“Knit your ribs together and pull down” Would this feel great?
There are generic cues that you hear over and over. We need to modernize our cueing and imagery that will really enhance function. This cue is a poor solution for hyperextended ribs. I see so many dancers overexergerating this cue that they have made their ribcage rigid to not be able to use their arms and back correctly and expressively. One of the most beautiful lines is the arabesque or attitude. Pulling the ribs down will change this line. We need to come up with cues and training that will enhance the line and improve function.
As teachers, we need to look deeper why there is poor function. Why are the ribs hyperextended?
- Tight structures such as back muscles and iliopsoas.
- Are the ribs in response to poor grounding of the feet and hyperextended legs?
- Is the neuromuscular system going first to the back muscles firing in shortness?
Knitting the ribs together is not a dynamic cue. It does not solve the problem and can create other problems in different level changes. Why don’t we go deeper in our cueing?
- Put your attention to your spine and give support for the entire spine.
- If your ribs are hyperextending, visualize the hyperextended section has support to bring that section back to neutral.
- If you are doing footwork in Pilates, stop in the middle of the movement when the ribs start hyperextending.
- Relax the back muscles and imprint the thoracic spine back to neutral. Continue footwork.
Understanding the function of the spine and legs can make huge differences. When the facets of the spine are evenly spaced for neutral and move equally extension or flexion, there is an invitation away from compression. Hyperextension is usually at one section of the spine.
When the legs are hyperextended, important muscles for stability are kicked out. Improving function of the legs will enhance the placement of the spine.
Remember: When you see a problem, look above or below. The problem is usually an organization around a poor function.