With the Strictly Come Dancing 2017 final coming up in a few days many of us will be glued to our TV sets to see who can lift the prized Glitterball Trophy. But who doesn’t watch secretly yearning to be able to work full time on their dancing? Who wouldn’t want to get into great shape, overcome a few obstacles, mental and physical, and move like you’ve never moved before?
As a Sports Therapist I can’t promise you a place on next year’s Strictly but what I can help you with is movement. Having watched Strictly for many years I’ve always been fascinated by the movement and control on display from professionals and celebrities alike. I’ve analyzed where it all comes from and present to you my findings here to help you with your amateur gyrations!
Where’s The Limitation?
So what is it that separates the professionals from the amateurs? What’s the difference between good and bad amateurs? To my mind it’s all in the hips darling! There’s nothing worse than watching a John Sergeant, Jeremy Vine or Ed Balls stomp stiffly across the dance floor. I feel embarrassed for them.
Watching these people you think they’re beyond hope. But some of them do improve. It is possible. As a geeky Sports Therapist I’m always watching trying to work out what I could do to release a stiff pelvis, address a sickle foot or tidy up a ‘spatulistic’ hand.
As a little aside I’d just like to doff my hate to Johnny Peacock this series. I mean wow. As a lover of movement, just wow. To be able to move with a good amount of speed and grace without feeling the floor on one side was just amazing to watch. Obviously Johnny lost his foot when he was very young so he doesn’t know any other way. But for me there was sheer joy in the incredible adaptability of the human body and progress in prosthetic technology that his graceful movement demonstrated.
How Do I Get This Movement In The Pelvis?
So the million dollar question. How do we get more mobile in the pelvis? Having decided this was the crux of the post I had to come up with something good! The truth is that as many exercises as there are in the physiotherapy world there aren’t that many specific to dancing. Most physiotherapy exercises require more control – something I don’t often agree with. For this exercise we needed to loosen up. A lot.
After a good cup of tea and a nice sit down it came to me. Strangely I had a flash back to my drunken youth. As a young Sports Therapist I was always intrigued by my own drunken dancing. Why was my jiggling of my pelvis so much better one way than the other? A rare and scary insight into the mind of Sports Therapists and their inability to switch off from the job!
Tea had given me the exercise we all needed to loosen up that pelvis. I tried it. I liked it. It worked. But I wanted to check it out. As you’ll see in the demonstration video shortly I am no dancer. Sportsman yes, dancer no. I wanted to run my idea past someone who would tell me exactly what they thought of the exercise.
I consulted my good friend Simone Clark from Star Pilates who happens to also be a dance graduate. I didn’t tell her my exercise I simply asked her for her best exercise from her combined Pilates and dancing career to help the general public loosen their pelvi – that is plural of pelvis right? To my immense pride she described exactly the exercise I had just shot for the video. I had my validation. So here it is:
I sincerely hope that your eyes aren’t bleeding after all that Sports Therapist gyration! I felt genuinely great after doing it and have continued to do it daily. Not in front of clients you’ll be relieved to hear!
When you’re having a go really focus in on your own body and build up the movement gradually. For so many of us the pelvis and low back is one big block of wood. It can at first be difficult to disassociate the two. But you can do it… especially after one of our lovely treatments!
How Do I Stay Loose Through The Pelvis?
So that’s our pelvis loosened. How do we keep it that way? Lets talk hip joints. The hip and pelvis is remarkably similar anatomically to the shoulder blade and humerus in the arm. If you turn the pelvis 90 degrees it really looks like a shoulder. Just a lot bigger and more stable. The point here is that the pelvis and hip joint work together to achieve the movement that we want. If the movement of the femur (leg bone) is compromised in anyway it causes a compensation in the pelvis.
Our next exercise is to ensure that the hip joint works as effectively as it can. This was Simone’s second choice of exercise to help keep the pelvis unit loose. It’s very much not a physio exercise. Very much in the Pilates realm. An excellent beautifully simple exercise. When doing it your really need to focus on your body and how it feels. Something many of us struggle with.
So now we have a pelvis and associated joints loose enough to do Strictly proud. I can feel a salsa coming on already, maybe even a samba! But how do we maintain this? Well lets look at why there are so many people with tight pelvis out there. We could look to obvious sexual connotations. After all we are British. But I think this is an outdated British stereo type. Us Brits are all fantastic lovers I’m sure! I think more to blame is the speed of modern life. It is easy to get beaten down by the ferocious pace of the 21st century and getting by. This can leave us exhausted and with posture to match.
That slumped in your chair look that is so popular in the run up to Christmas. The exercises we’ve demonstrated above should help you maintain better posture. But many people don’t actually know what position they should be in. This next video will give you a way to find exactly where you need to be. Everyone is different of course and that is why this way of finding pelvic neutral is so good.
Finally how do we hold ourselves in the this position? Our core muscles. Just a 30% contraction that’s all. How many times have we heard Darcey Bussell’s feedback “… if you can just tighten that core a little more.” Well this is how to do it. Killing three birds with one stone. Tightening up your core. Enabling you sit better for long duration. And, ironically, by tightening your core it loosens your pelvis. When your core muscles function correctly the muscles that have been holding you stiff to compensate elongate and give you a better samba pelvis.
The Psychology Of A Mobile Pelvis
One final word and that’s emotion. I know we’re British and don’t like to talk about it but that downtrodden traditional British mentality of soldiering on doesn’t help. Inevitably it gets to us and we slump, exhausted in our chairs causing a tight pelvis and limiting our ability to dance. We talk in great length about such issues in our Blog linking stress and pain if you’d like some more information on this important connection.
So go for it in front of the Strictly Final this weekend. Dance like no one is watching. And if they are watching it’ll only be your nearest and dearest and they’ll love you all the more for it. It’s important to enjoy the journey of life. Isn’t that what all the best Strictly contestants say… “it’s been an enjoyable life changing journey.” So get out there with your loose as a goose pelvis. Turn Dad Dancing into great dancing. Enjoy this years final and don’t forget… keeeeep dancing!