by Amanda Jane Snyder
Exercises for Optimal Health and Performance
Any tap dancers out there?
Living in New York City there are so many performance artists, but tap dancers are sometimes overlooked. SO although this blog will mostly be dedicated to those tap dancers out there, I encourage my non tappers to read on as well.
Does your sport require strong hips as well as mobile hips?
What about proper ankle mobility such as good dorsi/plantar flexion?
This type of mobility is required specifically for tap dancers, it’s also required for runners or any sport with running really. So read on!
I do believe that Actors, Singers, and Dancers are Athletes! Our body is our instrument and we should be training for the athletes that we are! That includes Tap Dancers.
As athletes, it's important that we breakdown the biomechanics of the common movements used while tapping.
You'll never guess what is needed to strengthen these types of movements!
Proper hip flexion and mobility is key for all of the stomps, stamps, and rolling shuffles.
And what about all that plantar ankle flexion in the flaps, and how about the dorsi flexion for paddles and pullbacks?
It would be in a tap dancers best interest to strengthen the hips while keeping them loose and mobile. Improving ankle mobility as well as strengthening the anterior tibialis would definitely be beneficial for a tap dancer!
A lot of tap dancers complain about over use of their shins, or experience shin splints, but focusing on exercises that are "sport specific", tap dancers can prevent injury but also strengthen their craft.
Try these exercises in your weekly routine to perfect your form and prevent injury in your respective sport:
1. Reverse Plank Drive
Use a band to add some resistance and create strength with these hips! Try 3 sets of 10-20 total reps. Squeeze your glutes, keep those hips high and drive that knee to your chest.
2. Standing Banded Knee Drive
Try this standing variation to better replicate the actual movements we see in tap dancing. Try doing all one side to build stability and balance in the standing leg while building strength and mobility in the moving leg.
3. Dorsi Flexed Hinge
The higher the toes, the more you'll feel a stretch in the achilles and calves, as well as some tension in the front of your leg. You should feel that infamous "shin splint" anterior tibialis working and engaging in this isometric hold. Hold here for a minute or two and see how long you can maintain this position.
4. The Patrick Step
Named after the infamous Knees Over Toes guy, The Patrick Step is great for creating balance, stability, as well as dynamic ankle mobility. Start this exercise off by using no weights, and eventually increase to using dumbbells at your side or a barbell on your back. This movement is similar to a plie and is also directly related to the movements we see in tap dance routines. Try 1 set of 25 each side or 3 sets of 10 each.
5. Ankle PAILS/RAILS
This is a complicated exercise to try and explain over a blog, and yet here I am trying to explain it, simply because of how important Functional Range Conditioning's PAILS/RAILS are. Progressive Angular Isometric Loading and Regressive Angular Isometric Loading are all about building strength within flexibility. My front foot is receiving load external load from the weight of my body leaning into my knees, as well as an added weight to create more stretch and load. Sit in this position for about 2 minutes and let your body sink into the stretch. After 2 minutes, start to progressively increase the amount of INTERNAL tension by pressing your foot into the ground. Slowly increase this tension until you get to your safest greatest effort, and then reverse that tension and try and lift your foot off the ground without coming out of the stretch. This exercise should take a total of about 3 minutes each side.
These exercises combined will improve your ankle and hip mobility when done consistently! Try them out and let me know how it goes for you!
Amanda Jane Snyder is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Mindset Coach living in Brooklyn, NY. She has been vegan since 2016. She specializes in Strength and Conditioning for Actors, Singers, and Dancers but loves creating, exploring, and enjoying all things vegan and gluten free!