This is a blog article I wrote for another Pilates Website. It explains why so many people (besides dancers) are so drawn to the Zen of Pilates. It is by far the safest and most effective form of movement I have ever experienced, especially now. Enjoy!
Why are dancers, specifically ballerinas, so drawn to Pilates? A dancer doesn’t
achieve elite status easily. It takes years of grueling physical movement, as well as daily dance classes and many performances before gaining that title. The constant strain on the body eventually gives way to enormous undue stress on muscles and joints. The body must be properly cared or injuries are more likely to occur. To maintain their phenomenal abilities, dancers need a tried and true supplementary training program to stay loose, lean, and incredibly strong. Pilates is a given for this (McKinnon, Margo., & Etlin-Stein, H.). Ballerinas turn to Pilates for a multitude of reasons. Let’s start with perhaps, the most significant one of all. Pilates continues to stand the test of time, and it truly works (Martin, R.). Dance researchers, clinicians and educators all agree that professional dancers need training, in addition to dance classes, to maintain their physical longevity. With mat Pilates sessions, dancers are able to keep their bodies lean and powerful. Through carefully crafted slow movements, attention is placed on the importance of deep core strength and fluidity. Fluidity of movement helps to keep one’s range of motion strong. Let’s not forget the benefits for maintaining flexibility (McKinnon, M., & Etlin-Stein, H). Dance class alone does not provide the necessary physical adaptations to ensure optimal performance and reduced risk of injury. As physical and mental pressure build during constant classes and rehearsals, one’s mind/body connection tends to be put on the back burner. Dancers are able to gently reconnect with their bodies through Pilates(Cassidy, M.). Lana Jones, a Prima Ballerina with the The Australian Ballet, believes that adding Pilates to her ballet regimen has enhanced her dancing ten-fold. The focus during a Pilates class is on core strength, proper alignment and lengthening techniques. These areas are especially important in keeping a dancer’s body strong. She also points out that Pilates has given her the ability to tap into her body’s breath and nuances. As she focuses on her breathing, she once again makes that mind/body connection (Burnett, J.). Another reason why dancers turn to Pilates is for injury prevention. Constant repetitive movements and jumping can lead to serious injury. Research has shown that dance classes don’t focus on the necessary muscle elongation exercises, nor core strength techniques to protect one’s body from being hurt (McKinnon, Margo & Etlin,-Stein, Hannah). Pilates focuses on injury prevention by incorporating exercises to keep a body safe and limber. Injuries may still happen even when the strength is there. Pilates is a fabulous way to rehabilitate dance based injuries because the movements are gentle and can be modified to meet individual needs. With all the research that has been done around Pilates and its fabulous benefits, just think of what Pilates can do for you! You don’t have to be an elite dancer to gain the many benefits from Mat classes. Whether you are coming back from injury, looking to strengthen your core, or refine your body, look no further. You have arrived! Come on in and see for yourself.
💓 I will put my pointe shoes back on one day once I am ready! That's the goal 💓
References Amorim, T. & Wyon, M. Pilates Technique for Improving Dancers’ Performance. IADMS Bulletin for Dancers and Teachers. 2014;5(2). Martin, R. Why do elite dancers like Pilates? Dance Informa Australian Edition. 2015. Retrieved from https://dancemagazine.com.au/2015/07/new-zealand-dance-news-july-2/ McKinnon, M & Etlin-Stein, H. Pilates: A natural choice for dancers. International Association for Dance Medicine & Science.November, 2015. Retrieved from IADMS.com