Feature: Six surprising hip hop fitness facts

Monday 15 May 2017

Carole Edrich reports on from the UK’s first ever hip hop focused Healthier Dancer conference.

1.There is special provision for dance related injuries in the NHS

This includes specialists who know and understand that hip hop injuries and environment is different to other dance disciplines, doctors who understand that ‘rest until it gets better’ is not always the best approach and people who can advise you how to recover from injuries in a way that actually helps your dance practice.

2. If you are a Breaker, have an injury and can’t get to the NHS dance clinic you can still get some help.

When Nefeli ‘sMash’ Tsiouti started getting injuries, she discovered that conventional methods of strengthening for dance didn’t work for Breaking. That’s why she started Project Breakalign which include ways of strengthening your body to increase the length of time you can be a Breaker.

It’s a scientific method that’s still growing. As part of the project, hip hop dancers who cannot get to a specialist NHS dance centre can email her with x-rays and diagnosis/description of their injury. Nefeli will then send you the contact details of the closest medical practitioner who understands your dance form.

3. You can often dance with an injury without making it worse…

…but need a specialist medic to tell you how. It’s far too easy to ignore a little injury, and quite hard to differentiate between something unimportant and something that has the potential to stop you dancing for months. While useful, Google and friends can’t help you decide. The right medic can tell you how to strengthen and train with the injury and help you understand what caused it. This is even more important for hip hop dancers and Breakers because the dance’s intensity and pressures on the head, wrists and spine are unlike those of other dance forms.

4. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be dancing hip hop, even Breaking, well into your 40s and 50s.

But to do this you need to know how to stay injury-free. This involves understanding your body, how to treat it to minimise injury and how changes to your life, environment and where you dance might change your susceptibility to injury. The Breakalign Methodology has been developed for and with Breakers and is being refined by Nefeli and her team. The first breakalign methodology course is coming soon. Visit the Breakalign or keep an eye on the One Dance UK site to find out more.

Alternately build a programme that helps strengthen you for your dance, in a way similar to the acrobatics artists Mimbre.

5. Breakers Are Different

The dance medical profession has been doing very specific studies in hip hop and Breaking, with some of the original hip hop legends taking part. While more is ongoing – Project Breakalign is in the process of analysing the largest survey of its kind done exclusively with Breakers – the best dance doctors can help with any injury. The earlier you take a niggle to them, the less likely it is to become an injury that stops you doing your thing.

6. Building injury prevention into your dance training gives unexpected results

Using approaches like Breakalign can give more power and speed, can help you hit your move better, help you give more to your stage performance and to have the energy and strength to leave other battlers behind. Giving you the opportunity to carry on doing your thing for many more years.

About the conference

Run by One Dance UK in partnership with Stratford Circus Arts Centre and East London Dance, Mind the Gap: Train Smart Improve Performance was a full day of discussions, presentations and workshops on how to improve hip hop health and reduce injuries. Keep an eye on onedanceuk.org for videos and a full report from the event.

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