Forum: Irish / Irish

Training Exercises to Get Back Into Dance!
By little_giry
On Tue Dec 30, 2014 08:32 AM

Hello!

I used to Irish dance in high school, and I progressed to prelims, before personal things and scheduling and later college all got in the way, so I ended up taking a hiatus. Well, I thought I had quit, but I have recently spoken to the other dance school in my area and am planning to begin private lessons in the new year, aiming to get up to speed enough to join regular classes soon thereafter! First class after five or six years, wow.

I am trying to begin a stretching/conditioning regimen at home to do daily as I prepare to return to classes. I'd like to continue to do it as part of daily practice once I learn steps, as well.

What kind of stretches and strengthening exercises? I am extremely concerned about turnout flexibility and strength. When I danced before I injured my hips from not turning out correctly, so I am doing a lot of hip stretches to ease myself back in and ensure proper turnout technique. I feel so out of practice, though! I know I want to add more exercises and different stretches, I just don't know what. Any tips would be very, very appreciated!

2 Replies to Training Exercises to Get Back Into Dance!

re: Training Exercises to Get Back Into Dance!
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Dec 30, 2014 12:59 PM
One thing to consider is that, unless you've been doing some sort of intense anaerobic exercise at home while not dancing, you are also going to need to worry about your cardiovascular fitness. In other words, don't expect to do a three-step reel on your first class back -- or at least not full-out. Give your lungs and heart the time they need to build up to full strength again.

When it comes to strengthening, there's lots of stuff you can do related to turnout. If you need more hip-loosening, one exercise my physiotherapist gave me to to get into basically a "crab" position (sit on your butt on the floor, then lift your butt up by supporting yourself on your hands and feet). Now move one knee towards the ground, in the direction of the other leg. But keep that foot of the moving knee on the ground. Stop pushing your knee toward the ground when your foot starts lifting off the floor.

Hip strengthening...Again, my PT makes me do these. Lie on your side, legs stacked. Lift the top leg and turn IN your foot as far as it will go. Lift and lower the leg in this position, lowering it to tap your toes on the floor in front of your resting leg. You can also bend the knee and tap it on the floor, then straighten it again.

Glue strength is also really important, and so is stabilization. Try standing in both parallel and turnout (do a few reps of each) with the following: balancing on one leg, arms straight up in the air, while you slowly lean forward (keep your back straight) and let your other leg extend behind you, kinda like extending into a very informal ballet arabesque. Do it with your supporting leg on your toes, if you can.

You can also work this area well by standing in turnout, then moving your working leg from a front point to a back point (kind of like doing a ballet "ronde de jammbe"), but you have to stop in the back when you start to lean or move the hips -- you may not be able to extend it into a fully extended point behind you.

Finally, foot and upper leg stabilization is present in this exercise, where you keep your feet in a "half" raised position (i.e. go up as high as you can on your toes, then lower to half that height). Do squats with feet parallel, with feet in first position (keep heels glued together), and in 2nd position. Keep your back straight (this is more like a ballet plie than a workout squat), and only go down as far as you can until you start to lose your balance on your toes.

Anyway, these are all excellent exercises to use throughout your dancing career, whatever it may be, because they help strengthen muscle groups that are often weak in Irish dancers. But like I said before, your biggest challenge when you get back will probably be stamina. Don't rush that process; you can injure yourself if you do.
re: Training Exercises to Get Back Into Dance!
By little_giry
On Tue Dec 30, 2014 05:35 PM
Thank you so much for such a detailed response! That is all extremely helpful and I will definitely include all that I can when making a workout plan. And such a good point about stamina! I will be sure to add some cardio work as well. Thanks again!!

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