Whether you love to do traditional American or Western style dances such as Ballet, Tap, Jazz, or Modern or if you prefer some of the more influential world dances such as Tahitian, African, Afro-Brazilian, Middle Eastern, or Hawaiian dances, you need to save your knees. Longevity is the key. Dance doesn’t just increase our cardio, make us more flexible, challenge our minds, it is also spiritually lifting. If you love dancing, if you’ve discovered that passion within yourself, it will behoove you to keep at it for the rest of your life.
Lately, I’ve been working with people who have lost cartilage in the knees. Seniors are still just as capable as many younger dancers. In fact, the benefit of working with any adult is how more quickly adults grasp the material. If an adult is a beginner, they might not be as intuitive as say someone who’s been dancing since they were three, but they understand the metaphors, concepts, and imagery teachers use when instructing dance.
- The first thing is to PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION to the actual technique of a movement. Let the instructor take their time to go through the mechanics of a dance exercise or drill. Don’t be impatient to practice without the full knowledge that the instructor tries to convey.
- Shift your weight if you are feeling pressure on your knees. More likely than not, you are probably doing the movement incorrectly. In plies, for all dance forms, your hips are centered over the heels, your shoulders are centered over the hips, and the back of your head needs to be centered over the shoulders.
- Good posture in the back goes a long way. You may not realize how much tension in one part of the body effects other parts. For instance, my shoulders are super tight. The culprits are my hips. I hold tension in my shoulders because my hips are very tight and I need to do more stretches.
- Stretch your legs. The quads are easily over built. Stretch the quads as much as possible. We always want to stay balanced. While you are stretching your quads, make sure to stretch your hamstrings, calves, lower back, and shoulders.
- Strengthen the stomach muscles, especially the transverse muscles across the stomach. More often than not, people with bad knees also have bad backs. It’s all related. Strong stomach muscles support the entire back.
Here are some great leg stretches that will help release tension around the knees. Sometimes, knee pain is related to age and loss of cartilage. If you think that might be the case, it’s a good idea to talk with your physician.