Anatomy For Dancers


When I am in doubt about anything, I buy books.

Kidding, I always buy books, doubt or no doubt. After hearing «Oh, don’t do [exercise] this way, you will wreck your [body part]» for a couple of times from various dance teachers, I decided to buy some books on anatomy.

From left to right these are Sports Anatomy by the German doctor (Prof. Dr. Dr. Dr. apparently) Jürgen Weineck, Anatomy of Movement by the French dancer and physiotherapist Blandine Calais-Germain and Dance Anatomy by the American ballet dancer and trainer Jacqui Greene Haas. Altogether they range from nonspecific to very dance-specific and from medical to practical.

I have decided to start at the base (nonspecific medical) and am now halfway through Sports Anatomy, which explains bones, joints and muscles and deals with the most common sports injuries. So far I have learned:

  1. If you do not do any sports, your life will suck when you are old.
  2. If you do too much sports, or do sports badly, your life will suck way before you get old.
  3. Thou shalt cross-train (no, not CrossFit)
  4. Saying «Don’t worry, I’m not crazy, I’m just testing how the upper part of the trapezius pulls the shoulders upward when contracted bilaterally, but turns the head to the opposite side when contracted unilaterally!» doesn’t make you seem less weird to your co-commuters. Derp.

And one more thing: Have you ever declared «After training I had aches in muscles I didn’t even know I had, haha!»? I have. Funny thing is, there are A LOT of muscles you don’t know you have. And most of them have really cool Latin names. My favourite is the sternocleidomastoid muscle, which is the one on the front/side of the neck that hurts when you suck at sit-ups like I do. Say it with me: Sterno-Cleido-Mastoid. Awesome, right?

Next time you don’t want to go out with your friends, you can just say «Oh, my sternocleidomastoid hurts terribly after yesterday’s dance class, I’m afraid I really can’t make it today» and they will never ever suspect that all you really have is trouble nodding and a bad conscience about those sit-ups.

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