My Correction from the Last Article
So, before we begin I need to correct a statement that I mention in my earlier post. Firstly, I stated and probably insinuated that I started a new concept of running and dancing and dubbed it #RunDance. After posting it, I felt it necessary to correct myself by doing research on the benefits of running and dance and to my surprise, I will say I was living in a bit of a bubble. Indeed, dancers have always incorporated cardio exercise and running has usually been a large part of it. So the right thing to do is to do your research and now I’m here to share that knowledge with all of you.
We’re still on this bandwagon of #RunDance which is an effort to bring dance and running together as a fun way to merge something I didn’t like doing – but I know it is good for me – with something I loved and make something out of it. The concept will evolve as time goes on but this is where it begins.
The Importance and Benefits of Running
Usually in the dance world it was recommended that running was not good for dancers due to claims that it would affect your knees and make your thighs bulky. Your knees, and of course the rest of your body, is quite important for dancers and although slightly stereotypical – your thighs being bulky may not be very appealing… Well, one day we will delve in to that different topic.
We can rest assured that those claims have been debunked with research that proves that running can be beneficial to dancers like:
- Strengthening of bones from repeated bouncing
- Activating of muscles that dancers don’t usually use
- Regular running improves stamina making the heart and lungs more efficient
- Burn calories
- Lifts your mood by releasing “happy juices [hormones]” from your brain
Lessons Learned About Running
Another part of me that disliked running was when I found out that I didn’t run correctly. If you don’t run properly – as in with the use of correct running technique – you might find it to be a difficult task where reaching the of your destination is like waiting for the December holiday to arrive already while your calendar is only peeking through the middle of January.
So I would love to give you some tips on how to run properly but using dancer’s analogy:
Your view should be straight ahead to the direction you are going. I remember in my ballet class when my teacher said to me “never look at the ground, it is there to support you but you’re not going into that direction”. Her profound words are a way to remind yourself that you need to always have your head up and look intently to the direction you’re going to. Keep your head up!
Your shoulders should be relaxed and not high and tight. In dance, if you are tense, your movements will also look tense and you will feel like dancing is more of an effort than it should be. The same with running, if you are relaxed in your shoulders you will make the running look and feel effortless, which will naturally encourage your posture to be in the correct position too.
Unarm Your Arms
Swinging your arms while running should be a natural movement and should move with purpose. So you shouldn’t be swinging them frantically or faster than the pace of your legs running. When you do turns in dance, your arms play a great deal to keep the balance and your center. If your arms are all over the place, your turns will be all over the place as well. In essence, keep your arms beside you at 90degree with your hands unclenched (like how you’d greet the Queen of England with that awkward royal wave lol).
Center Your Core
By relaxing your shoulders and maintaining a posture that looks ahead, I would like to suggest you keep my dance teacher’s analogy of “stand tall” in mind. It should feel like you are being pulled by a string on the crown of your head to create a complete alignment from head to toe. This feeling is an upright position. If you feel like your “running tall” then you’re doing it right. Like any good advice, have an upright posture, you’d be surprised how it can contribute to your confidence levels while running.
Hips Don’t Lie
Your hips are your center of gravity so if they are not correctly aligned, they can cause injuries on your back. If you are conscious to keep your torso and back in a good ‘running tall’ position, you will naturally have your hips correctly aligned and maybe after the run you can dance to Hips Don’t Lie by Shakira… hahaha!
The Right Strides
“Slight knee lift, a quick leg turnover and a short stride” these are the three things that is said to make your movement more fluid. Your feet should always land directly underneath your body – otherwise your strides are too big or you could be just standing still… haha… I don’t think it is possible to run with too short strides that actually land behind your knees… unless you are running backwards… lol, I know you probably played that whole scene in your head and you laughed at yourself for trying. Okay… Moving on to my point…
It is said that “good runners are silent and they lightly bounce off the ground as they move”. Your feet should hit the ground using the section between your heel and mid foot and then as your roll onto your toes – it should feel like your calves are pushing you forward with each stride. Keep your ankles flexed.
#RunDance Workout Plan
Day 2 was the toughest one yet! Strength training! Transport with me and live in the moment when I went uphill (along with some back-up motivation). I do a victory dance at the end :).
Here’s a quick summary video of all the exercises done during the #RunDance workout plan. I would like to send a shout out to Bucie (South African artist) for this great song!!
Clearly, there is a correlation between dancing and running and we’ve learnt more about how to run properly to help you with making running less challenging. But this concept will grow and who knows, we could have an exercise plan choreographed in the street? A young #throwforward J. For now, focus on making sure that by looking ahead with graceful shoulders, unarming your arms and centering your core, you are sure to have the perfect posture for running. Because this is another way to build your confidence in dance, where your hips won’t lie and you can flex those feet to show off your ConfiDance!
So are you ready to #RunDance with me?
ConfiDance note for the day: Good results come to those who #RunDance!
Author: Neo Motshologane
Editor: Kelebogile Tlhokoe
Dance Advantage: http://www.danceadvantage.net/dance-and-running/
Runner’s World: http://www.runnersworld.com/running-tips/perfect-running-form