Efforts to prevent injury for dancers are far and wide. There are many techniques utilized. The major thing done, as with most athletes, is cross training. Dancers don’t necessarily go into the gym to run miles, stack up heavy weights or bust out the agility ladder, although some do – dependent on their style of dance and what that style requires. However, cross training in the dance world usually involves things such as yoga, Pilates, Gyrotonic, and floor-barre.
Floor-barre is exactly what it sounds like. It is more recognized in the ballet world, as ballet is the main style that utilizes a barre in regular practice. Floor-barre was developed in the 1960s by a former dancer, Zena Rommett, as a technique to strengthen and help dancers gain alignment awareness without the stress from gravity when in the upright position.
This type of conditioning goes through most of the basic exercises that are done standing at the barre, such as plié, tendu, passé, développé, and battements, but all while lying on the floor. These leg movements are not the only things that have the focus in a floor-barre, but there is also great attention to detail in spinal, pelvic and hip alignment for basic stance position.
As mentioned in the previous blog about using natural turnout, doing floor-barre is one way to help really achieve the proper maximum natural turnout to help prevent injury that happens when turnout is forced by just using the friction of the floor against your feet. Floor-barre also helps dancers learn the awareness of arm, shoulder and neck placement.
Although this conditioning is very gentle, due to the decreased gravitational force on the joints, it is very rigorous and incredibly helpful in dancers making huge gains in flexibility, core strength, and awareness in body placement.
Does your dance studio offer floor-barre? If you are trying to enhance your technique or are nursing injury and want to maintain strength and flexibility, start taking a floor-barre class. Many studios will offer this conditioning class by a certified instructor. You can also visit a dance rehabilitation specialist that can help with teaching you floor-barre exercises with proper placement, which can be practiced in formal physical therapy and at home.