Tag Archives: Health

Proprioception and Vestibular Sense

by

Proprioception is the body’s unconscious ability to sense the position, location and movement of the body and it’s parts. In dance this is often referred to as spatial awareness. In ‘Every Child a Mover’, Jan White describes it as “An awareness of the body, knowing where our limbs and ‘edges’ are and where our body is in space.”
 
The Vestibular Sense refers to the body’s vestibular sensory system that monitors and adjusts it’s sense of balance and orientation to the world. This sense is what keeps the us upright while standing, sitting or walking and it is primarily located in the inner ear.
 
Together proprioception and the vestibular sense allow us to move purpose, grace and without knocking into things (sometimes!), but as with all our senses and most bodily functions, we have to learn how to use them and they can be developed and improved slightly throughout life. Babies and toddlers, have to develop these skills from scratch and they are still developing through primary school. Young people, teenagers through adolescence, often suffer temporary loss or impairment of proprioception and the vestibular sense.
 
In general, for young children developing these areas of body awareness is achieved by doing as many different movements in as many different ways as possible. This blog post will explore some specific ways in which we can support these areas of development and changing needs within our dance classes. This blog post does not refer to when there is a medical need for improvement. For these times professional medical advice should be sought. This blog post is designed to support those who work with children and young people.

Mariinsky’s Swan Lake The corps de ballet must be keenly aware of where their bodies are in space.

Balancing
Balance is associated with the vestibular system as well as the motor and visual systems more so than with proprioception, but they still work in tandem.
 

Travel stop is a good game to improve balance. The participants move around the room in a way that relates to the class theme or using a travelling movement such as a gallop. When the teacher shouts stop and/or holds up a sign to signify stop, the participants hold a still position in a similar way to musical statues. The next stage of this game is to call out a position for participants to get into. For example, in an opposites theme you might ask them to make a low shape and the next time a high shape. This is where the balance comes in, state that they need to be on one leg or show them the balance position you want them to do.

You can use balance to bring everyone back to focus anytime during the school day or at the end of a cool down as a calming item. Just ask the group to stand with their feet slightly apart (in ‘place’) and the  slowly rise up onto the balls of their feet. They could hold their arms out to the side or on the hips to help them. Closing eyes emphasises the affect on their balance development  as well as their focus.
 
Another fun balance game is sitting on a ball. This works with balls of lots of different sizes, but they can’t be spongey because then they squash flat. Ask the children to pick a ball and take it to their space. The aim is to sit on the ball for the duration of the song. If they find it easy the task can be developed for body parts or types of balance. This is great for a creative dance class where balls are used as a prop or for one of our ball skills classes (all sorts of ball props and creative dance coming together! Imagine soft squishy snowballs, shakey cat bells and giant balloon balls all in one very fun class for under 5s!).
 
Bare feet!
Have you ever wondered why babies prefer to be in bare feet? My daughter spends a great deal of time removing shoes and socks and she was one of the reasons I began learning more about the vestibular sense and proprioception because refereed to a lot when researching physical development in babies.
 

Going barefoot helps to map the body and, although many dance styles require shoes to be worn in class, tap, character and street come to mind, we can help children in their development by encouraging them to move barefoot in creative dance or for sections of a dance class.
 
 
Part of a creative dance class could explore different ways the feet come into contact with the floor… stamping, jumping, sliding, tip toes, feet edges (being extra careful!), light taps and stronger taps etc. Barefoot races with different forms of travelling such as running, hopping, galloping or slime slid
es (when the floor is covered in slime and you have to get through it but sometimes it’s slippery and then suddenly it’s sticky and then it’s back to slippery again).
 
Going barefoot can also apply to our Active Armchairs sessions with older adults, many of whom spend most of their lives in slippers or shoes. Perhaps we could organise a barefoot class with sensory boxes for the feet (sand or tiny fluffy pom poms), a giant elastic to signify the edge of the sea for dipping toes in and a ball to try and keep under the foot.
 
For a little bit more about Barefoot Babies you can read Dr Kacie Flegal’s article: 
http://www.naturalchildmagazine.com/1210/barefoot-babies.htm
 

Body pressure

This involves stimulating the receptors in the skin and is great for developing an inner ‘map’ of the body. Movements like rolling, crawling like a baby or a bear, army crawling, crab walking or being a worm or snake are great. All you need is an empty space like a dance studio or school hall!

Props can also help. Games with lycra such as when the group holds the lycra and an individual makes shapes underneath or all sitting around the lycra pushing the feet and hands up to make shapes.
 

 
Move With Others
As well as moving by themselves, children develop their vestibular sense by being moved by others. This includes everything from being thrown in the air by a fun uncle to giving and / or receiving a great big bear hug! This links in with body pressure (above).
 
Some rhymes and games can be done with a friend or as a group and these make a great brain break during the school day or a quick, related or unrelated section in a dance class. Some to try include Row, Row,Row Your Boat, Ring a Roses, In and Out The Dusky Bluebells and many of the songs that involve horses, but performed with a partner or sitting on an adults lap (perfect for our TRS Tots classes!). Try Mother, Father and Uncle John, This is the Way The Lady Rides or Horsey Horsey. 
 
Be Creative
In our school staff training programme, Dance: A Cross-curricular Approach, we teach staff how to give ownership of the movement to their pupils. Although this does make it a lot easier and more enjoyable for school staff who are teaching dance as a subject, it is also very beneficial for the pupils. It has been established that children learn through play and at their own pace. When developing body awareness, children have to go through a process in their own time.  A creative dance class supports this order of development because it both gives young children the opportunity to move in the way their body needs to move on that day and also includes sections of taught movement that provide examples of other things they could do.
 
 
 

Related Images:

Healthy Weight Summit

by

Yesterday A Better Medway held the 2018 Healthy Weight Summit and I went along with TRS Teacher and franchise owner, Georgie, to find out more.

The day opened with a speech by Councillor David Brake who talked about helping our community achieve a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet and be more active. He talked about our collective wisdom and said we would be “Working together to support Medway residents to adopt healthier lifestyles and achieve a healthy weight.”

The together theme continued and the thing that has struck me most about the day is that the people there want to work in partnership, build connections and network. Why wouldn’t they, together we can do more than one individual. This ties in really well with The Right Step’s plans for the next month as we get involved with the Age of Creativity Festival. For 2018 their focus is partnership. It’s more than a co-incidence that partnership seems to be the buzz word when talking about weight as well as when discussing arts. Partnership is the way forward, with cuts taking place across the country, the only way to make things happen is to utilize the resources and skills that are already out there. The people are out there and we’re going to find them!

20180925_103119After Councillor Brake, Scott Elliot, Head of Health and Wellbeing Services and, in my opinion, a driving force when it comes to getting Medway healthy and active, talked about what has happened in the year since the last Healthy Weight Summit. He discussed how trends in obesity in Medway are relatively static and similar or slightly above average in comparison to the rest of the country.

20180925_105548The thing that shocked us most though was information found in the following graph. I took a photo of the slide so it may not be clear, but the graph suggests that 63.3% of adults are inactive in the UK. I Tweeted whilst there and found out that this includes adults up to the age of 65. Since then I have also spoken to Scott and have discovered that the drop in activity around 65 / 70 years old is huge, he compared it to a a cliff edge and commented that this has something to do with retirement. We didn’t go into further detail at the time, but this is interesting to me due to our work with older adults and older frail adults. I’m sure the Active Armchairs Facilitators would agree with me, we see the inactivity and we see why regularly. See our Twitter feed for more about this.

I hadn’t realised how many brilliant initiatives are already taking place in Medway and still, new ideas are being developed. These include the Health Walks, cycling groups and, of course, the Better Medway Champions.

The reality is, we are all part of the solution. Scott Elliot

I was especially interested in what Penny Lazell, Physical Activity Nurse Clinical Champion about health professionals delivering the message of the importance of physical activity for wellbeing. She has a long road ahead of her, but it sounds like a great initiative. Physical Activity is a large part of personal wellbeing and it’s important to get this message out in hospitals. Even the smallest movement counts and activity is different for every person, but it is still key.

20180925_111331

 

James Williams, Director for Public Health also spoke. He inspired everyone to go out there and get things done and said it’s “an equalities plan, not all about obesity.” He means that we need to look at all the parts of the jigsaw puzzle that is health (another theme of the day!).

 

20151123_110539At The Right Step we are well aware of the importance of partnership, we are a team of community dance practitioners who work together to do more than any individual could. That is who we are. We also see how dance can be a bridge between arts and sport and therefore is an excellent medium for improving health and wellbeing.

We are always developing though and, moving forward, the summit has encouraged me to look deeper into the type of partnerships we make outside of The Right Step. We work with many schools and care homes, but how else can we partner in order to take dance to more places? This is something for me to explore. For now, I can share some of the work we already have with regards to dance, fitness and weight. Here is a link to all of our blog posts about health and wellbeing…
http://www.therightstepdc.co.uk/category/health-and-wellbeing/ 
We will be discussing all of these things in our next All Hands Meeting (a meeting for all the TRS Teachers that is held twice a year) and we will be speaking to Scott further about how we can reach more of the right people.

I will end with a quote from Scott. I met with him this morning (less than 24 hours after the very busy summit!) and asked him about his thoughts on partnership.

It’s the informalities of partnership and networking that makes them what they are. My quote about partnership would be taken from M Riley who said ‘Start somewhere, follow them everywhere.’ Problems are only going to be solved by working together and we will improve social isolation, community engagement and everything that overlaps. That is why this agenda is such a passion for me.

 

Related Images:

Government Funding

by

As the Government has promised funding for PE and Sport will last longer and to better effect, I’ve decided to explore how The Right Step’s dance classes and teacher training specifically relate to government guidelines and the 5 key indicators. Click HERE to see the guidelines that I’ve referred to below. I’ve also added some links to useful websites that talk further about dance and movement in the curriculum.

Schools must use the funding to make additional and sustainable improvements to the quality of PE and sport you offer.

The Right Step’s dance artists (known as TRS Teachers) are all highly trained and regularly take part in Continued Professional Development (CPD). They also have the backing of the company and their peers to support them. The quality of all TRS dance classes is high and we are always working to improve everything we do.

20130415_122042
We also offer CPD for primary schools staff (predominantly teachers and HLTAs) so that they can deliver dance themselves, as a team. This raises the standard of dance throughout the school in one go. Although dance wouldn’t be an additional part of the curriculum (it is already an essential part), our cross-curricular approach gives staff the confidence, skills, tools and opportunity to provide dance classes more often because pupils learn as they dance.

 

20160318_134935
We offer dance throughout the school day with extra curricular classes taking place before school, at lunch and after school and cross-curricular classes happening during the day. This means schools are able to provide dance for more pupils, building on previous capacity.

The guidelines give 5 key indicators “that schools should expect to see improvement across” and refer to the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation that children and young people engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. 30 minutes of this should be within school time.

A varied programme of extra-curricular dance for each key stage and cross-curricular dance for each year group (we can deliver this approach in the EYFS as well as KS1 and 2) provides the opportunity for schools to boost the amount of time pupils spend doing physical activity without taking time away from learning.

IMG-20160301-WA0005
Every TRS Teacher has different experiences and training so we can offer many different dance styles as well as some fitness classes. In the extreme, pupils can experience Gumboot dance from Africa one term and Tudor Dance the next. A broader range of experiences is available to pupils because the TRS team can work together to provide it. For more information click HERE to read about some of the other dance styles we have on offer.

IMAG7371
Although we don’t offer dance competitions (competitive sport is part of the guidelines) because we have a participatory approach within the company, the profile of physical education can be raised across the school with performances. Pupils can take part in assemblies, school fairs, when filmed in class (we have been part of online advent calendars in the past!) and performances for parents.

This is just a quick overview of how our provision relates specifically to the guidelines. One Dance UK have written a more in depth study about “Delivering Dance Through The PE and Sport Premium Funding”

http://www.onedanceuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Delivering-dance-through-the-PE-and-Sport-Premium-funding.pdf

http://www.onedanceuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Delivering-dance-through-the-PE-and-Sport-Premium-funding.pdf

What Works: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-works-in-schools-to-increase-physical-activity-briefing

Everybody Active: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/everybody-active-every-day-a-framework-to-embed-physical-activity-into-daily-life

For further information about how we can provide dance in your school please send me an email, rebecca.ashton@therightstepdc.co.uk

 

Related Images: