When taking dance classes, many students realize that they need additional tools to advance their dancing. While some will keep plugging away at lessons where their teacher keeps saying "Stay straight!" or "Hold yourself up!" the general consensus is that there are faster and easier ways to go about learning good posture and balance.
Posture, balance, and body alignment are all essential to dance, but they are used outside of dancing as well. good posture can help decrease stress on internal organs such as the heart or lungs. Alignment in the feet can prevent future surgeries and muscle imbalances. In older populations, balance helps reduce the risk of falls while increasing miobility and activity.
Below are some of our most commonly used tools our instructors can recommend to students. Not every student will need every tool, however, any tool, if used correctly, can increase the quality of your dancing.
Tools Used for the Entire Body
Therebands can be used for a wide variety of exercises and in a wide variety of places. Most often, people are introduced to them through a Physical Therapist or personal trainer. Regardless, there are two types, a loop and a long band. Depending on the kinds of exercises you will be doing, you will need to buy the appropriate one.
Kinesiology Tape, or KT Tape, can also be used for a wide variety of issues. Most often, it is used to help stabilize and strengthen a particular area. However, KT tape can also be used to help increase blood flow by raising and stretching the fascia in the surrounding area. The raised fascia promotes healing and results in less pain and swelling in an effected area.
*There are other brands, however, this is the only one we recommend
Tools for Posture
Posture Shirts and Braces
Posture shirts and braces are used to promote good posture. While they do not replace the need to strengthen muscles, they can help to re-train muscles and encourage proper alignment. There are many types of shirts and braces, so it is important to buy the tool that corrects the part of the spine that needs it the most. Please note that braces are a more "extreme" version of the shirt, and are used when the shirts do not provide enough support.
Tools for Feet
Unfortunately, feet are one of the most neglected parts of the human body. When students come in for dance lessons, they quickly realize that if they don't take care of their feet, they will have a difficult time balancing. Below is a list of tools that can be used to help correct physical ailments in the feet. These tools can be used as preventative treatment, but we have seen these tools be so effective that they have completely removed the need for surgery.
Bunions occur when bones in the start to become unaligned. For many people it is not painful, however it can decrease a person's ability to balance. Oftentimes doctor's will recommend surgery to correct bunions, however wearing bunion correctors can decrease mis-aligned bones. Combined with other exercises, it is not uncommon to see such a drastic change in the alignment of the bones that surgery is no longer needed. As a result, we always suggest students try these first before exploring the more expensive option.
Hammertoe is an abnormal bending of the middle joint in the toe. Oftentimes, the joint wil bend downwards or outwards and can bring much discomfort for some, while almost none for others. Like bunions, when this condidtion becomes painful, doctors can often recommend surgery. Again, with early intervention these surgeries can be delayed or eliminated all together. Unlike the bunion correctors, hammertoe correctors can be worn with your regular shoes around the house.
Toe Straighteners and Separators
Toe straighteners and seperators are generally used to help stabalize and support toes that have a lot of pressure on them. Especially for dancers, these are very important because of the amount of pressue dancers place on their toes. Typically danceres will wear a toe seperator between their big toe and second toe. Another common tool is to wrap toes together if they are having a hard time receiving support.Most often, people will not even notice these are being worn.
Toe stretchers are used to exercise and strengthen the toes and the feet. Regardless of the problems a person has had in the past, stretching and exercising your toes is the single, most important exercise a dancer can do to help their feet. Most two stretchers are only supposed to be worn for a limited period of time that ranges anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Many people choose the traditional toe strechers, however, toe-socks have also become popular as they are more comfortable and can be worn around the house.