Don Flamenco says,”Amorcita, por favor, use your core muscles to save
your back. And here is $250 to buy yourself a good pair of
In my last post in this series I wrote about preventing dance injuries through nutrition. Now I want to discuss another part of staying strong in flamenco and that is through proper flamenco technique and properly fitted shoes.
Proper flamenco technique comes from how you carry yourself in the movement and where the movement originates.
GETTING TO THE CORE OF THE MATTER
Let’s start from where the movement originates. Like all dance, flamenco movement originates from the core- abs, back, pelvis. With a strong core, you can freely do peripheral movement, which just means you can move your arms and legs.
One of the beautiful body lines of flamenco comes from the hyper extended (arched) back. This is gorgeous but also allows for crunching and injuring the lower back. With a strong core you would protect your back.
DON’T LEAVE THIS BEHIND
Another thing to add is how you position yourself while doing footwork. One would think that you need strong feet to do footwork. That’s partly true, but you really need to have the feet and legs relaxed and have the movement originate in your butt.
The glutes are a large muscle group and are the true power behind great footwork. You don’t need a large gluteus, but you do need to know how to access it while doing footwork. That comes from focusing on your backside to sit into the movement rather than leaning forward to force it out of the thighs and feet. This will keep you from busting your knees while doing footwork as your glutes will absorb all the impact.
IF THE SHOE FITS
Then there are flamenco shoes. You have to think of them as ballet slippers or gloves. You can’t have extra space for comfort as you would in street shoes. The beginner model shoes tend to be inexpensive but also of poorer quality so a dancer can’t quite do proper footwork in them. This leads to knee injuries because the dancer can’t flex the toes properly during certain techniques.
If you know that you’ll be taking flamenco for a long time, it’s best to invest in a good pair of shoes as soon as possible or else you’ll be facing the possibility of doing footwork improperly and risking injury.
So that was a brief overview of preventing injuries through proper technique and good shoes. Here are some take away points.
1. Stabilize your core muscles while dancing by keeping your belly button to your spine and your ribcage primarily down as you dance.
2. Build those core muscles with exercises such as pilates, planks and yoga.
3. Think of your footwork originating from your glutes. Anytime you feel your thighs tighten, focus your attention on the glutes and pulling in your navel to your spine.
4. Get shoes that fit! If you have wide feet, get your shoes a half size or so smaller than your street shoes size and get them wide width. A little tight is good, they will stretch. Breathing room in your shoes is not good! Here is a resource guide where you can buy your flamenco shoes.
Next time I’ll talk about different exercises you can do to keep your body strong for flamenco and prevent injury.