Posture changes

Yes, a dance post!

Thank you for your patience as I have been trying to navigate the on-going recovery and legacy from the cancer.

Just prior to everything falling apart, I had a coaching lesson with a female coach that focused on latin–specifically rumba.  Within that lesson, one of the things she emphasized was that I tend to be ‘back weighted’ and lead from my centre core with it sticking out.

Last week, I was going through exercises with the rehab specialist and she made a similar observation–that I have a tendency to stand with my upper body pulled back so that my shoulders are almost hyper-extended back, and I am not engaging my centre core muscles.

Simply put, I have a habit of standing with my shoulders over my butt, instead of lined up over my hips.  It’s a subtle difference, but it requires a lot of work and discipline to change.

It’s more than standing with my shoulders forward.  It’s bringing them forward while pulling my centre core (the area between the belly button and chest) back by engaging it.  This moves the weight of my upper body from sitting on top of the back of my heels to more centred over the foot.

If you want to try the difference–stand and think of pulling your shoulders back and down and allowing your centre core to move forward.  Then, engage your core and pull it back and see the difference it makes in your shoulder position.

For the ladies, by moving the shoulders over the hips, it moves the chest (and those parts protruding from it) in front of the body.

I may have developed this way of standing after my surgery.  So much changed in the composition of my body, I likely developed ways to compensate.  It’s been an interesting revelation.  That said, I really don’t know for sure if this is new or not.

One of my first lessons back was focused on working to make this change and incorporate it into my latin dancing.  We took one step from my rumba routine and worked on doing it with this change in posture.  My entire balance is different.  I also have to remember how to breathe while my core is engaged, and I have to work to not over engage my glutes to allow for hip movement.

It’s going to take time, but it’s not the first time I have worked to change my posture.  It takes a lot of discipline, but it also takes consistency outside of dance.  So, whenever I move or stand, where ever I am, I constantly check myself–is my core engaged? Is my chest forward?  Are my glutes back and relaxed?

Essentially, I am working to develop a new habit and with it new muscle memory.  Habit take almost 3 weeks to develop, and I know this is going to take a lot of persistence to get there.  I hope to be at a point where it is well ingrained before my next surgery, as I think dance advantages aside, it will help with strengthening my core and recovery.

The interesting thing is that it is a position which makes me much more aware not only of my core muscles, but also of the muscles in my back and shoulders.  They are stretching forward when I make this adjustment and that is a new sensation for me.

Applying it universally through dance is going to be the biggest challenge.  On top of how I stand normally, one of the challenges of this is to not be constantly on my toes (essentially meaning that my upper body is too far forward and likely my hips as well).  When you add heels to the mix…well, I guess we will see.  Already I have remembered that one of the biggest difference between 2 inch and 2.5 inch heels is how my posture shifts with the height difference.  To help work the two pieces together, I am going to start wearing my 2.5 inch practice shoes during the latin technique group class I attend.

Another change I am trying to make that I am less optimistic about is working to turn my right knee and foot in straight in standard, as opposed to their natural inclination to turn out.  This shows a lot in tango–especially when I bring my feet together.  More often than not, my heels are together, but my toes are not, with my right toes turned out.

I will talk more on that next time.  For now, it’s all posture, all the time.

Good to be back.


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