Benefits of Dancing on the Hips
Shakira said it first: "These hips don't lie." Why don't her hips lie? We'd like to think it's because she takes care of them by dancing regularly.
Hip flexors are muscles that are often overlooked in stretching and exercising. The muscle fibers can shorten over time and can lead to tighter, weaker hips that set you up for stiffness, back problems and lowered athletic performance.
But, there's a solution! And, it's a fun one. One way to maintain healthy hips is to regularly practice dance. Most styles of dance require vigorous, repeated movements of the hips. Whether you're taking salsa dance lessons, learning to country dance or participating in a ballroom dance class, it's simple -- dancing has many benefits on your hips.
Dancing Benefits Your Whole Body
The health benefits of regularly dancing are numerous and range from increased muscle tone, improved cardiovascular endurance and reduction in body weight. The movements that dance incorporates as opposed to other sports allows your gluteals and hip flexors to stretch and strengthen. Strengthening your hip flexors lead to increased athletic performance, which in turn leads to not only a healthier body but a more pleasurable dancing experience as you continue classes.
In addition, as you continue to dance and stretch the hip flexors, you are increasing flexibility throughout your whole body. An increase in flexibility in any area of your body promotes blood and oxygen flow throughout the tissues in your muscles which aid in flushing toxins out as long as you are stretching and staying hydrated. So, you can essentially view dancing not only as a way to maintain healthy hips but also as a natural, energy-boosting cleanse that removes unhealthy toxins from your body on a weekly basis.
The Science Behind Stretching Hip Flexors
As many people today work in offices, a large portion of the population now spends most of their day sitting. Too much sitting leads to the shortening of the muscle fibers in your hips and pulls your spine out of alignment. You'll know your hip flexors are weak if you begin to feel cramping in your hips, and this can lead to strains or tears during exercise or even everyday life.
How do you prevent this? Simple. Stretch the hip flexors! What's a great way to do that? That's simple, too. Dance! Any exercise like dancing that opens up your range of motion, causes you to vigorously move your hips and perform movements that bend your body forward and backward at the hips help strengthen these muscles and keep you moving gracefully.
Mark Verstegen, president and founder of Core Performance, notes that it's especially key for women to work their hip muscles because they tend to have wider pelvises and slightly greater angles between the hips and knees than men--both of which put women at a higher risk for injury than guys.
What Kind of Dance Is Best for Your Hips?
While all types of dance include motions that enhance hip movement and flexibility, we recommend trying out ballroom and Latin dance lessons to work these muscles specifically.
Latin dance moves include steps that require you to engage your gluteals, hamstrings, calves and core stomach muscles. Regularly engaging these muscles improves flexibility, which in turn leads to healthier hip flexor muscles. Latin dance moves also help strengthen stabilizer muscles, which can help lead to increased balance that helps your core tighten and your muscle fibers lengthen from sitting at work all day.
So, what are you waiting for? For flexible hips that don't lie and an overall increased body strength and confidence, sign up for dance classes today!