Breathing effectively for dancing

The topic of this blog article from Oxford University Press is breath training for expressiveness in movement. It discusses how breath training is a useful strategy for enhancing movement in dancing.

Breath support for movement

Breathing training for dancing is not something that is a major part of a dancer’s routine. It will not be considered as important as stretching, strengthening and balance work. However the authors of this article feel it should be integral.

Dance prompts impair breathing

A dancer will be asked to pull their tummy in. This is to help with balance and control of a movement. The effect of this, if overdone, can impair not only movement but also breathing.


Educating a dancer about the relationship between central support and muscular support for breathing will help. The authors tell us that the diaphragm can be tight, just like any other muscle. They also tell us that it can have a limited range of motion too. Dancers will spend time stretching out muscles, such as their hamstrings. But they do not think abut the breathing muscles, and the connection between the pelvic floor and the mouth.

A case study

A synchronised swimmer who is now a professional dancer had the circumference of her ribcage measured after stopping swimming. Her measurements showed a 2” reduction in circumference. The authors explain the reason for this. It is because the inspiratory muscles, the diaphragm and intercostals, were not able to stretch as far. This shows that the inspiratory muscles require strength and endurance training, just as a dancer’s legs do for instance.

Training the inspiratory muscles

“Training the breathing mechanism should be as important as training the legs and core.” This is what the authors say in the article. POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) will help. POWERbreathe IMT exercises the breathing muscles like a ‘dumbbell for the diaphragm’. It uses a breathing load, or resistance, to train the breathing muscles to become stronger. It also increases breathing stamina and reduces fatigue. This improves performance.

Be conscious of your breathing

The authors finish by saying how we can all benefit from breathing better. “Beyond the dance studio, conscious awareness of breathing function can enhance our choices for creating ease in daily life, to release unnecessary tension, and restore the body towards balance.”

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