Updated: Feb 16
Sitting at school or work all day and playing on our phones or working on the computer has caused a bit of a problem for Irish dancers - shoulders rounding forward and head hanging down.
Many dancers will try to compensate by squeezing their shoulder blades together so tightly that their ribs are sticking out, back is arched, and shoulders are pulled way back. They’ll begin their dances like this but as soon as they get to dancing, it’s nearly impossible to maintain this overextended posture and it’s an ineffective way to produce the most power and control while dancing.
Aesthetically, Irish dancers should strive to maintain a confident looking posture with your spine in neutral alignment (all there curves in the spine present and in good alignment - cervical/neck, thoracic/midback, lumbar/low back). And functionally, the neutral alignment is most beneficial to Irish dancers (and everyone!) as it optimizes balance and breathing, allows activation of the correct muscles during movement, and helps cushion and protect the spine.
How do we get that confident looking posture that is both aesthetically and functionally beneficial for Irish dancers? Yes, you need to strengthen your entire trunk. But to target the common problem for Irish dancers of keeping your shoulders back, you need to strengthen the weak upper back muscles and mobilize the tight shoulder joint.
Add the below mobility, flexibility and strengthening exercises to your daily routine to perfect your Irish dance posture today!
Shoulder Extension Stretch
- Hold a towel or bar behind you - holding it with your palms down, knuckles up.
- Keeping your back and head in alignment (no arched back or head tilting forward), lift your arms up behind you.
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Work up to a 90 degree angle in your shoulder.
Shoulder Flexion Stretch
- place your forearms on a wall
- keeping your back straight, bend forward pressing your chest towards the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds
- stand with your perfect Irish dance posture (shoulders rolled back and down, core engaged, long spine)
- hold a theraband in both hands, palms up
- keeping your elbows by your side, pull the theraband out, rolling your shoulders out and pulling your shoulder blades together.
- Keep your "ribs in" and core engaged the entire time - no arching in the back.
- Repeat 20x
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