During seated stretches, I encourage my students to sit straight on their sits bones and then fold forward at the hips—even if they don't go forward very far. One student tells me that if she sits as I instruct, she can't reach forward at all. Why?
I was taught to consistently squeeze my gluteals when dancing, to assist in turnout, and have encouraged my students to do the same. Recently, though, I experimented with relaxing these muscles and have discovered immediate relief from chronic hip pain. Have I been teaching my students incorrectly all along?
One of my dancer friends was told by a doctor that she had reverse curve in her spine due to constant forward curves, head-tail movements and backward rolls. Do you have any advice for how to remedy or prevent this?
When I am lying down on my back with my feet together and knees apart and press down on my knees, my hips pop. It feels really good. However, now when my hips don't pop, they hurt, and my lower back starts to hurt as well. What do I do to get them to pop, and is it even healthy?
Photo by Jim Lafferty; modeled by Sydney Magruder, courtesy of Broadway Dance Center
"If you don't have strong abdominal muscles, you sag into your lower back, your pelvis usually tips and you're hanging out and slumped into your hip joints," says Deborah Vogel, movement analyst, neuromuscular expert and co-founder of the Center for Dance Medicine in New York City. "It just has this whole chain reaction."
The effects of poor core strength can be dire for dancers: from weak and tight hip flexors, which negatively impact extensions, to lower-back discomfort and misaligned shoulders and necks. "Having well-toned abdominals for your posture is the primary reason why you should do stabilizing exercises," says Vogel. "It will allow you to bring your pelvis into correct alignment and good posture."