This series was first published in 2014 for Arizona Dance e-Star, a publication of the Arizona Dance Coalition. In this series of articles you’ll learn how to treat low back pain… hip and groin pain… knee and leg pain… and ankle and foot pain. In Part 6 I’ll tell you how to test the children in your classes so you’ll know their muscle strengths and weakness — and share the corrective exercises their muscles will need in order to be strong for the rest of their lives.
Starlets On The Rise
Who is in your class? What are they made of? Until the 1960s children practically owned the world. It was theirs for the running, jumping, rolling, skipping, twirling, skating, hopping, biking, walking, swinging, sliding and climbing. But we have abdicated to strollers, cars, buses, TVs, iPads and video games. How dull. We have given up rain, slush, snow, cold, heat, puddles, mud, grass, gutters, rocks, rivers and the smells and sensations that go with them.
The result is that the children coming into your classes for dance instruction are weak and inflexible. Their bodies are unorganized, overweight and have no stamina. They have not had the opportunity to build their body’s confidence when it counted: from birth to six. They are tired from doing nothing.
Do you even notice? If so, how do you start?
Back in the first article (May 2018), I told you that one of the things Bonnie Prudden was known for was her 1955 report on the UNfitness of American children as compared with their European counterparts. The report — delivered during a White House luncheon with President Eisenhower presiding — became known as The Report that Shocked the President, and led to the formation of the President’s Council on Youth Fitness.
The test used in Bonnie’s report — the Kraus-Weber Test for Minimum Muscular Fitness for Key Posture Muscles — was initially developed and used to determine the minimum muscular effectiveness needed by people suffering from disabilities (such as disabling backache) to be able to overcome their difficulties. Therefore, any healthy person should be able to pass it.
However, in America 58% of children could not pass it as compared to 9.% of Swiss, Italians and French children of the same age group. The American children were diagnosed with Hypokinetic Disease, which is caused by not enough activity. The medical implications, as reported by Dr. Kraus at the same White House meeting, are:
- coronary heart disease;
- low back pain;
- psychiatric problems;
- muscle tension; and
These diseases — of epidemic proportions today — were predicted back in 1955 by Bonnie Prudden and Dr. Hans Kraus, and a simple solution was laid out. The trouble was that the solution seemed too easy, and those in charge were not willing to admit their mistakes of neglect and lack of insight. Others were not willing to give up their own more complicated tests and solutions for fear of being thought incompetent… which they were.
So Now What?
Begin by giving your little would-be dancers the Kraus-Weber Test. In 90 seconds you will know where their muscle weaknesses lie, and you can begin to improve their little bodies. This test and how to score it is in all of Bonnie Prudden’s books, along with the corrective exercises.
If ALL children could pass this test and do the few exercises to maintain the strength and flexibility required for a lifetime, we could cut this nation’s back pain rate by 3/4ths and national health care costs for low back pain by the same amount. Since backache accounts for millions of trips to the emergency room, it would take quite a burden off the ER.
It seems like not only a small price to pay (a few minutes of meaningful daily exercises), and also a smart economic choice.
Here Is How You Begin
The Kraus-Weber Test, along with instructions on how to score it and the corrective exercises to do, are shown below. If you can’t do this yourself, explain the test to the parents and then enlist their help to give the test to their children. That way, the parents will be able to follow up at home with the corrective exercises that need to be done.
Even if a child passes the test, he / she should still do the required exercises in order to maintain the level of fitness needed for daily living. Parents too should take the test and do the exercises in order to maintain freedom from low back pain and posture problems.
It has been shown over and over again that the physical fitness level of a child:
- is related to his ability to learn in the classroom…
- affects his performance on the playground and in turn, his standing with his peers…
- is related to his emotional stability…
- is related to his ability to release tension quickly, efficiently and completely. This in turn affects behavior in the classroom…
- has a bearing on his ability to read…
- will affect his attendance in class…
FITNESS means the ability of the body to tolerate stress in all its forms…hard day at school, a germ that invades the body, a quarrel, a fall from the jungle gym, a bad test score.
PHYSICAL FITNESS is linked inseparably to personal effectiveness in every field Anyone willing to take a few simple steps that lie between him and fitness will shortly begin to feel better and the improvement will reflect itself in every facet of his experience. —Karre Rodahl, MD
As a dance teacher of starlets, you are in a perfect position to effect positive change. Take the challenge and if you need help contact me, Enid Whittaker, at 520-529-3979 or via www.bonnieprudden.com.
This is the last in my Bonnie Prudden Painless Dance and Star Performance series.
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®. Drawings by Bonnie Prudden.