In the world of fitness most core exercises are created equal.
If you’ve hung out with me enough you know that dancers are a special type of athlete which means their fitness needs should be carefully crafted for their goals of strength, fluidity, endurance, power and grace.
Core exercises are a staple in most warm ups, practices and technique classes so it’s important that your dancers are spending their time doing exercises that are going to help them:
1. Strengthen their entire core (front and back of the torso).
2. Help them pull their belly button up and in.
3. Allow them to hold their core while also breathing, keeping the rib cage tucked and supporting the arms and legs.
Whew. Those abs are busy.
– Exercises to Avoid –
1. Crunching / Rolling : Think traditional crunches, reverse crunches or curl ups. These cause the abdominal muscles to build themselves outward and strains the neck. The opposite of zipping the belly in toward the spine.
2. Twisting: Russian twists and bicycle crunches put a lot of pressure on the midline of the abs and most people use their quads and hips instead, which can lead to tight hip flexors and pain in the low back.
3. Ab Machines: Head into any gym and you’ll see ab machines designed to crunch and twist your body further than it’s meant to move. There are too many variables to get wrong when using an ab machine like weight, reps and form, so keep it safe and keep your core work on the ground.
– Scoop Your Abs –
This exercise keeps your low back glued to the floor, rib cage down and belly zipped up which gives dancers the ” ab scoop” we’re always aiming for. To make it more difficult, extend on leg at a time. ONLY if you can keep your low back down, can you move on to extending both legs at a time.
– Classic Plank –
Planking is one of the best exercises for dancers because it works almost every muscle in the body. Help your dancers keep their belly pulled in by telling them to tuck their hips under. To make it challenging, alternate going from elbows to hands OR extending one arm or one leg.
– Cobra Pose –
We can’t talk about the front of the core without the back! Cobra pose is a fantastic way to activate the muscles in the low back which can help dancers keep their hips tucked, belly pulled in and glutes activated.