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danni_monster wrote in bd_newbie
I've been dancing on and off for 7 months (probably a total of 5 months of actual practice), but I still can't find my lower abs. At all. It's driving me crazy. Every move I want to do, including basic posture, hinges on those lower abs and I can't contract them to save my life. I've tried all the regular exercises (including the ones on Shira's website), but no luck. It's gotten to the point where I went ahead and got a private teacher. She's been giving me alternatives to try and even suggested I do pilates. Sometimes I feel like she gets frustrated with me because I just can't contract them. Or maybe my frustration just fills the room.

Is doing pilates a good supplement to dance practice?

I'm scared that I will never reach a performance level. While I love the dance and the art behind it, I feel terrible not being able to do the moves correctly and often debate just giving it up.

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well, is it that you cannot contract your abdominal muscles.. at all. or that you cant contract them "correctly".

pilates will help you become more ware of your "core muscles" including abdominal, and is GOOD exercise for dancers (my BD teacher swears by it)

other exercises that can help you get the feel for the abs are sit ups, leg lifts, crunches and etc. frankly the one where you lie on yoru back, and lift both legs (straight knee) up off the floor, taught me a LOT about where my muscles are not.

one with a machine (gym required) is to brace your arms hanging against a back board, and then lift your legs straight out....
or the one where you bend frontwards over a padd, cross your arms, and then straighten up using only yor stomach muscles and back.

if you have serious issues with these exercises, and cannot DO them you may need to talk to a doctor or phys therapist since you may have a actual muscle issue

I can contract the upper and middle, but when I go for the lower nothing happens. I can't even sense where it is. I can engage them while doing crunches (I can feel it crunch), but I can't isolate it or even find them on their own. Is it a strength issue, or is it possible that I'll never find them?

If you can engage them for crunches, then it is likely a strength and time issue. For some of the more difficult to isolate muscles, it can take quite some time for your body to become proficient at activating them independently. While some dancers may find these muscles immediately, it could take much longer depending on that specific muscle's strength and the previous kinds of ways that you have used them.

If you are able to feel them while you are in the crunch, start trying to relax all of your other muscles individually while you are still holding the lower abs. This will help you break the muscle habit of all pieces moving together and will help you to recognize the feel of isolating those muscles. Once you have strengthened the muscles and learned how to hold and release them separately from the others, then you will be able to perfect activating the lower abs instead of starting in a crunch and then releasing to get there.

Good luck! I am working with my students on abs a bit right now and the class is evenly split between those that can't yet isolate the upper abs and those that can't yet isolate the lower abs. The best remedy I know is time and practice. The exercises listed by fabricdragon above are all great ways to strengthen the muscles and help you get started. :)

you may need to just work around them for the time being.

find exercises (pilates and others) that WORK those muscles....... and try to pay attention, you may be able to train your body to feel it.
i know that doing some of the chest exercises helped me to figure out what i was supposed to be moving in my chest work

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