Updated: May 4
As Irish dancers, we focus so much on flexibility to get our clicks and swings high. While flexibility exercises will lengthen the soft tissue muscle group your focusing on, it does not address the bigger picture - mobilizing the working joint with control and strength. Adding mobility work to your daily Irish dance routine will transform your dancing allowing more control, strength, and flexibility through a joint's entire range of motion.
I am a big fan of the work of Christopher Sommers, former US National Gymnastics coach and founder of gymnasticsbodies.com. He is the one who first turned me onto to the necessity of mobility work. Once I began implementing mobility exercises in my own training, and seeing the results, it was obvious that mobility training was a critical missing link for Irish dancers. Coach Sommers describes the difference as "flexibility can be passive, whereas mobility requires that you can demonstrate strength throughout the entire range of motion, including the end ranges."
3 Step Approach to Mobility Training
Taking a three step approach to mobility training will help Irish dancers gain more control, stability, and balance to improve their dancing.
Soft Tissue Work - Address the limitations in the soft tissues, such as knots, with a technique like SMR (self myofascial release) or foam rolling. Check out Target Training’s blog with suggestions on foam rolling. (Foam Rolling for Irish Dance part 1/2, Foam Rolling for Irish Dance part 2/2)
Stretching - Flexibility is an important component of mobility (not as important if you are already “super-bendy”), where the goal is to increase the length of the muscles. Check out Target Training’s blog on stretching. (Stretching for Irish Dancers: Dynamic vs. Static Stretching)
Joint Mobility Work - Exercises that move your joints through their full range of motion (ROM). Stay tuned to the Target Training Blog for an upcoming post on joint mobility work for Irish dancers.
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