Why Running May Not Be As Bad for Your Knees As You Think
Growing up, I can remember being told that serious dancers should never run, despite the cardiovascular benefits, because the impact is bad for the knees. As it turns out, that might have less basis in fact than we thought.
According to a pilot study recently published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, running might actually be beneficial for your knees. Rather than wearing down the joints, as is commonly supposed, this study adds to the evidence that running can help prevent chronic issues such as osteoarthritis.
In the pilot study, six healthy recreational runners in their twenties either ran or sat for 30 minutes (the subjects each did both, but on different days). The researchers took blood samples and withdrew small amounts of synovial fluid (the lubricant that helps joints to move smoothly) from the knee joints before and after, looking specifically at indicators of inflammation as well as cartilage oligomeric matrix protein (COMP). Higher levels of these substances in the synovial fluid can be an indicator of or contributor to developing arthritis. With all six subjects, after running for 30 minutes two of the inflammation indicators were significantly lower than baseline, and COMP levels lowered in the synovial fluid.
In other words, a moderate amount of running can cause changes within the knee joints that can help keep them inflammation and chronic injury–free. Of course, this was just a pilot study with a small body of subjects, but it does indicate a new angle from which to study the potential benefits of this particular type of exercise—good news for serious dancers who also enjoy going for a morning run, such as ballerina Arolyn Williams or contemporary dancer Stacy Martorana.
That being said, if you want to add a bit of light running to your cross-training regimen, be smart about it: Warm up and cool down properly, wear supportive, properly fitted shoes, be mindful of your alignment and dial it back if the activity is exacerbating any pre-existing injuries you may have. And if running isn't for you, no sweat: This study is also a good indicator that any motion is better for your joints than being sedentary.
Personally, I'd be curious to see whether the basic small jumps practiced in most technique classes might have a similar effect, provided that they're performed with healthy placement. Get on it, dance science!
"Besides the stage, baking is my other happy place," says New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi.
Four years ago, she thought her baking days were over when she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Manzi had been dealing with pain, frequent illness and joint inflammation for nearly 10 years. Once she cut out gluten, Manzi gradually started to feel better, noticing a transformation in how her body felt and functioned. She found her joints were less inflamed, and she got sick less often.
New York City Ballet soloist Unity Phelan and American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary spend every day making their hard work look effortless and graceful both in the studio and onstage. That's exactly what makes them the perfect spokesmodels for the dance-inspired activewear line, Belle Force.
To celebrate our 90th anniversary, we excavated some of our favorite hidden gems from the DM Archives—images that capture a few of the moments in time we've documented over the decades.
This image was captured during a 1978 New York City Ballet tour that took the company to Copenhagen—home turf for Adam Luders (right), who trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and briefly danced with the company before joining NYCB as a principal dancer in 1975. Next to Luders is (of course) George Balanchine, in conversation with ballerina Suzanne Farrell. And looking on with a smile? NYCB's current ballet master in chief Peter Martins.
On March 8, 2016, Rami Shafi found himself inspired to film an impromptu dance video of his best friend, Aaron Moses Robin, improvising on Gay St. in New York City's Greenwich Village. Thus was born Pedestrian Wanderlust, a collection of dance videos that has grown to include a monthly improv jam.
Shafi works with anyone who wants to take part in the project, filming videos in locations chosen by the dancers and later adding music. The videos are shot on Shafi's iPhone in one take and, other than the starting and ending points, are entirely improvised. The editing afterwards—including the music choice—is minimal. "I don't like to edit too much. It's just what it is," says Shafi. "I usually can do the editing on the train ride home."
Many people see dance and choreography as separate pursuits, or view choreography as a dance career's second act. For some dancers, however, performing and choreographing inform one another. "That's just the kind of choreographer I am. I feel things so deeply in my physicality. I have to do it to know it," says Jodi Melnick, who is a prolific performer of her own work. She also maintains an active practice as a performer for other choreographers: Throughout her career, she's worked with Trisha Brown, Twyla Tharp, Tere O'Connor and Donna Uchizono, to name a few.
Though a dual career can be fulfilling, simultaneously inhabiting the roles of dancer and choreographer requires focus, organization and a great deal of energy.
New York City is getting an embarrassment of riches this week—riches of the Emerald, Diamonds and Rubies variety. The Bolshoi Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet and New York City Ballet will be sharing the stage at Lincoln Center to present George Balanchine's Jewels in celebration of the iconic ballet's 50th anniversary.
One of the many stars we're excited to see is Olga Smirnova, our June 2014 cover girl, who will be performing the lead in "Diamonds" as well as the role of Bianca in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Taming of the Shrew next week.
I have always been extremely dramatic. I think "extremely" might even be an understatement. As a child, I was constantly in costume. Never clothes. Always a costume.
When I was 8 we moved into a new house, and took a home video to send to my dad's family. My siblings were performing a song for the camera. I desperately wanted to join them, but they got annoyed and said no. In the video I run out of the room crying hysterically, and you can hear my dad saying, "It's okay, Sam, you can dance for the camera later."
This is followed by about 45 minutes of me dancing. Music changes, style changes, costume changes, the works. Dance was, and still is, the best way I know how to express myself.