Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An Easy Stretching Exercise To Increase Your Ballet Turnout

This isn't one of those ballet stretches that you need a studio a ballet barre, or dance wear for. This one is easy, because you do it sitting in a chair.

You can do it right now!

You will feel your turnout muscles, and feel an easy but deep stretch. Releasing tension will help you increase your ballet turnout.

Stretching exercises are necessary to relieve tension in your muscles, thereby improving muscle tone.

So, sitting on a chair, with both feet flat on the floor, lift up one foot and cross it over the other thigh. Just like a normal sitting position. Next, clasp your hands under your bent knee, and push down into your hands with that thigh.

The feeling is subtle, and a little different. This is resistance stretching.

Different angles: you can turn into the bent knee further, and you will get a slightly different stretch in your turnout muscles.

Turning away from the knee, the stretch will feel a little different.

Do each side. If you have a tighter side, you can always repeat that side again, to get an extra stretch.

Get your own DVD of stretching exercises, beautifully demonstrated so you can learn them all. Here's an interview with the lady who will see when you buy your DVD:

You can hip flexibility exercises - buy it here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Winter Workouts And Back Pain Relief - Stretches Help!

Winter workouts are important. Workouts learned and done correctly will help back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and more. Following up with stretching exercises is important too.

Workouts warm up your soft tissues that respond to exertion and movement by becoming more elastic. This means your connective tissues, myofascia, not just your muscles. Collagen becomes softer, just like hard butter that warms up, so your movements are eased.

Here is a short demonstration of stretching/fitness exercises by Miranda Esmonde White, author of the best seller  "Aging Backwards Miranda Esmonde White". This one is for upper body pain.

Many people get worse aches and pains in cold and/or damp weather, so keeping up the winter time workouts is crucial. Seasonally, our hormones accommodate the fall and winter cycles, and most people feel like hibernating. We may not have sunshine in the evenings to get us motivated for exercising. If we do, it may be too cold to go out and do it, if that is what you prefer.

And sometimes it is too hot in the summer to exercise outdoors!

Buy a DVD with stretching exercises for back pain relief.

 Back Pain rellief
 You'll be fit for all seasons!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dynamic Upper Body Stretches For Breast Cancer Survivors

 Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Post Surgery

My friend and classmate from The National Ballet School of Canada, Miranda Esmonde White is the creator this DVD of dynamic upper body stretches.

I applaud her work in this area for breast cancer rehabilitation.

(Miranda's work may now be best known for her best seller "Aging Backwards Miranda Esmonde White".)

Miranda is a breast cancer survivor - and she is proof that these breast cancer post surgery exercises work! 

 post surgery breast cancer survivors

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Core Muscles Control

 Core Muscles Control

 Core Muscles Control

There is a difference between the Pilates description of pulling the bellybutton to the spine, which works well especially when lying down, and the ballet usage of your lower abs.

It is indeed in the very low and deep abdominals, and if you pull those up you'll see your bellybutton lift up. That movement pulls the abs up and flat, like a supportive wall. It doesn't bunch the muscles up.

These deep abs, along with your turnout (rotator) muscles, your thighs and some support by the gluteals, stabilize the core area.

The gluteals (butt) muscles do not need to be clenched, but will automatically activate when you turnout.

The back will tense in response to sucking in/up those abs, as the muscles work together. However, you don't need to focus on maintaining that hold, focus on the abs. Tension and release is fluid, and that is part of the control gained by years of ballet/sports/fitness training. Ribs and shoulder areas are always moving slightly. If the core is strong, the upper torso can be balanced and stable, but you can still breathe properly and allow easy head movements and easy back bends. By that I mean, the same, a strong core area that allows the back bend and recovery without strain.

Fluid Tension In Dance And Life

The one exception to the fluidity of tension is the deep low abs, your support that holds strong. This abdominal support allows the lower ribs to expand for effective breathing. Done correctly, this actually helps fluidity as opposed to weakening the tight hold, which should be in the low abdomen.

Hopefully this fluidity flows down to your finger tips. Your thumb muscles like to take on a lot of tension, and many dancers/exercisers work with thumbs sticking up to some degree, or clenched into their palm.

Also, a held spiky finger formation, especially an index finger sticking up, shows a chronic strain and lack of core control. (In ballet, it is also an affectation that can be copied from a teacher or another dancer. Energy running through the hand, slightly straightening the palm and fingers, is different than tension).

Get the core muscle control you want, to be a healthy you.

Best Hip Flexor Stretch - Easy To Learn

Every dancer needs an exercise that stretches the hip flexors. This will help you stay upright when you lift a leg behind you, or derriere, in ballet terms.

To get your leg up to the back, or, to do an arabesque, you need to get really flexible in the psoas muscle. This is a postural support muscle that runs from the top of your thigh to the spine. Attached at the front of the spine, this muscle controls the bending of the body at the hip joint. (Say you sneeze and one of your knees lifts up when your abdomen contracts. You bend at the hip joint).

If flexible, this muscle also allows your spine to bend at the waist (a spine extension), when you raise your leg to the back. Here is one of the best hip flexor stretches you can do, to stretch this large, important muscle.

For Non-Dancers an excellent video


For dancers and athletes - best hip flexor stretch:

You do not need ballet turnout to do this, so I am going to describe this exercise with your legs in parallel.

A Standing (Psoas Muscle) Hip Flexor Stretch

Stretch out one leg to the back, about a yard or meter behind you. Place the back foot flat on the floor. Hold onto a ballet barre or the back of a chair to support your balance.

Now straighten the back leg, and keep your spinal position as straight as you can. Your pelvis may tip back a bit. You will feel a pull up the front of the back leg thigh and hip. Pull up the lower abdomen muscles, and you will increase the stretch feeling.

Twist away from the back leg, a little. You will increase your flexibility this way, by getting into this position which is good for the hip stretches.

Twist toward the back leg, and again you will feel the stretch move somewhat in the hip joint area.

Hold each position for thirty to sixty seconds. Repeat the stretch at least three times, each position, each leg.

Always stop and decrease the position if you feel pain. Stretching means a stretchy feeling, a little tension, but not pain.

Get yourself a balanced lower body (with some dynamic upper body stretches) DVD flexibility workout including hip flexor stretching exercises.