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A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms (karma: 7)
By seannettaPremium member
On Fri Nov 21, 2008 11:26 AM
Made sticky by TheMidlakeMuse (78507) on 2008-12-08 19:53:07 Stickyfied!

I've seen a lot of posts on posture/arms/carriage in recent months, so I thought it might be helpful to condense all the tips & tricks into one post. So here's...

A Guide to Perfect Posture, Carriage and Arms

Working on the Core
This is the most important thing of all. You need strong abs--and a strong lower back--to hold yourself up when you dance. If the core is not strong, you'll be wobbly. You'll use your arms when you jump because you're compensating for a weak core. You'll hunch forward when you kick for the same reason. In short, strengthening the core is something we do not do enough of as Irish dancers, because it doesn't seem important at first. But it's essential to dancing nice and straight and tall, which is exactly what we're required to do.

There are a few different approaches to strengthening the core. A Pilates program--whether it's taking a local class or following along with a video--is an excellent start. Pilates is all about core strengthening. And this doesn't just mean sit ups - it means strengthening all muscles in the abdominal group, from your lower abs to upper abs to your obliques, and also your lower back too. If you've never done Pilates before, please at least attend one class with a professional trainer first, before doing it on your own at home. The positioning and technique are very important to this form of exercise.

Here are some Pilates resources that could help:
www.jillianhessel.com . . .
www.pilatesdigest.com . . .

Other core exercises:
Simple ab exercises will help. There are a lot out there these days, from stability ball work to fancy machines. But really, just some crunches will help a lot. Make sure you do a variety, however--you want to target all muscles of the abs, not just the upper abs (which are the ones engaged when you do a basic sit-up).

Some examples:
--Regular crunch: lie down with knees bent, hands behind ears; lift your upper body to about halfway to a sitting position, lower and repeat. Do NOT use your hands to pull on the back of your head, and do NOT strain your neck. You want your core to do all the work. Keep your neck and head in line with the rest of your body. Breathe OUT as you lift up.
--Oblique crunch: Do the same as a regular crunch, but bring your elbow to opposite knee (i.e. right elbow crosses body to touch left knee as you lift up, then straighten and lower back down, then repeat with left elbow to right knee, and so on).
--Lower abs crunch: Lie down and lift your legs straight in the air. Lift your hips off the ground slightly as you raise your upper back off the ground. Lower and repeat. Careful with this one if you have any lower back problems.
--The bicycle: Lie flat on the ground with legs straight and your hands behind your ears. Now lift both legs about an inch off the floor, keeping them straight, and lift your head slightly. Now, keeping the right leg hovering an inch above the ground, bend your left leg and bring it in towards your chest, as you lift your upper body off the ground and bring your right elbow to touch that left knee. Now switch--straighten your left leg (but don't let it touch the ground!) as you bring right knee to left elbow.
--Balancing crunch: Sit on the ground with legs straight out in front of you. Now lean back slightly and lift both your legs off the ground, finding your balance so that you can stay in this position. Lift your arms straight above your head. Now bend both knees and bring them into your chest, as you lean forward and bring your arms down over your knees. Now straighten out again, making sure that neither your legs nor your back touch the ground--you're balancing on your tailbone the whole time.
--The plank: Get into a pushup postion--balancing on your toes, body perfectly straight (don't stick your bum in the air--it should be level with the rest of your body). Now instead of balancing on your hands, lower so that you're resting on your forearms, with your shoulders positioned over your elbows and hands pointing forwards. Hold this position--with only your toes and forearms touching the ground--as long as you possibly can. It's brutally hard, but it works virtually every muscle in your body, including your core.

Other Posture Tricks
Now that you've got your core strengthened, staying straight as you dance should be a lot easier. But there are still some tricks to keeping arms by your sides and your back straight.

**One very important thing to note is that you do NOT want to simply push your shoulders back. That can force you into an unhealthy and unnatural position. Good posture is about a neutral but straight body. You do NOT want your shoulder blades "kissing" or your chest sticking out too much, nor too much of a curve in your back.**

Here are some tips, culled from many past posts on the subject:
--Visualization: Stand, and imagine a string that runs through the core of your body. It starts at your toes and exits out through the top of your head. Now imagine someone pulling on that string at the top of your head. Imagine your waist lengthening, space increasing between each rib, your neck growing longer. Now hold that as you let your shoulders drop naturally. That's the position you want to hold when you dance.
--Holding objects: Some find that a physical reminder helps. Holding small objects in your hands as you dance can help remind you to keep your arms straight. Or hold a long stick with both hands, behind your back, to keep them in place until the body learns to keep them there.
--Watch the evidence: Sometimes watching a tape of yourself dancing can help you understand the extent of your posture problem, and how much you need to fix it.
--Fix the posture in your non-dancing life: Do you sit up straight when you're working at your desk, or eating at the kitchen table, or do you slouch? How do you stand when you're just hanging out with your friends? When you're walking to work or school? If you have bad posture in everyday life, this will carry over to your dancing life. Be conscious of how you are standing and sitting throughout the day, and it will help you be more conscious of how your body holds itself when you dance.

37 Replies to A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms

re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By seannettaPremium member
On Fri Nov 21, 2008 01:50 PM
But wait! There's more! If I haven't blathered on enough already, I just found this link to an excellent article about ballet dance posture, which is certainly also applicable to us Irish dancers. Check it out:

www.nbs-enb.ca . . .
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By Curly_girl
On Fri Nov 21, 2008 02:38 PM
Sticky!!!
Great post!! This is exactly what I NEED to work on, so this is very helpful. Thanks!
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By DutchShamrock
On Sat Nov 22, 2008 08:58 AM
Totally agree. This needs to be a sticky.
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By treblemaker889
On Sun Nov 23, 2008 10:59 AM
thanks so much seannetta! i've been loking all over for a post like this. Sticky!!!
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By CelticAngel
On Mon Dec 08, 2008 07:52 PM
There are only so many ways to work on posture etc, and you have covered them all so well! Hopefully this well help many people out and prevent us having to answer the same questions over and over.

Thanks and well done!
(have alerted the mods for a possible sticky :) )
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By IrishLisa
On Tue Dec 16, 2008 05:22 PM
Oh my God!! This is a great post! I really appreciate all of the info...Our school has been really stressing posture and arms lately which is good. I know I could use a little help with this at times!!
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By becca1825
On Wed Jan 28, 2009 10:28 AM
This is exactly what my dance teacher has been nagging me about recently. Thanks so much :)
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By E111Premium member
On Wed Jan 28, 2009 11:36 AM
Thank you!
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By IDDMAMA
On Tue May 05, 2009 05:55 PM
This is a really great sticky. I am always looking for ways to improve and these exercises will help a lot.
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By kittyflo
On Fri May 08, 2009 06:17 PM
great amount of information now remember why my teacher pushes us so much she is hot on posture
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By ardronan
On Tue Jun 09, 2009 04:23 PM
Great post. What does a sticky mean?
How can I get my younger < 10years dancers to get this. Any simple tricks for wee ones?
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By Cinnawiz
On Tue Jun 09, 2009 06:02 PM
ardronan wrote:

What does a sticky mean?
How can I get my younger < 10years dancers to get this. Any simple tricks for wee ones?



A sticky means that the post will always be at the top of the page. The only way it "falls off" the front page is if they take away it's sticky status.

My teacher always uses the paper under the arms trick. Works for all ages.
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By Kati_Leigh
On Tue Nov 10, 2009 08:10 AM
Thank you so much for posting this! I know that I need stronger abs for dancing. haha
Thanks Again!
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By GraniaPremium member
On Sat Apr 03, 2010 03:30 PM
Great post!

I use my core as much as possible during crunches and other core exercises, but find that there's still a certain amount of strain on the neck. Any help for NOT straining the neck?

~Grania
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By irishdancer701
On Mon Apr 19, 2010 01:46 PM
Wow thank you very much that helps a lot!
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By Grettia
On Thu May 13, 2010 10:20 PM
Thanks so much. Can't wait to show my daughter this in the morning.
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By DinoDancer
On Mon Sep 27, 2010 07:16 AM
My teacher gives us paper plates to hold between our arms and our sides to keep our arms in. She says for us to hold the "fine china!" Also, my mom did this to me, if you're having trouble with holding your arms in, duck tape them to yourself so they HAVE to stay in! haha. It helped me alot!
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By dancingthrulife1
On Wed Jan 12, 2011 12:48 PM
^Careful with that one :P If you slip you won't be able to put your arms out to catch you.
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By celticmomof3
On Sun Jan 30, 2011 11:01 AM
This is a great post it has helped with my daughter's training.
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By Pipp
On Mon Mar 21, 2011 02:45 PM
This is very helpful! Thank you so much for the time you took to post all of this on this wonderful website!!!
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By dancingbullet
On Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:54 PM
if you do this core work out every day how long will it take to work !!??
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By Lcsthill
On Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:12 PM
Wow, this is great!!!! Just what I've been looking for.
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By feismum
On Sun Feb 12, 2012 12:18 PM
I've always been very critical of my DD with her posture etc. I even directed her to this sticky. I started Irish dancing a couple of months ago and now totally sympathise with all you dancers. I have no core strength and am being told I lean forward too much. At 43 I don't mind so much!

Can I just say what a fabulous thread and congratulations to all you dancers who have great posture and arms etc. You are all stars to me.
re: A guide to perfect posture, carriage and arms
By champion_
On Mon Mar 26, 2012 06:43 PM
Excellent post, my dance teacher goes crazy at me for these problems!! thank you :)
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