by Elizabeth Strickland Greco
From my view on the couch, Scot fit Highland Bootcamp looked deceptively easy.
But when I finally got up the nerve to try it — the low-impact version, mind you — I was surprised at the workout I got.
Who knew moving your arms back and forth could be so aerobic?
Scot fit Highland Bootcamp, created by champion highland dancer/teacher Sandy Kennedy Gribbin, is an exercise DVD specifically targeted to highland dancers.
Gribbin, who holds a Masters degree in exercise physiology and has almost 25 years of experience in highland dance, notes that highland dancers tend to be very highly trained, but only in highland dance. Thus, they are prone to career-derailing injuries.
As such, Scot fit offers cross-training to help prevent some of the most common injuries, such as shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.
Scot fit offers a cardio portion, two hopping intervals, a strength portion, and a core portion.
What I like about Scot fit is that it offers choices.
For highland dancers, there’s a high-impact workout.
For the rest of us, there’s a low-impact workout. This makes it ideal for parent and child to exercise together.
And you can switch between high- and low-impact workouts with ease.
Jennifer Rogers of Columbus, Ohio, has been doing Scot fit since April with her son, highland dancer Justin Rogers.
“We watched it once, and we were hooked,” she says.
They purchased the DVD and now do the entire workout from start to finish, without breaks, once a week.
“I do the old-lady version,” jokes Rogers, “and Justin does the beast,” her nickname for the high-impact workout.
Rogers says the workout has increased Justin’s stamina for long competition days and has built up muscle.
As for me, I like to do Scot fit by myself. When I tried Scot fit on vacation — my idea was to have the entire clan, ages 11 to 70+, try it together — my sister-in-law joked that my cardio portion reminded her of the famous Elaine dance on Seinfeld.
It’s okay to laugh. I was the only one who finished the workout that day.
by Megan Kimsey, Doctor of Physical Therapy
Any dancer knows that there’s nothing more frustrating than getting set back by an injury. Unfortunately, overuse injuries are extremely common among highland dancers. It’s no wonder that injuries occur when you consider that hopping on your toes creates a force on your body that is up to 6 times your body weight! While it’s easy to get discouraged by an injury, it’s great to know that there are many ways you can prevent overuse injuries.
- Never underestimate the importance of your warm up. Warming up increases blood flow to the muscles, increases body temperature, and stretches the muscles you are about to use. Not only does warming up decrease your chance of injury, but warming up also enables muscles to create more power ( better hopping)! Your warm up should last at least 10 minutes and include stretching and movements to increase your heart rate. Remember that it’s important to warm up in between dances at competitions, too!
- Change it up. Dancing every day will make certain muscle groups very strong, but other muscle groups may remain very weak. Weak muscles play a major role in the development of overuse injuries. Some of the common muscle imbalances found in highland dancers include:
- Quadriceps stronger and tighter than hamstrings
- Outer thighs stronger and tighter than inner thighs
- Calves stronger and tighter than ankle dorsiflexors (muscles on the front of your leg near the shin bone)
In order to have healthy and stable joints, you need all of your muscle groups to be strong. Try cross-training to strengthen muscle groups that are neglected when you dance. Cross training also varies the type of stress on your body to prevent overuse injury. Cross training activities can include biking, running, jump roping, swimming, weight lifting, and more. A good goal for a premier dancer would be to dance 3-4 times per week and cross train 2-3 times per week.
- Increase training gradually. Dancing in a championship demands a huge amount of energy and puts a great deal of stress on your body. Research shows that dancers who suddenly dance longer and harder the week before a competition get injured more often than those who build up gradually. Instead of going from dancing just one step at a time to dancing 4 highlands in a row the week before a competition, develop a training plan that gradually prepares your body for competing in 4 highlands. By increasing your dance training gradually, your body will be ready to perform at its best the day of the championship.
- Give those ghillies a break. Even the most dedicated dancer needs to allow time for their muscles and joints to recover. Repetitive dance training creates microtrauma in the body that can lead to major injuries if the body does not have adequate time to repair itself. Always allow at least one day per week for rest.
If you suspect an injury, get help from your physician or physical therapist right away. It is easier to treat an injury early than when it has been bothering you for a long time. Take care of your body now to be able to enjoy many years of healthy dancing!
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