Summer has finally arrived in the northern states! Yippee! I love not putting on coats, hats, gloves to take the dog for a walk.
The summer intensives and dance camps that are generally gearing up are either not happening or looking very different so I thought I would talk a bit about conditioning and training perspectives for your dancers.
I’ve always believed that summers are a great time to cross train and work in ways that you can’t during the regular school year. It’s a good time for students to work on cardiovascular fitness by biking or swimming if they are concerned about running. Running isn’t intrinsically bad for dancers – it all depends on your running form. The body is designed for movement and the better your alignment is when you are moving, no matter the form or style, the fewer negative consequences there will be in the body.
Even in summer you want to warmup your muscles. A few jumping jacks or jogging in place, quick walking for 5 minutes should get the body going unless you are working in an air-conditioned room, then it may take a bit longer. Some dancers will feel they are almost at a light sweat. That generally doesn’t happen for me… but there is a sense of inner warmness that I feel. Students need to pay attention to how their body feels in order to learn what is ‘warm’ for them.
Summer is a good time to address any muscle imbalances. Checking hamstring strength by doing single leg bridges is always a good one. Lift the pelvis up without arching the back, hold for 2 counts and lower back down.
If you want to try a new way (and I think fun) for hamstring strengthening try this. Standing, place your left foot on the seat of a chair behind you. Have the chair far enough away that you keep your standing leg and pelvis in neutral alignment. Don’t start with the pelvis already tipping forward or the lower back in an arch.
Reach down with your left hand towards your right foot. Then return to your starting position. Make sure to keep the knee aligned over your foot. You are putting the right glute and hamstrings on the stretch when you bend forward and then are asking them to contract to bring you back up. You are also working on your proprioception – always good for a dancer! Then switch sides. (You could use a physioball – making it more challenging.
I shot quick video to demonstrating this.
On the stretching side of things why not try some yin yoga to change up your routine. I love spending 3-5 minutes per stretching position. As they say in most of the videos… find your edge… breathe… and release any resistance. There are many yin yoga practices on YouTube and gaia.com and other websites to explore. I have my tried and true stretches – and – it feels good to change it up every now and then.
To your success,