Strengthening AbsStrong abs are useful in the dance and life in general. In belly dance they are obviously needed for floorwork but they are also needed for anything that gets you working on one leg - such as walking with hip work.
Here are some exercises that can help1.
Crunches:2(These are far more effective than sit-ups)
- Find your Hip Flexors:
- Lying on your back with legs extended, feel in the middle of the crease where your leg meets your torso.
- Raise a leg.
- If your fingers are over your hip flexors you will feel it bulge under your finger tips. If not, reposition your fingers.
- Do the same for the other leg.
- With your fingers over your hip flexors, bend both knees.
- Lift your head and upper body off the floor - stop when your hip flexors engage and back off a little.
(Do not strain your head and neck forward)
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
The easiest position is feet together and arms wide.
- Engage your abs. (Ideally you want to tighten your transversalis abdominis - at a pinch think of pulling in and out - do not push out)
- Lift you pelvis off the ground.
- Your aim is to lift with your abs - not your legs
- lift until you make a straight line from shoulders to knees
- lift without wobbling your pelvis from side to side
- Lift one leg until it is just off the ground (do not lift it until it is vertical).
As you lift
- Do not let you pelvis drop
- Do not let you pelvis rock or twist - it should stay steady.
- Breath easy - but hold the abs.
- Change legs
- Lower slowly to the ground
- Relax - take a deep breath; release the abs.
Michael Dalgleish suggested this progression can also be used as a way to measure your ability. Hold each position for 10 seconds - ie legs on ground, then 1, 2, 3, 4 with minimal pause between. The pelvis dropping or twisting on the leg lift counts as a fail.
If you get spasm in your legs then you are doing it wrong - ie you are using your legs not your abs.
Notes:1: These exercises assume you can lie comfortably on the floor without straining your neck. Mild thoracic kyphosis may be relieved with a pillow under the head. Do not do these if there is pain in the neck.
References:Dalgleish, Michael, lectures and workshops 1997-2011
Seiger et al (1998) Fitness and wellness strategies, 2nd edition, Boston, Mass. : WCB/McGraw-Hill
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