HEALTHY TIPS and STRETCHES
Here is a video by Frances Dunne demonstrating a great set of hip mobility stretches that will help to turn out and cross feet, without compromising your knees and carriage. Ms. Dunne is a retired Irish dancer and personal trainer. Follow her on Facebook at "Fitness Formula for Irish Dance" for some great tips and exercises.
SQUATS: Okay so this is the first movement, and this is the one most commonly done with bad technique. The key lies in using your hips to 'hinge' rather than you knees- i.e. pushing BACK with your bum first rather than going 'down'.
In theory, you should be able to get your bum to your heels whilst maintaining a neutral spine (flat back) but tight muscles will cause a limited range of motion. Reaching parallel with the tops of your legs is where you should aim to be as a minimum!
Make sure you are not 'hunching' over, and that your knees are in line with your feet and hips, not knocking inwards.
As you do the movement, sit back as though you were sitting on a chair, and push through your heels whilst engaging (squeezing) your bum as you stand.
**Why are they good?**
Stronger Glute muscles stabilise your whole body, while stonger Hamstrings and Quads will mean you can jump higher, move faster, and bang louder.
PRESS UPS: One of the best exercises for Core and upper body strength! Make sure your body is in a perfectly straight line from your shoulders through your hips to your ankles.
Start with arms straight and hands directly underneath your shoulders, then lower your body to the floor making sure to keep your body in a straight line and moving 'as one'. When you get to within an inch of the floor, push back up!
It is really important in press ups to make sure your hips are tilted under (forward) i.e. keeping your stomach muscles short and your back long. This will make sure your spine stays supported, and also strengthen those all important core muscles.
**Why are they good?**
Press ups strengthen your triceps (the muscle on the back of your arm) and so aid in keeping your arms straight. They also strengthen your trunk as a whole, and teach your body to keep straight while moving.
REVERSE LUNGES: So Lunges, similarly to squats, work your lower body. The difference being they require a lot more stabilisation from your core.
When you do a lunge, make sure that your torso in in line with your back leg, with both knees at roughly 90 degrees. This means that you need to make sure you step back far enough! It is better to go too far than too little.
(Lunges can also be done stepping forward, but reverse lunges hit the glutes more, and need a little more balance)
As with the squat, make sure you push through your heel as you stand to make sure you activate the right muscles. Stand up to feet back together, then lunge back with the opposite leg.
All the time make sure your core is engaged (holding it nice and tight) and make the movement as smooth as possible.
**Why are they good?**
Lunges require hip flexor mobility and strength, which is one of the key components of Irish Dancing. They also fire your Glute muscles, and prepare your body to work unilaterally, i.e. one sided.
MORE TO COME!
Click HERE to go to our WARM UP Exercises Page
MAKE SURE YOU'RE YOUR BODY IS PREPARED FOR DANCING!
Now there are a multitude of diets/ patterns of eating out there all with different ethos's (fasted training, carb cycling, Paleo eating) but each person is different, and what works for one may not work for another! So please just eat Sensible!
It is a MYTH that skipping breakfast will make you put on weight, but it will make you more likely to snack and/or binge later on in the day. So that means if you're going to have an 'on the go' breakfast, you'd be better off WAITING until you can have a proper meal. This will make sure your stomach responds to the meal and feel full, which will stop you wanting to reach for that tin of Quality Streets ;) (over the Christmas break anyway!)
Also be sure to include some form of protein, such as meat, eggs, or even nuts. This will ensure that your body stays in an energy burning mode due to the length of time it takes to break these foods down, as well as making sure you have the nutrients necessary to build and repair muscle.
When it comes to meals and what eat, use this format as a guideline:
Breakfast: 1x protein + 1 extra
e.g. Beans on toast (wholemeal!), Bacon and egg
Lunch: 1x protein + 1x veg
e.g. Tuna/ Ham/ Chicken Salad
Dinner: 1x protein + 1x veg + 1x carb
e.g. Salmon, Broccoli, Sweet Potato