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The importance of core strengthening exercises for dancers.

 

 

 

 

SADMSA committee member and Physiotherapist Dr. Shruti Kotian writes about the importance of core strengthening exercises for dancers.

 

Are you gearing up for an upcoming competition or a festival? Are you working out to
deliver a breathtaking performance? But are you working out to strengthen
your core yet? Without a good core control and strength, the movements may not look as graceful as they should and in the worst case scenario can lead to career-threatening injuries.


In this article we will be reading about the importance of core strengthening and how to perform these exercises.

 

 

What is the core?


The “core” has been described as a box with the abdominals in the front, paraspinals and gluteals in the back, the diaphragm as the roof, and the pelvic floor and hip girdle musculature as the bottom. These muscles act as a corsetin providing stability to the spine and body. When activated properly, they alsohelp in avoiding or minimising injury.


Bharatanatyam dancers mostly have to sit in aramandi (demi plie) position which requires them to have an erect spine and an anterior pelvic tilt which causes the abdominal muscles to pull anteriorly and can cause weakness of abdominal muscles.


Dancers have to change their body positions rapidly making them more prone to back and extremity injuries. The core should be able to adapt instantly in order to protect the body. Also a strong core is a foundation to good posture, balance and coordination.

 

In 2002, Nadler et al attempted to evaluate the occurrence of LBP both before and after incorporation of a core-strengthening program. The core-strengthening program included sit-ups, pelvic tilts, squats, lunges, leg presses, dead lifts, hang cleans, and Roman chair exercises and the incidence of LBP decreased by 47% in male athletes.

 

 

Some of the core strengthening which could be performed are :-


1. Abdominal crunch

 

 

 

Abdominal crunches are a classic core-strength exercise:

  •  Lie on your back and place your feet on a wall so that your knees and hips are bent at 90-degree angles. Tighten your abdominal muscles.

  • Raise your head and shoulders off the floor. To avoid straining your neck, cross your arms on your chest rather than locking them behind your head. Hold for three deep breaths.

  • Return to the start position and repeat.

 

 

 

 

 


2. Bridge

 

 

 

To improve core strength of several muscles in combination, try a bridge:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent (A). Keep your back in a neutral position, not arched and not pressed into the floor. Avoid tilting your​ hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles.

  • Raise your hips off the floor until your hips are aligned with your knees and shoulders (B). Hold for three deep breaths.

  • Return to the start position and repeat.

 

 

3. Single-leg abdominal press

 

 

 

The single-leg abdominal press is another popular core-strength exercise:

 

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent (A). Keep your back in a neutral position, not arched and not pressed into the floor. Avoid tilting your​ hips. Tighten your abdominal muscles.

  • Raise your right leg off the floor so that your knee and hip are bent at 90-degree angles. Rest your right hand on top of your right knee (B).

  • Push your hand against your knee while using your abdominal muscles to pull your knee toward your hand. Keep your arm straight. Hold for three deep breaths.

  • Return to the start position and repeat using your left hand and left knee.

 

 

4. Segmental rotation

 

 

 

Segmental rotation is another way to boost core strength:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your back in a neutral position. Tighten your abdominal muscles.

  • Keeping your shoulders on the floor let your knees fall slowly to the left(A). Go only as far as is comfortable. You should feel a stretch, but not pain. Hold for three deep breaths.

  • Return to the start position. Repeat the exercise to the right (B) 

 

5. Quadruped

 

 

 

This core-strength exercise is called the quadruped:

  • Start on your hands and knees. Place your hands directly below your shoulders, and align your head and neck with your back (A). Tighten your abdominal muscles.

  • Raise your right arm off the floor and reach ahead (B). Hold for three deep breaths. Lower your right arm and repeat with your left arm.

  • Raise your right leg off the floor (C). Tighten your trunk muscles for balance. Hold for three deep breaths. Lower your right leg and repeatwith your left leg.

  • For added challenge, raise your left arm and your right leg at the same time (D). Repeat with your right arm and left leg.

 

6. Modified plank

 

 

 

This core-strength exercise is called the modified plank:

  • Lie on your stomach. Raise yourself up so that you're resting on your forearms and your knees. Align your head and neck with your back, and place your shoulders directly above your elbows. Tighten your abdominal muscles.

  • Create resistance by pressing your elbows and your knees toward one another. Neither should move from their positions on the floor. Hold for
    three deep breaths.

  •  Return to the start position and repeat.

 

References 


1. Venu Akuthota et al, Core strengthening. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation.2005(85):86-95
2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/multimedia/core-strength/sls- 20076575?s=10

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