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Neck stretches for Irish dancers - health tips and warm-ups

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Neck stretches can reduce injury for Irish dancers
Photo credit MD Anderson's Focused on Health

“Tall and straight my mother taught me; this how we dance.” ~Riverdance

As Irish dancers, we are unique in the way that we dance—our arms pressed to our sides, our torsos unmoving and our necks positioned forward at all times. With simple warm ups and a few tips, you can keep your neck in good condition and prevent injuries.

Common sense neck health tips:

-When you are sitting, use good posture.
-Alternate sitting and standing throughout the day.
-When standing for long periods, prop one foot up on a stool to alleviate pressure on your spine.
-While driving, keep your seat close to the pedals so you don’t slouch.
-When dancing, relax your shoulders. Your teacher will love you and you will look better. Try not to clench your fists and keep your upper body straight but relaxed.

Neck warm-ups for Irish dancers:

-Sitting upright and facing forward, gently bend your neck to one side. Repeat on the other side. 10 repetitions.
-Sitting upright, turn neck and face right and then left. 10 repetitions.
-Sitting upright and facing forward, bend neck forward, placing chin to chest, then tip neck backward only as far as is comfortable. 10 repetitions.
-Stand with feet together and knees slightly bent. Hold one arm below the opposite elbow and bend your neck away from that arm. Repeat on the other side. 6 repetitions.
-Interlace fingers above head. With palms facing upward, push arms back and up. Hold for 10 seconds.
-Shrug your shoulders up toward your ears. 10 repetitions.
-Circle your shoulders up to your ears and forward in a rotation for 10 repetitions then repeat the exercise in a rearward rotation.

If you feel any soreness or pain in your neck after dancing, be sure to rest, apply ice and seek medical help if necessary.

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