come a day, when your paycheck is riding on it, that you choose to ignore a nagging pain and continue with a rehearsal or performance that is expected of you, despite the danger that you may worsen your pain or get injured. That will be your choice to make on that day. But if that day isn’t here yet- if you are still a student, if you are in training, if you have any flexibility in your life or options, and if you are not ready to give up dancing for the sake of your next rehearsal or performance… please don’t. Please do take care of yourself. Take the time and get the help you need to get healthy and dancing well again.

Don’t spend now what you hope to have in the future. Your dancing is worth more than that… and so are you.

5 Top Ways for Dancers to Stay Healthy in 2017

What’s the best way to keep yourself healthy for dancing? Is it a better diet? More dance classes? More stretching? Massage? For every dancer there is a different answer. However, after years of helping dancers get healthy and back to dancing after suffering with pain and injuries, there are a few key strategies that I feel are most important for dancers who are committed to getting healthy, staying healthy, and dancing well today and for many years to come.

As you review this short list, see what fits for you and please try it. Don’t forget to seek the help of your parents, dance instructors, or medical professionals if you need it.  Wishing you a happy, healthy, and dancing 2017!

1. Look Back

New Years is a great time to sit back and reflect on what went well or didn’t go well in your dancing last year. How was 2016 for you? Was it a great year? What made it great? Was it a difficult year? Why? Taking a peek into your past can give you a great sense of where you’ve been and what you’ve accomplished- was it a lot? Was it less than you hoped? Why? Be honest with yourself about 2016 now so you can go ahead into 2017 with a clear mind. While you’re thinking about last year, also take some time to think about why you dance and what it means to you. Grab a piece of paper and write it down. Purposefully remembering why you love to dance gives you the perfect backdrop from which to make great future choices about your health and your dancing.   

2. Look Ahead

Now, it’s time to decide what you’d like 2017 to look like. While no one can actually tell the future, picturing the changes or accomplishments you’d like to see in in the next year can help you make sure your everyday health choices are headed in the right direction. Goal setting is a powerful tool to help you focus your energy on the results you want- those that are most important to you. Clearly set goals also help you avoid the unhealthy behaviors (like ignoring pain) that might keep you from reaching your goal. Get specific, focus on the actions you need to take, and start small. What's one thing you'd like to do to make 2017 your best year yet? Ok. What is it going to take to achieve that one thing? Write down everything you need so you can start working on getting it.

3. Improve Your Nutrition

How has your nutrition been in 2016? Was it great? Could it use some improvement? The nutrition you give your body is fuel for your dancing- the better stuff you put in, the better stuff you're going to get out. Protein helps you build strong muscles, heal from injury, function normally, and have sustained energy. Active dancers need about 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get kilograms, then multiply that number by 1.5 to estimate how much protein you need). Fruits and veggies contain vital nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that provide you with energy you need for your body to work well, especially under high demand situations, like long or difficult classes or rehearsals. If you feel your nutrition needs a boost, make a plan. What’s one change you can make to your nutrition soon... and stick with? What might have been keeping you from making that change already? What help do you need to make that change a little easier to fit in to your busy dancing life (could be something simple- like getting a small cooler so you can keep a yogurt snack cold while you dance or a water bottle that you can refill)? Reflect on these questions so you can make the best plan possible. 

4. Fully Address Nagging Aches and Pains

While massage sticks, foam rolls, and the occasional ice pack can be great tools to manage the everyday stiffness or soreness you might feel after dancing, they are not made to address injuries or lingering pain. If you have been experiencing pain or haven't fully recovered from an injury, your 2017 health is already in jeopardy. Take the time and get the help you need to fully heal and get strong again. It’s one of the best decisions you can make for yourself and your dancing. Not sure where to start? Call or message me to schedule a free phone consultation or make an appointment with your primary care doctor today.

5. Get More Rest

Getting enough rest is a real challenge for dancers- especially those who are in school or working outside of dance. Sleep is an extremely important part of rest- without enough, your mental and physical function gets worse and you are more at risk for an injury. However, sleep isn't the only kind of rest dancers need. Taking a break from dancing when you need to, making time for other things that you love to do, and knowing when to back down from intense classes or schedules are also smart and effective ways to avoid burning out or getting seriously injured.


Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t worry. Great health is not about perfection. It’s about making small, but consistent, changes in the right direction. Take it one step at a time. Once you’ve mastered your first positive change, you can take on the next one. I sincerely hope that 2017 will be your best dancing year yet.

 

Additional Resources:

Nutrition: Alisa Levine Bloom, MPH, RD, LDN www.liveyourbest365.com

Dancer Health: How Do I Know How Much Is Too Much?

Dancer Health: 5 Ways To Keep Injury From Ruining Your Dance Career

 

 

5 Ways To Keep Injury From Ruining Your Dance Career

Many dancers fear injury, and worse, avoid fully addressing their pain or injury once it's happened. Unfortunately, this avoidance can escalate an injury and prolong pain, which makes the recovery process even more difficult. Having a focused and thoughtful approach to injury recovery can help you keep injury from ruining your dance career and can even help you become a stronger and healthier dancer. 

As I look forward to presenting at summer dance intensives for both Dancenter North and Millennium Dance Center this week, I am sharing my hands-down best advice possible to help you heal well after injury so you can keep your dancer career alive and thriving. I have seen these basic practices help many dancers get and stay healthy- I hope they will help you, too.

SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE. 

Many dancers avoid seeing a doctor or physical therapist because they fear being told to stop dancing. The problem is, NOT addressing a problem doesn’t make it go away- it makes it worse. If you are injured or in pain, get it checked out and don’t stop until you get the care you need to fully recover. The time you think you might lose from seeking care is nothing compared to the time you stand to lose if you don't get the help you need now. So, go out and...

FIND HELP THAT MEETS YOUR NEEDS.

Find a physician and/or therapist that will listen fully to your concerns and who will address them to your satisfaction. If your goal is to continue dancing, your doctor or physical therapist should do everything possible to help you do that. While finding the right person to help you can take some work, trying to recover from an injury completely on your own is even tougher. Don’t give up on yourself if you can’t get the answers you need- keep asking. 

DON’T OVERUSE ICE.

Ice can be helpful to reduce pain and swelling if you’ve overdone it. However, you should never need ice on a consistent basis. A much safer and more effective method of managing symptoms is to adjust how much and how hard you are dancing to a level that doesn’t cause you pain or swelling. Your dancing will actually progress much more quickly if you don’t have to spend so much time and effort recovering from it. 

STAY ACTIVE.

Movement is a critical part of the healing process. However, movement that puts you in pain or worsens your injury will not help you heal. Work with your physical therapist on ways that you can stay active and as safe as possible while you recover. If your doctor has not recommended physical therapy, ask for it. 

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. 

While some aches and pains are a normal part of the experience of pushing your body to its limits, pain that is persistent or keeps you from moving and dancing normally should be addressed as quickly as possible. Ignoring pain or thinking that you can just “work through it” puts you on the path toward more severe injury and more time lost from dancing. Your body is smart- it knows how to take care of you. Listen to it. 

Defining Success

When I am teaching a new exercise to a client, I often modify the exercise to better suit that client's individual needs. My clients sometimes protest my suggested change. They resist making the modification and ask me some form of the question, "But if I do it this way... I'm not really doing it, am I?" 

I get it. We are usually working with a physical therapist because something is going wrong and we want to do all the right things to help ourselves get better. Doing an exercise with textbook form may seem like the right thing to do. However, if we pursue perfection before our body is ready for it, we put ourselves on the fast track to pain city. On the other hand, to not do an exercise the way we think it's supposed be done feels like failure. 

At the heart of this problem lies a key question: How do we define success? Is success based on outcome... or action? Even though the ultimate goal of rehab is to return to doing everything we love to do (outcome), the best way to reach that goal might be to simply find ways to move without pain (action). We can't reach our destination without traveling the path that leads to it.

Today, I encourage you to release yourself from the expectation of a perfect outcome and, instead, celebrate the success of taking action. 


Squat Success

Are you apprehensive about squatting because of knee pain or because you think that squatting may damage your knees? You are not alone. Although some people do experience knee pain when squatting, the squat itself is not to blame. 

A squat is simply a bending of the legs that brings our body closer to the ground. It's a worthwhile exercise because it helps us better able to reach things on the floor or under the counter, get up and down from chairs, and get up and down from the floor. Pain that occurs while squatting is most likely just a signal that our bodies need a little more help to be able to squat successfully. 

Please take a look at this video to learn how to find ways to build a more successful squat. 

Is a squat that doesn't conform to "correct squat form" still a squat? Yes! Is it still worth doing if it's not perfect? Yes!! Use this information to help you find a way of squatting that feels great to you. If you love squats and feel great doing them, please use these squat variations to build even more flexibility and strength. 

**Please do not continue any exercise that causes you pain or poses a risk to your safety. If pain is keeping you from moving normally or exercising, please seek individualized care from a physical therapist or physician so you can start feeling and moving better now.**  


This post originally appeared as a part of Kinesi, LLC's biweekly newsletter, "Movement Matters." If you would like to receive "Movement Matters" via email, please subscribe here. Thanks for reading!

 


 

The Question of the Apple vs. the Orchard

 
“Start slow, and when you think you are going slow enough, slow down.” - advice from Dean Karnazes to Kristin Armstrong before her first ultramarathon

My husband, who has his sights set on his first ultramarathon this fall, shared this quote with me this morning. It makes sense. When attempting to run an extremely long distance, you don’t want to run out of gas too soon. It is basic physiology summed up in a very practical manner. 

But even though this advice was specific to running, I couldn’t help thinking about how it applies to injury recovery, as well. It is completely natural to want to get as much out of your body as possible- to push yourself to return to your normal life, exercise, dance, or sports involvement as quickly as you can. It is common to focus on what Stephen Covey calls Production (P), or immediate results, despite feeling pain or having poor quality (limping or other forms of compensation) in your movement. But my question is, how much are we focusing on the now and how much are we focusing on the future? What are we doing to build Production’s wellspring, Production Capacity (PC)? 

Mr. Karnazes’ quote is clearly about PC. PC is ultimately what leads to production not just now, but long into the future. It’s not about how you fast you run at the beginning. It's about whether you are still running 50 miles from now. 

So, where are you in your injury recovery process or workout program? Are you looking to produce results now? Or are you looking to build the capacity to produce results in the future? Are looking to be able to perform today? Or are you looking to be able to perform next month, next year, or 10 years from now? Are you pushing your body to work despite pain? Or are you finding ways to move successfully without pain? 

Which do you want more? To produce results RIGHT NOW, despite any consequences that might follow? Or do you want a build a future that will bring you good results for a long time to come? 

Do you want to eat an apple? Or do you want to grow an orchard?

“To maintain the P/PC Balance, the balance between the golden egg (production) and the health and welfare of the goose (production capability) is often a difficult judgment call. But I suggest it is the very essence of effectiveness.”  -Stephen R. Covey

Cultivating Successful Turnout Part 6/6

Turnout Q&A Image.jpeg

Hello and welcome to the 6th and final post about “Turnout,” our workshop at Dancenter North. Last Saturday we reviewed some of the dancers’ favorite exercises and did some Q&A about turnout. Although I joked with the dancers about my elaborate “non-answers” to their questions (because the real answer to most questions is “It depends...”), we did cover some important ideas about turnout. I hope these Qs and As will be helpful to you, as well! 

Q: How can I improve my turnout without hurting myself?

A: The dancers themselves were able to answer this question beautifully. Their very correct answers highlight the fact that improving turnout is a process. Here are their answers: 

  • Work slowly. 
  • Stay where your body is comfortable. 
  • Try to do a little more each day. 
  • Push it when you can. 

I’d also add: 

  • Work on improving strength and flexibility throughout your entire body, not just your hips. 
  • Focus on good alignment and dance technique within your comfortable turnout range- don’t crank your turnout at the expense of the rest of your technique. 
  • And finally, as we said in week 1: Start with success and your body will give you the rest. 

Q: How can I make sure I am turning out from my hips? 

A: First of all, don’t force your turnout by planting each foot separately feet with hips and knees flexed, then straightening both knees. This technique, called “screwing the knee” can cause excessive compensation through the knees and feet. Instead, gently place your feet where you think they can go without feeling excessive strain in your legs (keep legs fairly straight while you do this). Then, lift up one leg to passé. If you can keep your pelvis square and level, you are likely using the correct amount of turnout for your body, which will likely include a good amount from your hips. 

Also, if you are turning out from your hips, your knees will ideally glide right out over your toes, not toward the insides of your feet during a plié. If you have difficulty aligning your knees over your toes, get assistance from your instructor or physical therapist- some people do have alignment variances that prevent the knee from tracking straight over the toes. 

Finally, check with your dance teachers. An instructor who is knowledgeable about correct technique and alignment throughout a wide range of dance movement will be able to help you be sure that you are turning out from your hips appropriately. 

Q: How come it’s easier for others to achieve their turnout?

A: Everyone is different. Our bodies, our histories, and our training can all influence how well we turn out. Hip socket depth, femur alignment, soft tissue flexibility, and strength are just a few of the reasons two people might dance with different amounts of turnout. Please remember: turnout is a process and a technique, not a static characteristic of a person. Respecting your body and putting the work it to make improvements will help you find your best turnout.  

Q: How long will it take to reach my goals?

A: This is another question that really “depends”. During this workshop, we were able to measure each dancer’s turnout before and after doing even just a few exercises, and they were all able to see a positive difference. So, in that case, we were able to see positive change in just a few minutes. More significant and permanent change will likely take longer. What your goals are, where you are starting, how much time you put in, how much focus you have, whether you stay safe and successful with your movement, what your injury history is, what your training history is, and how quickly your body adapts to change are all factors that contribute to how quickly you might reach your goals. The important part is putting in the work on a regular basis. Keep at it and you will likely see improvement. If you do not see any positive change over a period of weeks or months, your dance teacher or your physical therapist may be able to help you figure out why and help you make it better. 

Q: How can I hold my turnout longer?

A: Warm up before your start. Start by using your successful turnout, not by forcing it (see question 2 above). Practice using it throughout all movements you perform in class. Listen to your teachers and ask for individual help if you are unable to understand or execute the technical instructions they give you. Lather, rinse, repeat. Doing technically sound work, over and over, will help you build the endurance you need to hold your turnout longer. 

Q: What exercises should I do before class so that I am able to hold turnout from the beginning?

A: The simple, but not easy, answer is whatever exercise helps you the most. This requires that you be a scientist with your own body. Try different stretches or exercises that you already know, but test/retest your turnout before and after doing the exercise. Which one helps the most? Do THAT one before class. Not sure if a new exercise you saw will help? Try it, and test/retest your turnout as above. One size does not fit all for exercise.  Don’t worry if your friend, teacher, or even physical therapist, shows you an exercise that doesn’t feel good or doesn’t help you. Do what works for you and don’t think twice about it!

That being said, some of the dancers in this workshop really liked warming up before class with this exercise. Feel free to give it a shot and see if it works for you!


PLEASE READ FULLY: A 3D pivot matrix is a movement sequence that can help your feet, knees, and hips work together in a coordinated fashion. The 3D pivot matrix can be either a warm-up or conditioning exercise. For best results, step only in the directions that are comfortable and/or only step as far out as is comfortable for you.

** Please discontinue this exercise and consult with your doctor or physical therapist if you are experiencing pain or if you are unsure as to whether this exercise is right for you.**


Thanks so much again for joining us! Please comment below or write me at melissa@kinesipt.com if you have any questions- I'd be happy to help in any way possible. Happy Dancing!

Cultivating Successful Turnout Part 2/6

The dynamic and adaptable human foot contains 26 bones and 33 joints. Getting them moving well can help your turnout!

The dynamic and adaptable human foot contains 26 bones and 33 joints. Getting them moving well can help your turnout!

During Week 2 of our "Turnout" workshop at Dancenter North, I was so happy to hear that some of the dancers had felt that their turnout was already improving since Week 1. Yes! Great job, ladies! Now, onto the feet:

  1. Foot structure is highly individual. Flat feet? High arches? Whatever! How your foot functions is much more important than what it looks like. Ideally, your foot should function a little bit like a spring, flexing gently downward as you put weight onto it or perform a plié, but also rebounding back up when you take weight off of it or rise onto relevé. 
  2. Your foot contains an astounding 26 bones and 33 joints. These bones and joints move 3-dimensionally to keep you connected to the floor as you move. This incredible function not only allows you to keep your balance, but also feeds movement, like a chain reaction, to the rest of your leg and body. 
  3. Although our ankle joints have lots of motion in the sagittal plane (front to back motion seen when flexing and pointing the foot), they are still 3-dimensional joints. The small amounts of frontal plane (side to side) and transverse plane (rotational) motion at the ankles have a big influence on the ability of the ankle to flex and point fully. In addition, maintaining good rotational ability through the ankle allows your lower leg to contribute to the total turnout of your leg.
 

Foot Note: Forcing your turnout to the point where your arches roll in toward the floor limits the ability of your foot to stay stable on the ground while you are dancing. Try readjusting your turnout to an angle where your foot can be comfortably flat and your arch a little bit springy- this is your successfully turned out position!

 

During the Week 2 class, we worked on a number of exercises to help the foot and ankle move and work well. Check out the stretch below and try it for yourself- remembering to stay pain free and work where you feel comfortable and successful. 

Thanks for joining us- see you next week!

Two approaches to stretching the calf in three dimensions:  Position/Movement: Face the barre or a wall, use hands for support. Place 1 foot on the floor, toes forward, toes in, or toes out (whichever is most comfortable). Move other knee 5-10 times in each direction: straight forward and backward, then straight side to side, then rotationally to the right and left. Allow your body to follow the movement of the knee. If your ankle on the standing leg isn't moving, bring that foot closer to the wall and try again. Please discontinue this exercise and consult your doctor or physical therapist if you feel pain.  Pictured Left: Towel roll under the heel lessens the (dorsi)flexion in the ankle allowing more side to side and rotational movement success.  Pictured Right: Towel roll under the ball of the foot causes more dorsiflexion in the ankle, which challenges the foot and ankle to be more flexible in all 3 directions.

Two approaches to stretching the calf in three dimensions:

Position/Movement: Face the barre or a wall, use hands for support. Place 1 foot on the floor, toes forward, toes in, or toes out (whichever is most comfortable). Move other knee 5-10 times in each direction: straight forward and backward, then straight side to side, then rotationally to the right and left. Allow your body to follow the movement of the knee. If your ankle on the standing leg isn't moving, bring that foot closer to the wall and try again. Please discontinue this exercise and consult your doctor or physical therapist if you feel pain.

Pictured Left: Towel roll under the heel lessens the (dorsi)flexion in the ankle allowing more side to side and rotational movement success.

Pictured Right: Towel roll under the ball of the foot causes more dorsiflexion in the ankle, which challenges the foot and ankle to be more flexible in all 3 directions.

We Are Not Broken

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In a world with the blessings of science and technology that give us medications, braces, orthotics, and MRIs, we have gained tremendous ability to understand and help our bodies when they are in serious need of help. But there is another side to this blessing that motivates me to speak up and to toss away this technology whenever possible. 

It’s the belief that we are not inherently broken. We humans are built exactly and miraculously how we should be.  We are meant to stand upright, our feet are meant to pronate, and pain is not a sign of failure, but a sign of success. Furthermore, it’s the belief that when we do break down, our bodies are knowledgeable and well equipped to lead the healing process.

Although this belief may stand in opposition to many medical and therapeutic practices that are common today, the research is mounting to support it. We are finding that our brains and bodies have tremendous protective and corrective capabilities that, when respected, light the path toward healing and growth. Gary Gray, David Butler, Brian Mulligan, and Barefoot Ted have been onto this for years, and I have learned this lesson time and time again from the patients who have been gracious enough to let me try to help them.

We are powerful. We are meant to move. And we are capable of healing.

When we respect our body’s inherent wisdom, we can more easily step away from tests and treatments that don't work in harmony with our needs. If we make ourselves students of our bodies, and if we listen with humility, we may more readily reach our fullest potential.