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BKsmom

Poked out stomach?

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BKsmom

My DD is 7 (8 in November) and still has the super strong curve in her back with her stomach pushed forward. She is very lean and walks straight but I’m afraid she’s starting a habit she will need to break. I’ve talked with her about it before but it doesn’t appear as though her teacher is attempting to or has corrected her. She is unfortunately currently at a very small studio in the city we just moved to but I was told this is the best if the focus is on ballet which is her passion. Any ideas on how to help encourage her to remember to pull that belly button in and how to talk with her teacher about it?  

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DanceDaddy

Will she listen to you? Sometimes my daughter does and sometimes she doesn't. And that's from family members that have been Pros.

Have you thought about saying something to the teacher? And does your teacher actually give corrections????

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Victoria Leigh

Children of that age often do not generally have much control over their abdominal muscles. They need to be taught how to use them to make their backs straight. It also involves weight placement over the feet. When they are swaying their backs their weight is often settled in their heels. Not good. It takes time, teacher effort, and child working on it seriously. If you can talk to the teacher, rather than try to correct her yourself, it would be best. Ask the teacher if she has given them any exercises to do on their own to help strengthen the abs,and if so, then you can just encourage her to do them. And when you see her standing straighter and trying to control the muscles, then tell her how good that looks! :)  

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BKsmom

DanceDaddy, 

We tried again last night and it was much better. I did some googling 😉 to find specific wording and then she said “hey that’s what my teacher says!” So then obviously her teacher has mentioned it, whether to the whole class or just her I don’t know. We watched some videos and she stood at her bar to practice and that seemed to help. Her rehearsal for recital was today and I did notice a major difference in the performance. 

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BKsmom

Victoria Leigh,

Recital is this weekend and summer session starts in a few weeks so I’m going to mention it to the teacher in the summer and see if that helps. Her teacher now is actually very good with her and has helped her so much in other areas. This one is just super noticeable to me. I will definitely ask about the exercises too. I will stretch and do everything with her which makes it much more fun to do at home so I guess we can add some abs into that 😂😫

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JKK

My DD, now 10, had the exact same issue compounded by a generally hypermobile back.  Until she was almost 8, I think she did not have sufficiently developed proprioception to understand alignment and utilization of her core strength.  Also, even if she was corrected in class, we realized that her sway back was so deeply structural that it needed to be addressed all the time, not just in class for a few hours a week.  At the same time, she was already heading down the path of a serious commitment to ballet.

Thus, when DD was about 8.5 and begining to show signs of grasping the concept of structural alignment, we made a concerted effort to address her posture issues at home.  Through a combination of a few private Pilates consultations, discussions with teachers and a lot of research, we developed a home based core strengthening program that included advanced crawling exercises, swiss ball work, Pilates mat work and floor barre.  After about a year of doing this work a couple times a week for about 30-45 minutes a session AND fairly constant at home corrections (a ballet variation of the good ol’ “stand up straight” — e.g. “close your ribs, neutral pelvis, long back” and “bananas belong on your feet, not your back”), DD’s posture is now quite good.  BUT....

It still easily slips back into “banana back,” especially when she is tired or not actively thinking about it.  At 10 and all-in on long term ballet training, DD now independently understands how fundamental proper alignment/posture is and knows that it can’t be something that comes and goes.  For a future that includes the serious study of pre-professional ballet, proper alignment/posture must be 24 hours a day, not just for an hour and a half in class.  

After reviewing what I just wrote this sounds so hardcore at such a young age, but I am quite convinced that if a young dancer has a really bad, deeply ingrained, sway back AND a desire to keep open the prospect of serious, pre-professional ballet study, ballet teachers alone can not address the problem; it needs full time attention at home.  If your DD’s back isn’t as bad as my DD’s was, then this is probably way over board, but I feel that we barely caught this issue in time and hope our experience might help others.

Edited by JKK

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Eligus

I'm a parent of an older DD, so I'm not sure I should be commenting in this forum, but I will chime in on JKK's thoughts...  My niece has had this problem (sway back) her whole life.  Although my niece is not in ballet, the sway back feature -- which was never recognized or fully addressed in her childhood -- has impacted her knees and hips and her athletic endeavors in soccer as she has grown.  She has suffered from knee and back problems at a very young age.  She (like JKK's child), has hyper mobile joints and now (in college) struggles to strengthen the correct muscles and align her body.  So, my point is, this issue of alignment and muscle structure is important for more than "just" ballet.  Ballet just emphasizes and highlights various habits and weaknesses in the body, and in doing so, teaches the importance of correct alignment. 

I'm glad that you are addressing the issue now.  I think parents sometimes believe their child will "outgrow" some of their movement/alignment habits "on their own."  But what I have experienced instead is that if they are not taught (and reminded) how to properly use their body, the child then makes small, unconscious adjustments on their own to balance themselves and that practice will  eventually lead to more problems down the road. 

No one is saying here that a rigorous and unforgiving program is necessary.  To the contrary, correct alignment is a long term process that requires a great deal of self-awareness and self-discipline to correct ingrained habits, but parents can still "plant the seed" of how important alignment and muscle structure will be for an entire life of health.  So, good for you for seeing it and encouraging knowledge and self-growth.  Just be prepared that it's a long term process.  My DD (at 17) still works on this.  I would say that true proper alignment and the importance of it did not "hit home" in her head until she was about 13-14 yo. 

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BKsmom

JKK,

I don’t think that’s harsh at all. I truly believe that if you have the financial ability and time to give your child the best training you can in whatever they want to do, then good for you! It’s only going to help ability and confidence. I guess I’m not sure how bad it is to be honest. To me it’s super noticeable but it has been something that’s been noticeable for most of her childhood. 

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BKsmom

Eligus,

Thanks so much for your input! I agree that posture is a huge thing to think about at this age for so many reasons outside of ballet as well.  

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JKK

BKsmom, did your DD by chance skip crawling?  I believe skipping crawling is the potential source of my DD’a sway back, as neither my husband nor I have or had this issue. Like your DD, my DD’s sway back was also noticeable from toddlerhood until recently, and we still correct her all day long. Fortunately DD homeschools, allowing for constant monitoring by us. She also continues with her twice weekly core work.  I completely agree with Eligus re: the general life impact, in addition to the acute ballet impact, of a sway back and the need for long term remediation.  This has not been an easy task, but prayer, patience and a child so enamored of ballet that she welcomes the nagging have kept us moving forward :wub: 

If you would like links to resources, please let me know, I think I have my research saved somewhere on my computer.  A consult with a dance based Pilates program also really helped. For what this is worth, at DD’s audition-only/annual invite school I noticed a number of sway backs (maybe 15-20%) in the lowest levels and then at the point where the class size drastically narrows, none at all. Even DD has noticed this and we are both quite certain she would not keep her place in the program witbout all of the work we did at home.

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JKK

I just re-read this whole thread and wanted to add that from about 5 to 7, DD was told to “pull her belly button to her back.” Unfortunately, this resulted in a sucked upward stomach that popped her ribs open and actually made the back sway worse! Much to my chagrin, a photo of DD demonstrating this effect appears to be living forever on her then studio’s website.  What DD really needed was an understanding of the neutral alignment of the pelvis, spine and ribs, as well as major core strengthening.  As I learned in my research, backs can sway in different ways and can be caused from different malalignments.  I think the pulling in the belly button approach works in many cases, but it backfired for my DD :wacko:

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Eligus

JKK made some excellent points.  I will also reiterate that the class that helped my niece the MOST was a pilates private instructed by a former professional ballet dancer with a fantastic eye for detail and muscle use.  This instructor then gave my niece an "at home" exercise regimen to address her specific weaknesses.  This meant my niece did not have to pay for ongoing pilates instruction, but could do "mat work" that eventually helped her strengthen her core and back, and loosened/stretched other muscles that were pulling her pelvis out of a neutral alignment.  (My DD also benefited from this amazing instructor when she lived at home).  But it took some convincing of my niece to try pilates, again.  She had gone to an instructor before, but couldn't "feel"/understand the corrections/instructions.  As with any instructor, it may take some trial and error to find one your DK understands and "clicks with."  At under 14, she might be too young to work on the pilates machines, but properly taught mat work can be very effective as well. 

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BKsmom

JKK,

I would love the resources if you wouldn’t mind sharing them! She didn’t skip crawling so I can’t say that has much to do with it for her anyway. How did you find a ballet oriented Pilates instructor for your DD? 

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BKsmom

Eligus, 

That’s amazing you guys found someone so willing to help long term with the “homework”! I’ll ask you as well, how did your sister? find the instructor for your niece?

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Eligus

BKsmom -- I'm sorry to say I lucked into the pilates instructor for my DD.  She was local to my area and I asked around some of the other ballet parents.  My niece went to the same instructor my DD did when my niece visited me for a few weeks in the summer.  I would start by asking ballet instructors and parents and then researching background of any pilates instructors you find.  To my knowledge, most are pretty open about their dance background in their advertisements/company information.

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