It was awesome to work with a few dancers virtually this weekend for our virtual master class. We learned the anatomy of the core musculature, what those muscles do, the difference between stability and strength, AND stability and strength exercises for all parts of the core.
The biggest takeaway from this class was to think of the core as a three-dimensional object. Most dancers think of the core as an interchangeable term for their abdominals. However, the abdominal muscles are just a piece of the puzzle. Let me explain further...
Imagine a large brown cardboard box. It's tall, but not too tall. It has 6 sides to it - front back, right side, left side, top, and bottom. The box is closed on the top and bottom.
Now this box represents your "core." The front of the box is your abdominal muscles. The back of the box is your lower back and spinal muscles. The sides consist of the obliques and a few muscles that wrap around into the sides of the core. The top of the box is your diaphragm, and the bottom is your pelvic floor.
When I first learned about this imagery for the core, it completely changed everything!! From the way I move to the way I think about engaging my core... it was mind-blowing to me.
If we think about our tall cardboard box again, we have all 6 sides in tact. They all work together. Without taping down the top flaps, it would just be a piece of cardboard. Without unfolding the side flaps, we wouldn't even have a box-like shape! All the sides have to join together to make this piece of cardboard into a "box."
It's the same with your core. We are constantly working these muscles even when we do not realize it. Even if you are doing crunches on the floor (which you shouldn't be, but I'll explain that later), you are using your breath, engaging your pelvic floor, and stabilizing and stretching other muscles that make up the core.
All of these muscles are working simultaneously because they all have different jobs to do.
We didn't do one single crunch in this virtual class. Shocking, right? Crunches are great for working the rectus abdominis muscles of your abdominal muscle group, but usually crunches result in pulling on the neck, and using too much momentum, which do not result in a stronger core.
There are better ways to work your core - like starting with stability training and working your way up to strength training. Paying attention to all sides of the core helps us maintain core engagement while we are dancing and allows us to properly train the core for stability and preventing injury.
Next time you're doing crunches in your dance class or before competition, I encourage you to take a moment and think about the type of movement you will be doing on stage or in class. Will you be crunching your head forward and rounding your back like you do in a crunch? Probably not.
So instead, use core exercises that will help you stabilize the joints and protect the spine while you're doing crazy tricks and multiple pirouettes. You'll be better prepared for your dancing and actually feel like you're using your core rather than just hearing your dance teacher say it to you over and over again.
Want to learn more?
You can still purchase the class if you missed it! I have the recording available for you to view and follow along. The class is about an hour and 15 minutes, and for only $25, you'll learn a lifetime of knowledge. All you need is one long resistance band.
Click the link to purchase the class: https://courses.bodykinect.org/courses/core
Good luck and remember to engage your core (: