1. HOW TO BUILD A MEANINGFUL BRIDGE BETWEEN PHYSIOTHERAPY, EXERCISE, AND DANCE WITHOUT BEING OVERWHELMED?
Physiotherapy and dance - it's all about building bridges.
This blog post is about how to find connections between self-development, dance art, exercise-and therapeutic approaches so that you won’t be stressed. Did you know that the Authentic Ballet concept serves dancers so they can be successful with performing their art and at the same time be able to take care of themselves as individuals?
If dancers have a wish to succeed with self-care, the body, soul, and mind, have to be strengthened. This can be achieved through smart training as well as the knowledge and the tools to integrate the cognitive, the emotional, the spiritual (and more!) sides of an individual. We all know that intelligent exercising can improve dancers' technique and well-being and that we can find a huge amount of videos about this topic.
But do we know how to benefit from exercise tips for dancers in a simple, self-empowering way without being overwhelmed? For many dancers it is a problem, so that's why I'll now focus on only one type of an exercise, a bridge exercise.
I hope that this one focus will create an important and meaningful connection to what you already know and that it will contribute in a positive way to your dancer wellness process.
2. 'BRIDGE' AS A PHYSICAL EXERCISE AND A METAPHOR.
Last year in Oslo, I participated in a very interesting course arranged by the Progressing Ballet Technique Europe for Teachers, which inspired me to write this blog post. At the course, I learned some smart, specific and effective tools to improve the classical ballet technique and prevent injuries that can be caused by the lack of pelvic stability and proprioceptive control. These tools are now an integrated part of my everyday practice and I would like to share them with dancers, dance teachers and therapists in my AB Blog. I have included various perspectives, which I hope will interest you.
Why is it all about building bridges?
First, I’ll present the two concepts of the term 'bridge', which I consider interesting for all of you who work with dance. These are:
1. A 'bridge' in a meaning as a a physical start position for an exercise, often used as a fitness exercise and can also be ballet-inspired.
2. A 'bridge' as a metaphor for 'integration' to the everyday life, to relationships, to your dance community, and to your personal process.
In my everyday practice as a physiotherapist working with dancers, I also think about these two questions:
1. Which smart work-out approach could be good for me to know more about to benefit you as a dancer?
2. What kind of knowledge and tools could be useful for your well-being as a professional dancer?
So now, let’s talk about a 'bridge' as a start point for a physical exercise.
3. HOW TO CHALLENGE YOUR BODY WITH A FITNESS BALL?
A strong body center, where the activation of the core muscles is crucial for the feeling and connecting to the base. This is especially worth analyzing, while another part of the body moves. I compare this activity to a muscular 'grounding'.
It’s interesting how this muscular 'grounding' influences the wholeness in dancing. You can learn to connect to this strong center simply by you practicing on the start position 'the bridge'. This is basically a position where you hold your pelvis up and away from the floor while you support with your feet and your upper back.
When I studied somatocognitive physiotherapy in Norway, which is a special pedagogical body-mind therapy, I learned the term: 'dorsal pelvis lift'. 'Dorsal' means that you are lying on your back. Although, in the 'bridge' exercise, there is actually not much of your back in contact with the floor. In general, there is not much support available when doing this exercise when we, for example, use a big fitness or Swiss ball.
When the pelvis is lifted up and the feet are placed on the ball, there is only the upper part of the back, or a part of a shoulder girdle, which makes contact to the ground. In addition, there are some parts of the legs and feet relaxing on the ball and creating contact. This support is very challenging for your balance. If you have a big fitness ball, try out this position by yourself, and sense how it influences your pelvic stability and the activation of your core muscles, the butt, the back of your thigh, the calf and even your ankles.
Progressing Ballet Technique is a method and an approach to the ballet technique which uses a lot this starting 'bridge' position. From the bridge, you can challenge yourself by minimizing the surfaces of support and the ground contact, so that the core muscles can be activated to the maximum. In the end, your body will memorize exactly where you have to work and hold the position, in order to keep good postural control and incorporate this skill into dance! Using equipment like a Swiss ball is, (together with a TheraBand so that the arms can be in motion), a very simple but SO challenging measure for your body!
You can really be surprised by how strong the effect will be on your feeling of stability. Especially the first times when the body reacts during the exercise with being off- balance. Every time you practice the 'bridge', you will be surprised and impressed by how the body adapts to this challenge. You will also discover that the power of muscular memory is a great resource for your dancing. So, try this by yourself and go up in a bridge position, placing your feet on the ball and the shoulder girdle staying in contact with the floor.
Sense how the body automatically attempts to balance you. In addition, if you move your head from side to side or lift your arms up and over your head, then you will challenge yourself even more! With a TheraBand placed under the balls of your feet, and with a sufficient distance between the legs, try to lift up the elbows to the side, which will activate the core muscles even more. When you move the elbows to the side, you can feel the power on both the front and back of your arms. In addition, as there won't be more contact between the upper part of your arm and the floor, your pelvis stability will be pressed to work even harder!
If that sounds like a lot of information, please download a little summary of the 5 examples of the bridge exercise with
variations by clicking here: