Moves Made in Heaven: Why Running and Jazz Were Born to Work Together
Great Dancers and great runners are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.
It’s the perfect pairing: Running and jazz dance. Both elevate the heart and the spirit and both are uplifting physical experiences known to result in wild euphoria once endorphins kick in. Are you sceptical about the true nature of this relationship? You won’t be after we show you the error of your ways, so prepare to be enlightened.
Both running and jazz dance have impressive roots, so even if you’ve never before had the urge to bust a jazzy move, discover how perfectly compatible these two activities are and how putting them together can improve your overall conditioning efforts!
What a difference a study makes!
Have you read about the relationship between runners and their shoes? It’s extensive. Sadly, jazz shoes rarely get this much attention; we found only one study offering insights into the subject of the relationship between jazz shoes and injury potential.
It seems manufacturers of jazz shoes need to step it up if they hope to come close to the number of scholarly articles and papers written about running shoes!
“Investigations of the effect of dance footwear on motion are relatively few when compared with running shoe research,” states the aforementioned Human Kinetics study, where the rigidity of running shoes are found to be the key to injury prevention.
Why mention this? Because if you adopt jazz dance as one of your cross-training activities, you really, really need to protect your feet when you go about your lessons and practices.
Did we scare you?
We hope not. It’s just that we want you up, running and injury free, so if the joy and fun of jazz dance are irresistible, just watch your step. In our eyes, running and jazz make an idyllic couple. Both keep you fit, both are life-affirming and both help you keep off extra pounds while strengthening your bones.
Must you invest in pricey gear if you take up jazz dancing? Not really. You can wear your running shorts and shirts if you like, practice routines using your favourite iPod or enabled headset with pre-loaded tunes, and like running, you’ll run into like-minded people at your studio, so it’s easy to make friends while you learn to make the perfect “jazz hands” and get your moves down.
The same sort of musical beat is applicable for both activities and it’s not hard to find clubs you can join as a runner and jazz dancer.
Where can you find the roots of running? You must look back to man’s evolution thousands of years ago when people hunted, gathered and walked great distances to more hospitable lands when an area that’s been settled is no longer viable. Did these indigenous peoples make music?
Of course they did — and these percussion-based tunes tapped out on primitive drums crafted of animal skin and wood bark were used for the most primal forms of dance, of which jazz is a modern-day version. Running during these eras was absolutely essential if men and women were to escape predatory animals, so back in the day, a good run proved a lifesaving necessity!
Here’s what’s amazing about the synchronicity about these two activities: jazz origins are found in African culture, the same societies that continue produce legendary runners winning today’s high-profile marathons around the globe.
A happy combination
If you’re thinking of adding jazz dance to your regular fitness routine, you may want to know how many ways you benefit from your new workout.
There’s the same sort of joy and excitement you already experience when you run, but jazz dance adds the artistic expression that’s absent when you leave the start line and do all you can to engage your body parts in pursuit of a new personal best.
Jazz dance is a full-body workout; it helps to develop strength, flexibility, coordination and endurance while improving limb coordination and strengthening the back, shoulders and spine.
The challenging dance steps you learn while performing jazz routines keep your brain engaged as you learn rhythmic patterns in much the same way your head acts as a calculator as you strive to hit optimal times along a marathon route.
We should add that the euphoric high you experience when adrenaline rushes through your body when you run is the same experienced by a jazz dancer immersed in his routine.
Give it a try!
You don’t have to sign up for a lifetime of jazz lessons to find out how it feels to switch gears and adopt this creative exercise alternative.
You’ll quickly learn that there’s more to gain than improved body tone if you decide to learn this art. Jazz dance has been proven to break down barriers, promote tolerance and understanding and encourage freedom of expression. How? It’s nearly impossible to stay angry or resentful when engaged in either an invigorating run or a fun jazz routine.
Have you been wary of studying jazz dance because you didn’t think it an effective cross-training activity? Will you re-think your position now that you've read this article?