Heart Opener

One year into business at the GLORIOUS 75th and Antioch Performance Rehab location my partner, Kendra Gage, and I are continuing our mission to provide preventative and rehabilitative care to the dancer, gymnast and performing arts community of greater Kansas City. We are rewarded on a daily basis as another talented artist walks into the door with a smile on their face and leaves feeling hopeful, stronger, more mobile with a HUGE smile. We are fortunate to be trusted by such talented individuals and thankful for them keeping us on our toes.

Let me just geek here for a moment. . . Problem solving is sooooo much fun! This exercise I decided to focus on three main things!

  1. Heart  Opener
  2. Standing Leg and Pelvic Stability (in external rotation)
  3. Lengthening of Quadriceps, Iliacus and Psoas on working leg and strengthening of standing leg (opposition)

Now take a look at these lovely ladies demonstrating a 4th position turned out lunge from the reformer. When I asked them how they felt after completing this exercise, they gave me feedback that they immediately felt “more lifted out of their hips and more open in their chest.” The next day they told me they felt more stable in ballet class.

Enjoy these lovely ladies and if you are in the Kansas City community feel free to stop by!

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Movement

Movement?

It’s everywhere.  Anytime.  Infinite.

A step. A swipe. A push. A nod. A smile. A grab. A tap. A shake. A word. A reaction. An action. A calmness. A flow. A tear. A chop. A scoop. A current. A complacent answer. A grind. A order. A fast hand typing. A carry. A creation. A lookout. A pickup. A gesture. A taste. A heartbeat. A breath.

I observed these particular movements on my coffee break from Septime Weber’s rehearsal day of Alice at KCB.  Then I sat back & thought. . . Why is movement so interesting?

What makes a dancer’s movement contagious, or subjectively liked more than another? Just like at the coffee shop, movement which has purpose – a clear determination – flows & has a sense of appeal.

If you dance & are reading this or do anything that includes movement – everything – I want you to think about why you do what you do.  Believe in it and move with a sense of confidence.  If you are wrong you will soon learn.  Pick it back up, fix the problem, and keep on moving forward.  One movement at a time.

Here are some images of movement.  Beautiful movement from one position to another from our festival show, Kansas City Dance Festival (KCDF).

I hope you all have a great rest of the week!

photo 1KCDF dancer (2014) Gabriel Davidsson.  Photo credit: Paul Garcellano.

photo 3 copyDancers: Molly Wagner, Kaleena Burks, & Tempe Ostergren. Photo Credit: Paul Garcellano

photo 2Dancer: Gabriel Davidsson.  Photo credit: Paul Garcellano

 

Love Eats – Nutcracker Inspired Granola!

“Let your food be your medicine and let your medicine be your food” – Hippocrates

What could be better than a chock full of grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and natural sweeteners for a Nutcracker or simply holiday “busy” time pick me up than a recipe for power bars/granola! Okay, maybe there are better things, lots of better things, but when it comes to food and it’s fueling “pick me up power” dancehealthier rates this an A+!

What’s great about this recipe is that is very adaptable.  You can omit the nuts or dried fruit, or eggs (for a vegan option), or even add some chocolate morsels for a sweetened touch! Give it a try and let dancehealthier and others know what you think.

First thing’s first:  Ingredients

6          cups old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)

1¼         cups chopped nuts, such as raw almonds, pistachios, walnuts, pecans or a combination (optional)

¼         cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sunflower seeds

¼         cup ground flaxseed or toasted wheat germ, or a combination

¾         cup ground cinnamon

3          large egg whiles

¾         teaspoon coarse salt

¾         cup sweetener, such as honey, agave, or unsulfured molasses

¼          cup of extra-virgin olive oil

1¼          cup coarsely dried fruit, such as sour cherries, cranberries, currants, raisins, apricots, figs, or pineapple

Now for the Cooking:  Easy Easy

  1. Preheat oven to 350 deg F.  In a bowl, combine oats, nuts (if using,) pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, and cinnamon. In another bowl, whisk together egg whites and salt until frothy.  Add honey and oil, and whisk to combine.  Stir into oat mixture until combined.
  2. Spread mixture in even layers on two rimmed baking sheets.  Bake for 20 minutes; remove from oven, and use a spatula to gently flip and move bar slightly away from outer edges.  Return to oven, and continue to cook until golden brown, about 10 minutes more.  Cool completely on sheets and add in dried fruit and chocolate if desired. This recipe works best as granola but could also be used as a bar if desired (may just have to indulge a bit more on the honey/agave, or sweetener agent).

**Thanks to all dancehealthier readers and subscribers for all of your support so far. If interested, you may subscribe to dancehealthier at the right hand side of the homepage.  You will only be e-mailed when new posts are published. Dancehealthier also has a facebook page.  To check it out, click HERE!  Feel free to make a comment or contact me via e-mail at dancehealthier@gmail.com.

An internal Relationship

In referring back to last week’s Movement Wednesday post titled, Our Own Unique Strength, I will continue my efforts for the next couple of weeks on the idea of strength.  To dive in a little deeper on the educational aspect of how a muscle actually works, we need to understand the muscles relationship with the brain and spinal cord, also known as the Central Nervous System (CNS).

In order to understand this relationship clearly, I believe it is important to understand the importance of proprioception:

  • Proprioception simply means the perception of movement and position of the parts of your body.
  • Proprioceptors are sensory receptors located in your tendons, joints, muscles, and other connective tissues.
  • Proprioception informs the brain about positions of numerous body parts, which is important in muscle memory.
  • Proprioceptive (sensory) information is carried from the muscle, or connective tissue, to the brain by a synapse through an ascending tract (EASY: Spinal cord to the brain – upward direction) where it perceives the information and responds accordingly.  In response, the brain sends the appropriate motor response to the muscle, or connective tissue.

This relationship enables both conscious awareness of proprioception as well as unconscious neuromuscular functions.  Today in rehearsal, a friend said to me, “Was my knee straight when I landed from the tour jete?”  Before I could answer the dancer responded, “I think it was, I had the feeling.”  In dance, we constantly work for that “feeling” we know is right.  How important is proprioception to our work?  I’m sure we can all agree that it is more than important.  Proprioception is important in our progress, our understanding of what’s right and wrong with our movement, our automatic unconscious understanding of movement, our injuries, our posture, our strength.  The list could go on and on!

A proprioception stretch:  A chiropractor recently gave me this stretch, and I thought it would be useful to today’s post.

2×4 Stretch: Stand with the balls of you feet on the 2×4, heels on the ground.  Stand straight as you can 2 minutes first thing in the morning and 2 minutes last thing at night everyday for at least 4 weeks.  (Remember to wear shoes when you do this). 

– This was given for Pelvic-Sacral proprioception. –

References:  Marieb, Elaine N. and Mitchell, Susan J. “Ninth Edition – Human Anatomy & Physiology Laboratory Manual.” Pearson Education, Inc., 2011.

Our own Unique Strength

“. . . a good archer can shoot further with a medium – strong bow than an unspiritual archer can with the strongest.  It does not depend on the bow, but on the presence of mind, on the vitality and awareness with which you shoot.”                                                    Eugene Herrigel – Zen in the Art of Archery

Thank you dancer, Josh Bodden (Cincinnati Ballet)

The study of Human Anatomy proves that there is a basic structural map of our bodies. Body surfaces, landmarks, planes, sections, cavities, quadrants, regions, organs, tissues, bones, cartilages, skeletal bones & muscles, blood vessels, and nerves work together to create a structure that naturally appeals to our curiosity.  Despite this structural map, no one human body is the same as another.   Ellen Jacob describes it best in her book titled, Dancing, when she states, “You don’t need a perfect body to dance well; you need a feeling for movement and music, a sense of rhythm and good coordination – anatomy is not destiny, but understanding your individual body and how to work with it is.”

I decided to focus the next couple Movement Wednesdays on the idea of Strength, and how with proper attention and functioning it helps to fine tune and classify each dancer as unique in his/her own way.  In order to create beautiful movement – or any movement really – our muscles must move smoothly in a way that is not overly taxing, yet supported, on our bones and joints.  Strength helps a dancer jump, turn, lift a limb, stabilize, succumb fatigue, and have the confidence to move in a way that “just feels right.”  Some of us have strength more naturally than others, some build it easier than others, but we all have the capability to increase our source of skeletal power in someway.

To understand the technicality of strength – it is quite simple.  Muscles fall into two basic groups.  Agonists (biceps in picture above) contract or shorten while antagonists (triceps in picture above) oppose the agonist by relaxing or lengthening.  The work of these two muscle groups synchronize to produce movement.  The power of contraction, or strength, depends on its gradient of action potentials (think of how a sparkler works – the spark is the action potential, how it travels down the sparkler is the gradient and the light is the end product or movement in this case) which can increase in efficiency with time, energy and strength building.  How the body knows when and how to actually perform this muscle action, is a post for another day.  One clue – CNS!

References:
  • Jacob, Ellen. “Dancing – A guide for the Dancer You Can Be.” Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1981.
  • Marieb, Elaine N. and Mitchell, Susan J. “Ninth Edition – Human Anatomy & Physiology Laboratory Manual.” Pearson Education, Inc., 2011.