A beautiful Bridge
A technically sound bridge is more than simply a dancer’s ability to bend their back. Whilst it’s true that hypermobile dancers may find it easier to press into bridge when first starting out, we must not overlook the need for good strength and flexibility in the quads, hips, shoulders and wrists. The flexibility and strength required for a bridge is achieved overtime with consistent training.
As the back becomes more mobile it will adapt to the movement patterns and requirements of the body in this position. To help take some pressure off the lumbar spine in this position, we want to push the bridge into the shoulders and over the wrists. Similarly, working on hip flexibility will also help alleviate pressure in the lower back and spread the weight distribution throughout the body. The bend in the upper back will be limited due to the placement of the rib cage. Therefore, less movement can be achieved between the vertebrae than in the lumbar spine. We must also gain the strength to control the flexibility to protect our bodies and prevent injury. Special consideration should be paid to hyper mobile dancers. We need to make sure they are not using this hypermobility to compensate for a lack of strength/flexibility in the hips, shoulders and wrists.
As well as flexibility and strength, another focus should be on alignment. When setting up for a bridge, dancers should be on their back with their knees bent, feet in parallel and hip width apart. The hands should reach over the head and be placed underneath the shoulders with the elbows pointing directly up to the ceiling and not splayed to the sides. Once in bridge, the head and neck should follow the curvature of the spine, so the eyes focus on the floor.