Health & Body

Ask Deb: How Do I Stop Dancers From Opening Their Rib Cages?

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I have a young dancer with an open rib cage problem, and I'm trying to get her to stop. What can you suggest?

This is definitely a common problem with young dancers. Have her lie on her back and breathe naturally. Ask her to imagine her rib cage like a balloon and have all areas expand and contract equally. Watch her motion as she does this. If only the abdominal area and lower ribs are moving, have her place her own hands on the sides of the rib cage and ask her to move them as evenly as she can as she inhales and exhales.

It's very common for young dancers to stand up straight by lifting the ribs instead of lengthening the spine. Something that works well for many students is to imagine the rib cage as an umbrella. The spine is the pole of the umbrella and remains long whether the cloth portion of the umbrella (the rib cage) is open (inhalation) or closed (exhalation).

To your success,

Deborah Vogel

Director, The Body Series

Got a question for Deb? E-mail askdeb@dancemedia.com, and she may answer it in an upcoming web exclusive.

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