Many already know from personal experience that dance whether enjoyed as a physical activity, part of recreation and/or practised as an artistic craft is valuable and rewarding. For many, dance represents freedom and is their chosen form of expression as a way to reveal both who they are in the world, and who they are to the world.
More recently, science has begun to identify and more clearly articulate the many benefits of dance for all age groups, from toddlers through to the very old. We now know for instance that dance promotes neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells which helps children learn, develop better spatial awareness and higher levels of proprioception. While in older populations the practise of dance can help avoid some of the effects of Dementia and Alzheimers. This is in large part due to the process of learning new and increasingly complex movement patterns.
This shouldn’t be surprising. While we have developed computers that can beat our most brilliant minds in maths, analyse the background radiation from moments after the Big Bang and can out play our Grand Masters in chess; we’ve not yet managed to build a robot that can move with greater flexibility and adaptability than a five year old child.
Why? Because movement is challenging. Really challenging. We take movement for granted because we achieved the basics by the time we were two and practise it every day, but movement makes demands on the body and brain in ways we’re only now beginning to understand.
And so while we might now better appreciate the many benefits of dance; the joy, exercise and challenge it presents to our brain and bodies, dance, like all physical activities must also come with the due respect that this wonderful, challenging practise has the potential for injury. Like most physical activities it places added stresses on our bodies and we therefore must do what we can to protect and nurture against such injuries, just as we do with sports and martial arts, etc.
It is for this reason that MDM have engineered the most technologically advanced range of shoes to ensure we can all enjoy dancing at our best.
How the MDM range of dance equipment is different:
The Drawstring – While it seems a purely cosmetic change, by reinforcing the heel MDM are able to dispense with the pull-in drawstring. While there are indeed many cosmetic reasons for doing this and some that are simply irritations, the most important reason is that the majority of the public have protruding heels. This means the Subcutaneous Calcanea Bursa on their heel is susceptible to inflammation if pressure is placed upon it. For this reason MDM have replaced the drawstring with a pre-tied elastic that snugly fits the heel to avoid undue pressure on the bursa.
The Full Sole – A full sole shoe is important for the muscular development of the foot. Having a full sole, in contrast to a split sole, provides resistance to the metatarsal area of the foot ensuring that it must work harder through tendu, thus building the necessary strength for more advanced movements. While the MDM Elemental and Intrinsic may at first glance appear to be standard split sole shoes, and do provide all of the aesthetic benefits of split soled shoes, functionally they are full soled shoes providing resistance to the metatarsal areas of the foot to build strength.
The Bones – Our feet start as cartilage and don’t fully develop into bone in most people until our late tween years. And as young people go through the process of growing spurts their bones thin slightly, adapt and change before thickening and strengthening again, repeating until they stop growing. And like any involved in high intensity physical activity dancers can be susceptible to over-training and muscle fatigue. For this reason MDM have added a layer of EVA for impact support and protection to their range of shoes, which cushion the landing to absorb some of the stresses away from the muscles and bones.
Arch support – Landing from jumping, running or even walking on hard surfaces places strain upon the foot up to 5 times our body weight. In an ideal world where we all had optimal posture and technique 100% of the time we wouldn’t require arch support. We would land, naturally pronate forward a little to absorb the landing stresses, before rolling back into the middle of the foot to take off again. Most people however do not have optimal posture or technique, and even for those with great technique they too are susceptible to fatigue which means a disengagement of accurate technique at certain times. In such cases we land and pronate forward, yet fail to activate the musculature of our foot accurately and take off from a position of non-alignment which puts stress on the feet, ankles, knees, hips and lower back leading to injury over time. It is for this reason that MDM added arch support to it’s Jazz Protract and Sheer Dance Sneakers making them the most comfortable and also the most valuable piece of equipment in your dance bag.
Pronation – As discussed above some pronation is inevitable and indeed desirable. Pronation helps absorb the natural stresses of landing. But as importantly, the foot must also move back from the pronated position to the middle neutral position and take off with the weight evenly distributed across the toes to ensure correct alignment and avoid injury. Dancers with flatter feet or weak feet (and we all start with weak feet) tend to continue pronating and take off from this position, putting undue stress on the skeletal system which can result in the development of a non-aligned musculature. For this reason MDM developed the Dance Base Support which provides feedback to assist in developing the muscles of the feet to provide correct foot position.
There is of course only so much a shoe can do. If we could develop a shoe that would make dancers jump higher – the MDM Trampoline Shoe – or do the splits more easily we would; and believe me I’m sure someone at MDM is already dreaming about it! But while there might be only so much a shoe can do, at MDM we want you to know that we’re committed to doing all that’s possible to ensure every body, from our youngest toddlers toying with their first plié, to our elderly still revelling in their love of dance and movement can dance longer, better, free from injury and feel the joy of dance.
MDM – Engineered for Expression