Injury Prevention Part I: Preparation

Introduction

When performing complex movement patterns is a huge aspect of either your job or in most dancers case an extremely heartfelt hobby that’s consumes your many thoughts and dreams. An injury can be the fastest way to devastate us as it can keep us from doing something that makes us feel great or in some cases feel anything at all. If you’re like me someone who is obsessive about improvement and being better today then you were yesterday, injury is a sure fire way to slow progress down or stop it all together. After sustaining a hip/lower back injury in February and dealing with it all the way until this past June. I wanted to take the time and share some of the ways I’ve changed not only how I approach my workouts but also dance practice and events to prevent myself from sustaining another injury that hampered me earlier this year.

This will be a multi part series that I’ll most likely want to add to each individual part as new knowledge comes to light that I utilize with myself and my clients. There’s so much information on this subject matter and ways to approach that I wanted to draw focus to a few things to allow the articles to be shorter, less dense and easier to reference. In this article I’m going to cover different concepts that you can utilize in regards to injury prevention. This article will focus on two subjects Warm ups and muscle activation.

Warming Up

The easiest thing we could do to prevent injury is to perform a warm up before we start any kind of physical activity. Warming up is cited in many studies to improve performance and decrease risk of injury, this is due to a number of different factors. There are two methods of thought when it comes warming up, we have passive warm ups which is  “the benefit of increasing core temperature and tissue circulation.1 This increase in temperature can allow the muscles and other soft tissues to be less stiff and more mobile for the workout. “. Passive warm ups are most common as this entails non specific activites like jogging, bike, walking lunges, etc.  This should be done for about 5-10 minutes.

Now on the other side of the warm up coin we have active warm ups, this also referred to as dynamic warm ups or movement prep. Active warm ups also improve performance during workouts by increasing temperature in the muscles and “better neural conduction.1 This means by doing the activity at a lower intensity before actually starting, the nervous system is primed for the activity.  To do this, start the activity at a low intensity, maybe around 25% of the working effort, then move up to 50%, and 75%, then move to the exercise.” When I perform heavy back squats I tend to perform multiple sets at lower weights typically one at 155 pounds then 205 pounds then 255 pounds to prime my body to be put under the stress it’s about to endure.

In a dance context when I practice on quality movement I perform drills at a slower tempo and progressively repeat the drill and increase the tempo fairly drastically to prime my body to the new speed and be at optimal performance for the tempo I want to really work to improve moving at. So when I perform the interval training drill that I learned from this demo video with Mike Roberts and Joanna Lucero. If my desire was to work on fast tempos (190 BPM+) I’d perform this drill at 130-140 BPM, rest, perform it at 150 bpm- 170 bpm and then move into my range of fast tempos depending on how my body feels and I manage my rest depending if I have a conditioning focus or a precision focus.

Dynamic vs Static Stretching

I feel like you can’t talk about warm ups without talking about stretching, a common misconception when it comes to physical activity is that the more you stretch the less likely you are to get injured well according to science they’d agreed with Charlie Murphy’s sentiment . “There is evidence that stretching prior to working out will not reduce the risk of injury. Stretching prior to exercise may actually decrease power output, decreasing overall results. However, if you find that you are severely limited in a certain range of motion, it is fine to stretch in order to increase your range of motion for the workout.  For example, if the hamstrings are very tight, maybe allowing only 45 degrees of hip flexion rather than 90 degrees, stretching may increase the range of motion to 75 or 85″ degrees, allowing for more range of motion during the workout.  This would be a benefit despite the set backs from stretching.  If you need to stretch before working out, 30-60 seconds should be fine per stretch.” 

Now this isn’t to say that static stretching or stretching in general is bad that using those as part of a warm up isn’t the most effective use of your time when trying to prevent injury and performing that after your workout would be the most ideal and something we’ll cover more when I dive deep into cool downs in a later article. Like I stated before Dynamic stretching or dynamic warm ups are a combination of active and passive warm ups. Though a dynamic workout can be done by itself which how I prefer could be done after short stint (5-10 minutes) of low intensity cardio that will help increase blood flow and muscle temperature. The dynamic stretches or stretches that occur through repetitive movement will help improve neural firing and allow the body to operate more efficiently. My pre dance warm ups before practice and contests are full of a number of repetitive movements designed to help wake up my motor neurons and prime my joints for the movements they’ll perform.

Muscle Activation

Muscle activation is an exercise technique that wakes up the muscles opposite the tight, short muscles. Stretching alone will not even out the body. The weak muscle needs to be strengthened to keep the opposite muscle from getting tight again. Muscle activation focuses on those weak muscles and strengthens them to keep your joints moving properly. Due to my lifestyle where I perform a number of movements over and over *gestures to all the squats he does* and how a lot of my clients have sedentary particular muscles in the body tend to shorten and become over active and any muscle opposite of an overactive muscle will then be elongated and become under active. In short an overactive muscle is working too much and the under active muscle is working too little which causes poor joint movement.

According to statistics, provided by juststand.org, the average American spends 55 percent of their waking day sitting. That’s 7.7 hours spent sitting! Going beyond those statistics, think about the neglected muscles of the lower body.

  • Gluteus maximus: This is a very important muscle group that aids in climbing steps, running, deadlifting and squatting. Without a strong booty, postural distortions are sure to ensue (e.g. lordosis, the dramatic curve of the low back), which will result in injury.
  • Hamstrings: Yet another important movement muscle group, the hamstrings are used in walking, stair climbing, running and performing lower body exercises.
  • Core: This is a critical muscle group. Most individuals suffering from back pain have weak core muscles. Crunches aren’t going to cut it.

This above list is a list of common muscles that tend to stop activating properly due to lots of sitting. It’s imperative for a healthy functioning body that people get these muscle groups to fire properly. I activate these muscles before my workouts by perform floor bridge, single leg bridge and supine pelvic tilt. I also perform scapular push ups to help the functionality of my shoulders and upper back muscles.

Conclusion

To recap, a great way to prevent injury in your fitness or dance journey or as you look to live a healthy and active lifestyle. Warming up properly is a simple way to help decrease your chances of injury and will help you to perform at a high level more consistently as the body is primed and ready to put forth high level performance. As always if you’re interested in talking with me more in depth about fitness shoot me an email at Lindyfitness2014@gmail.com, follow me on Facebook at Lindy fitness and if you want to support me financially take a look at my Patreon page. I know not everyone can afford to partake in a fitness program but if you’d like in-depth fitness content please consider contributing to my patreon as these blogs take a lot of time and research to put together and would totally appreciate your support.

 

 

References

  1. Bishop, D. (2003). Warm up I. Sports medicine33(6), 439-454.
  2. Haff, G. G., & Triplett, N. T. (Eds.). (2015). Essentials of strength training and conditioning 4th edition. Human kinetics.
  3. Fradkin, A. J., Zazryn, T. R., & Smoliga, J. M. (2010). Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research24(1), 140-148.
  4. Shrier, I. (1999). Stretching Before Exercise Does Not Reduce the Risk of Local Muscle Injury: A Critical Review of the Clinical. Clin J. Sport Med9, 221-227.
  5. Power, K., Behm, D., Cahill, F. A. R. R. E. L. L., Carroll, M., & Young, W. (2004). An acute bout of static stretching: effects on force and jumping performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise36(8), 1389-1396.

 

 

Dancers Who Lift: Laney Barhaugh

Introduction

I’ve been very fortunate this year to start cultivating some pretty cool friendships with people who spend a lot of time dancing outside of the Lindy Hop community. It’s refreshing to get a new perspective on dancing and learn the values of different dance scenes. With that said this has allowed me to be introduced to people I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise like Elizabeth Lynn Rakphongphairoj Kilrain who I interviewed previously in this series. If you haven’t read her interview, I highly recommend it, as she’s an extremely versatile dancer. Thanks to this friendship, I’ve been introduced to another dancer who contributed a great deal to the blues scene, and allowing me to cast a broad net in regards to representation in this blog. I’m excited for y’all to read up on Laney Barhaugh.

Name: Laney Barhaugh

Where do you live: Minneapolis, MN

Years dancing: I’mma date myself but 14

Laney doin the dayum thang at Signifying Blues

How did you start dancing?

Well, if we want to go wayyyy back, my first exposure to social dancing was in the “gym” (repurposed church) at the teeny tiny school I went to from K-3rd grade. We learned polka, schottische, foxtrot, and waltz, and I totes killed at the polka as a tiny human.

What are all the dance related activities that you do in your scene (locally, nationally, internationally).

You want *all* the dance-related things I do? I could write you an essay, but I won’t. Major things:

  • Part-owner of the weekly Lindy Hop dance (locally) Rhythm Junction
  • Owner of blues organization (locally) Collectively Blue
  • Teacher/DJ (locally, nationally, and more recently internationally) for blues events
  • Head organizer of North Star Blues Exchange
  • Aspiring Event Consultant (ask me questions about organizing! I want to help you!)

Years resistance training: 6ish?

Accomplishment I’m proud of: At one point, I could do 5 pull ups. Don’t ask me to do it now.

What are your favorite exercises:

My favorite exercises to do are generally things with a full body flow and some momentum, so like a KB deadlift/clean/squat combo, or slam balls, or full contact twist.

 Laney Trap Bar Deadlifting!!

 What got you into it and why? I wanted to be a more athletic dancer. At the time, I was very into So You Think You Can Dance, and I wanted to jump like those dancers. I still want to jump like those dancers, let’s be real. And I knew if I wanted to do even a fraction of the things they were doing, I had to be *a lot* stronger.

What are differences in day to day life and dance? Generally, having a routine around it has really helped me stay healthy and be able to say “I did one good thing for myself today”, on days where I’m feeling down. In dancing, I cannot overstate how much more confidence I have in my movement. I know, in a very visceral, embodied way, what my body can do; what I can recover from. And that trust is everything.

 Funniest workout story? Funniest workout story….not really funny, but more just embarrassing, I accidentally let go of a kettlebell during swings once, and it flew quite a few feet (nobody was hurt). I was super embarrassed, because I was definitely not a noob at the time.

 Piece of advice? Just start. I don’t care if it’s a walk around the block, if it’s two push ups against the wall every day, if it’s 10 seconds of planking. Everything counts, doesn’t matter how small, make the barrier to entry super low. And do something you like! If you don’t like pushups don’t do them! If you’d rather run than pick up a weight do that! If you’d rather swim, more power to you! Pick something you enjoy, build a small habit, and go from there.

 

Other things I’d recommend if you’re looking to build a new habit: get an accountability buddy. My roommate and I do this, and if he misses a workout he owes me a meal. Grab a friend, pick something you really don’t want to have to do for them/give them, and off you go.

 

Conclusion

 Thank you for reading, and thank you to all of the dancers who have been active on my like page on Facebook . If you have any questions, feel free to comment here or message me through the Lindy Fitness page on Facebook. If you’re interested in seeing how fitness coaching can work for you, email me at Lindyfitness2014@gmail.com. If you’d like to just support more written content like this consider contributing to my Patreon page to support monthly Jazz History facts and fitness facts as well as more in depth fitness and dance related content voted on by the readers. This and the rest of this series will be posted their for the public a long with many other articles. Consider contributing and get access to exclusive content.

Dancers Who Lift: Bill Ewanick

Introduction

 

A funny and awkward situation that seems to be more frequent for me at this point now that I’ve been dancing for nearly 10 years and traveling across the US for events, is meeting dancers in person that are in YouTube videos I have memorized from top to bottom. It’s especially awkward when that video was from 2013 and you meet the person like 6 years later and became Facebook friends with them 3 years prior. You can’t be like “Hey man! Remember that aerial you pulled off during the Medium round of the Canadian Showcase at CSC 2013…that was sick!!”

 

I didn’t do that when I first met Bill Ewanick, who dances in Ottawa, Canada, but I sure as hell thought it when we first interacted in person LOL! I don’t really have a better introduction about him, just that funny story that occurred in my head. Bill and I talk strongman lifting and share random and funny exercise-related things. My favorite but least favorite is this troll job here with this video, which I’ll explain the significance of at a later time. Enjoy reading about the dance and lifting adventures of Bill Ewanick.

 

Years dancing: 15 (in September)

 Years resistance training: 7

 So I lift AND dance fast!

 What are all the dance related activities that you do in your scene (locally, nationally, internationally)

In my local scene of Ottawa I coordinate the DJs for the weekly dance at the Ottawa Swing Dance Society. I am also a team member and coach of various projects with Side Street Swing, one of the local dance schools. Every year, I DJ and coordinate DJs for O-Town Showdown (which is awesome and you should all come!). I train regularly with Shannon MacGillivray and we compete all over when we can. It’s been a very fun and fulfilling dance partnership! Lastly, I wrote an article a while back about the more marginalized musicians in the history of swing.

 

Fitness accomplishment you’re most proud of: 

 

I deadlifted a car for the first time in competition!

 

What are your favorite exercises to do?

A lot of them! Movement in general I find enjoyable.

Top one is definitely squats. There’s something very primal about squatting. The feeling of going for a personal best, walking out a weight heavier than you ever have before. It feels like your legs are shaking uncontrollably, and a voice in your head is just screaming “THIS IS TOO HEAVY. YOU CAN’T DO THIS”. And then you take a deep breath and do it anyway. It’s scary because you can actually get hurt, even with a good spot.

 

Deadlifts are also king. There’s nothing like holding onto a heavy ass weight in your hands. We’re all about numbers, so deadlifts are great since it’s usually the largest. I don’t find them scary at all, since you can always drop the bar if it isn’t working out. It’s just fun!! Plus, I can say I deadlifted a car, so that’s pretty cool.

BillLifting

Otherwise the sport of strongman/strongwoman has a lot of fun exercises. Heavy farmer’s walks are great for conditioning and grip. Sandbag carries are a real testament to your grit. And circus dumbbell just looks so cool. 

 

What got you into resistance training and Why?

 Wanted to get into better shape for partner dancing. I like having plans, so going to the gym and doing whatever didn’t appeal to me. I knew of powerlifting and strongman from seeing it on YouTube and they seemed like fun. I looked up powerlifting programs (Starting Strength) and started there.

 Funniest workout story?

Can’t think of anything specific. We’re usually trying dumb exercises and other horrible conditioning stuff just because it sounds fun. I also once tried to do the Shim Sham while holding onto 130lbs in each hand for a Lindy Bout promo

 What are the differences you’ve noticed in your day to day life and dance life since you’ve been resistance training?

 

I’ve discovered how much fun it is being strong. Aerials aren’t easier, I still need good technique, but the margin for error is much greater. It has been a challenge keeping up cardio endurance with all the extra weight I’ve gained. I’ve had to plan a lot more hill sprints than I might otherwise if I wasn’t a dancer.

 

What piece of advice or encouragement do you have for those who are interested in resistance training but are apprehensive?

 See if you can find a lifting-focused gym, and see if they offer coaching. I train with Hyperforce Athletics and I’m much stronger than I would be otherwise without them pushing me. Getting someone to coach you through the lifts at first is really helpful to get your confidence up. Most people serious about the iron game are really excited to share it, so you should find lots of people will want to help you if you just ask. Once you’ve got the basics without hurting yourself, keep to an established program and work hard for at least six months before trying to modify. Consistent work on a mediocre program is much better than no work with the perfect program.

If you’re having trouble getting started, start with the smallest habit you can create. Every morning get up and put on your workout clothes. Then start going to the gym just for 15 minutes. Then for 30. As long as it takes to get into a habit. Willpower won’t save you, only discipline will.

It’s very important to seek out people stronger/better than you at your goals and train with them. It will really push you to work hard and succeed.

 Conclusion

 I hope you enjoyed getting to know about Bill as a dancer and as a lifter. There are still plenty more dancers that will be introduced in this series, let me know if you’d like to have more series like this but regarding a different subject. Also, if you’d like me to explain the significance to Mambo #5 and why that is a troll move.

Thank you for reading, and thank you to all of the dancers who have been active on my like page on Facebook . If you have any questions, feel free to comment here or message me through the Lindy Fitness page on Facebook. If you’re interested in seeing how fitness coaching can work for you, email me at Lindyfitness2014@gmail.com. Thank you again for reading, and looking forward to next time.

Client Stories: Evan Borst

I’ve been training with Shelby via his online services since August 2018. I was at approximately 24% body fat when I started training with Shelby.  Almost a year later I’m at 17.9% and consistently in the teens.

This was the metric I was most interested in when I started my time with Shelby so it’s the most exciting thing for me. My biggest surprise was how my approach to diet has changed.  I initially came to Shelby for programming help with my resistance training.  Understand I was paying a little attention to my diet when I started, but over time it’s really been something that’s become as important as my lifting.  With Shelby’s guidance I’ve been able to gradually adjust elements of my diet to help me see progress toward my goals without giving up my love of food. I’d refer Shelby – and have – to people for many reasons.  His online consultation is convenient for me as we can touch base as necessary and he’s flexible with our scheduling.

Shelby consistently keeps my programming fresh so I don’t get bored or plateau.  He doesn’t just give me the lifts/sets/reps info but makes sure I understand why we’re doing them at that time, helping me get more invested in the program.  He works with my schedule – I’m not told I need to commit 2 hours a day, five days a week in the gym.  I tell him the time I July 2019have to give and he helps me make the most of it.  When I have minor injuries he quickly and easily helps me adjust my programming so as to let me get the most out of the work without exacerbating any injuries.  His consultation on my diet has had a profound effect on me – I’m not one that had done much with my diet before (other than eat a lot) and Shelby has helped me make powerful adjustments gradually in a way I can understand and easily work with. Shelby has earned my trust as my trainer.  He is consistently honest, straightforward, supportive of my goals and responsive to my concerns.  I came to him motivated to do work, and he gave me the tools to succeed.  Additionally, I feel like I get a great bargain for the depth of knowledge demonstrated and level of support provided.  All of this, and Shelby and I live a few states apart.  I’ve lost weight, lost fat, gained muscle, gained confidence, and feel like I’m in the best shape of my life after a year of training with Shelby.  I look forward to many more.

 

Client Stories: Stes Henri

My name is Stes and I started running in September 2017. I could barely run for a minute at a time but I decided that I wanted to run a half marathon. I had no idea where to start. I originally tried relying on the internet for advice and training plans but there is a lot of incorrect information out there.  I knew I needed to get some help from someone with experience and knowledge or I would probably end up injuring myself. I have friends that have had success working with Shelby so I contacted him about being my e-Coach. I was blown away by how much he was able to do for me from a distance. He wrote me personalized plans for dynamic stretches, my runs, strength training, and recovery. Every week, I could also count on emails from him that included video tutorials and even nutrition articles. 

Stes

I am pleased that after months of hard work, I completed my first half marathon in April 2018.  I went from barely being able to run at all to 13.1 miles at a time in just 7 months. I can’t imagine getting that far without Shelby’s help and I’m so thankful for his e-Coach service. I don’t know what’s next but I’m confident that I will succeed with Shelby on my team.

Client Stories: Anne Jones

My name is Anne Jones and I’ve been training with Shelby for 12 weeks now. During that time I’ve lost 25 pounds, several inches, and 3.2% body fat. He has helped me to become strong and improve my cardio ability and stamina. Besides being a pleasure to work with, he has helped by sending me various fitness and nutrition articles and helped me increase my intake of proteins for a better macronutrient ratio. He has been able to modify my training and help me continue my fitness progress despite an outside knee injury and a mild shoulder/thoracic spine strain. Shelby has been keenly able to challenge me without  causing me too much pain or running me into the ground, which has helped me progress rather than giving up and quitting. I greatly appreciate his genuine concern for me and his ability to modify my exercises in both individual and group settings (like boot camp). I highly recommend him and am grateful to have him as my trainer!


Trainer Note: Anne is a prime example of what consistency can do for you. She remained consistent and persistent to the plan that she had set out for herself and would always consult me to find ways to adjust it to whatever life threw at her with her schedule. While at YouFit Anne won 2 fitness challenges to get herself a free membership for a year. Even without me guiding her this year after leaving YouFit in February to train independently Anne won another challenge sticking to the strategy that we had laid out.

If you’re interested in seeing how fitness coaching can work for you like it did for Anne, email me at Lindyfitness2014@gmail.com or message me via my facebook page. Thank you again for reading, and looking forward to next time.

Client Stories: Donna Simon

I have been a member at Youfit since August, 2015. During that time, I have been working with a trainer to get into shape and lose weight. I am a 56 year old woman, and losing and/or maintaining my weight is challenging. In my fifties, I put on about 25 extra pounds. For the last year, I have been working out with my trainer, Shelby. He is very knowledgeable, personable, and receptive to my concerns. He pushes me to be the best I can be. In the time that I have been working with him, I have grown stronger, more self-assured, and thinner. I have recommended him to my family and friends as an excellent trainer.

Trainer Note: Donna was really big into doing step aerobics and was extremely concerned with resistance training. Over time she started enjoying it and having the most enjoyable celebrations when she completed something she felt that she couldn’t do. I’ll never forget the day when she pressed 60 pounds over her head for 3 complete sets of 8 reps. When she put the bar down after the set she looked over at me with just the most ecstatic look in her eyes and said “I did it!!!” That moment will always stick with me.

If you’re interested in seeing how fitness coaching can work for you like it did for Donna, email me at Lindyfitness2014@gmail.com or message me via my facebook page. Thank you again for reading, and looking forward to next time.