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Monday, 05 December 2016 09:22

Pilates for dancers: lift up your technique and limit injuries

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Hold your core, maintain your frame, roll your shoulders back, stay on the ball of your foot, as dancers you probably heard this a thousand times. Sometimes no matter how hard you try your body simply can’t do it or your brain doesn’t know how to communicate with your body.

Whether you’re amateur or pro, ballet or a Latin dancers, Pilates has an infinity of benefits that you absolutely need to start and experience now.

Strengthen in grace

Ordinary strength training might tighten up and shorten muscles, which is not ideal for your dancing posture. Pilates helps build strength in length and promote flexible movements. Here are a few examples.

Let’s talk abs: They are often worked in flexion with a focus on the 6-pack, which only constitutes the superficial layer of your abdominals. Pilates will strengthen your core muscles; the most important for posture and spine support, both in flexion and extension. Strengthening your core in extension is essential for dancers notably to protect your lower back during a dip for example.

Frame, frame, frame: it’s all about applying the right amount of pressure and recruiting the right muscles. If you overuse your pecs and the top of your shoulders, it will be hard to maintain your frame without your arms feeling tired and achy. Moreover it can bring your shoulders forward, making you look like the hunchback of Notre Dame rather than your dance idol. A sloppy frame is not ideal either. If you learn how to engage more supportive muscles in your shoulder girdle, such as your serratus or rhomboids, you will be able to keep a firm but not overpowering frame for hours.

Loosen those hips and rock those body rolls: your spine articulation and hips disassociation will without a doubt improve by practising Pilates regularly. Moving your spine evenly and controlling your pelvis is essential to great body isolation. You will also raise your body awareness and learn to apply the right amount of strength without creating stiffness.

Correct imbalances and prevent injuries

Don’t we all have a dominant leg and arm? Dancing can tend to increase that. One of my dance teachers recently made the following point: “Now think about how many spins you do on your right foot and on your left. Right dominant? Which arm you use most when spinning? Was it the right arm? Probably.” Repetitive movements, especially when training for choreography, can take their toll dancers' bodies. It is really important to acknowledge it and reset your body to proper alignment through exercises.

By improving your body awareness and providing an all round body workout building both strength and flexibility, Pilates is the best complement to your dance practice. Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying it will replace endless hours of dance training sigh… but trust me it will help connect your body and mind and fast track your progress.

At BPS Tensegrity we have plenty of options to suit your needs: barre classes, Pilates mat classes for all levels, semi-privates to work on more individual needs and even circuit classes if you want to get a program as a team! Check out our timetables, including our new Alexandria location, here.

Pilates for dancers: lift up your technique and limit injuries

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