Part injury prevention and rehabilitation, part fully body workout. Whether you’re injured or in peak condition, Sugarfoot Therapy is a challenge. My physical therapist Nick Cutri and his wife (and fellow dancer/choreographer) Katie Schaar created SFT to disrupt dancer’s bad movement habits. While dancers look and move like superheroes, they often develop movement patterns that stress and damage tissue overtime. SFT was integral in rehabilitating my torn shoulder(s) and continues to strengthen my body as a whole today.
But Sugarfoot Therapy is not just for dancers, I’ll let them explain:
Where did the idea for Sugarfoot Therapy come from?
I (Nick) had been treating several dancers in the PT clinic, rehabbing existing injuries. Every time I went to discharge a dancer patient, they would express that although their injury was fully healed, they wished they could keep coming to PT…they had never felt stronger in their bodies…they wished somebody had taught them these types of therapeutic exercises much earlier in their lives.
We did some research and realized that there were very limited resources for dancers in terms of science-based conditioning and injury prevention training. While many athletic programs have well-developed strength and conditioning programs, dance was in need of a program that bridges the gap between up-to-date kinesiology and physical therapy practices and dance technique. We decided to put a program online so that it could be a universal resource for the dance community.
Through our website, any dancer or dance teacher in the world can instantly access clinically proven exercises and workouts. A home exercise program is a huge part of the Physical Therapy process. With Sugarfoot Therapy, we have created a library of our evidence-based exercises…used by my patients, dancers and dance teachers worldwide, as well as by other Physical Therapists.
What does a typical workout look like?
I am a specialist in Functional Science; it is at the core of my practice as a Physical Therapist. With Sugarfoot Therapy, we merge functional exercise with dance-relevant movement. Our workouts always begin with dynamic mobility and neuromuscular activation exercises and then progress to strength and stability work.
Many orthopedic dance injuries are overuse injuries caused by a repeated dysfunctional movement pattern that places continued stress on a tissue over a period of time. The only way to fix the problem is through a process of movement re-education…and this takes repetition and practice. SFT exercises first retrain the neuromuscular system with functional exercises, and then we advance the exercise into more extreme dance-relevant positions…such as external hip rotation and demi point. This way the movement re-education translates into actual dancing.
Your routines seem to stress hip stability. So what exactly is hip stability?
Hip stability is having the neuromuscular activation and muscular strength to control the hip joint through its entire range of motion…during push off, during landing, while standing on one leg and kicking the other, etc.
…why is it so important?
The hips are the center point of the body, so if the hips are unstable it can cause a chain reaction of problems throughout the body…both above the hips and below the hips. Dancers often have tremendous mobility in their hips…not meaning that the muscles around the hips are extremely flexible, but that the hip joint itself has a huge range of motion. This is how dancers are able to create the gorgeous lines and shapes they are known for. The problem is many dancers lack the functional strength to control all of that range of motion. And instead of taking the impact of their expansive and explosive movements into the big structurally stable hip joint with it’s big powerful musculature, they take the impact into the soft tissue surrounding the hips.
Furthermore, one cannot adequately control their hip mobility, that instability often trickles down through the femur and affects the knee…which can then continue down and affect the ankles and feet. Over time this can wreak havoc on the connective tissue in the hips, knees, and lower back. A large number of injuries can be traced back to instability in the hips. So with SFT, we focus heavily on creating mobile stability in the hips, and how that mobility and stability integrates into the function of the body’s movement chain.
Can non-dancers benefit from the SFT Routines?
Yes! I prescribe SFT routines to non-dancers all the time. The main focus of our exercise routines is to improve your body’s functional biomechanics. This is something that benefits all bodies and can help us to live sustainable active lives, while reducing the occurrence of pain and inflammation caused by dysfunctional movement patterns.
How would someone who is new to fitness with less body awareness, know if they’re doing SFT right?
We teach our program with a lot of joint alignment cues. For example, “Your toes should be pointing straight forward and as your knee bends it should track straight forward over your second toe.” With our emphasis on hip stability, you will feel a great deal of glute activation…so sore booties are common! Also keep in mind that you should never experience joint pain with SFT. At the end of a workout, you will feel both strong and flexible.
Would you consider a SFT Routine a complete workout?
Absolutely. Many of our workouts focus on a specific joint or movement principal (e.g. SFT Ankle Stability Circuit, SFT Jumps, SFT Knee Stability Circuit), but every workout works the entire body. For example, if you are looking to strengthen your ankles and prevent future ankle sprains…the only way to actually develop functional ankle stability is to work on the ankle with all of the other moving parts in a full body workout.
Outside of SFT, how do you two workout?
Nick: We go on a lot of hikes/walks/jogs pushing our 18 month old son in a stroller! I workout at the PT clinic at the end of my work day…usually a 45-60 minute circuit workout of functional exercises and traditional weight lifting. My focus is always trying to create movement authenticity by incorporating 3 dimensional movement into my program design.
Katie: Dancing/choreographing professionally is a lot of my workout. I teach SFT classes weekly and perform the circuits regularly. But I love how my body feels with a variety of training…yoga, Pop Physique, running, aerial silks training.
Check out Sugarfoot Therapy for yourself! Click here.
I wanted to share some highlights from this year’s Wanderlust 108 on Santa Monica Pier! This was my second year attending the mindful triathlon and per-usual, it did not disappoint. The morning started with a 5K beach run followed by yoga with Chelsey Korus and meditation with Joanna Harper. Nothing like a long day in the sun, laughing, flowing and dancing with hundreds of your closest friends. I was excited to be outfitted in the new Adidas x Wanderlust co-branded apparel. The strappy back made for an awesome tan line 🙂
photos: Adidas ///
I recently had the pleasure of hosting some runs at an event involving two of my favorite companies: Refinery29 and Adidas. It was all to continue the celebration of the release of Adidas Running’s latest shoe created specifically for the female foot- the UltraBoostX. I’ve spent a lot of time in these shoes the past few months and I love them. The shoe’s floating arch, boost sole and primeknit upper hug my foot like glue to keep up with my every move.
The event took place in Santa Monica, California in front of the gorgeous adidas 3rd St Promenade store. There were 3 runs throughout the day- 1 and 2 miles led by Remi Ishizuka and myself and a 3 mile led by my girls Diana Mireles and Mellie Cay. These three ladies have been at my side since I started sharing my fitness journey last year so this was an especially exciting combination of women 🙂
Throughout the day there were insane performances by treadmill dancers who were once on America’s Got Talent. As a professional dancer, I tip my hats to those ladies turning, leaping and jumping all while in perfect unison on a moving belt! Juice Served Here poured delicious runner themed pressed juices and attendees were able to try on the Ultra Boost X and enter a raffle for an Adidas gift card. Adidas swag, Rx bars and tunes from DJ Lola Langusta kept the energy flowing all afternoon.
Despite the classic ocean-fogged weather, I met SO many new faces full of energy, eager to become #GreaterEveryRun. Thank you to Adidas Running and Refinery 29 for having me be apart of such an inspiring afternoon and thank you to all of my friends new and old for coming out!
I am lucky enough to try new workouts on the regular. Some are trendy, shiny and gimmicky… others like BodyBoss Method, let the work do the talking. It’s a straight forward, 12 week fitness guide that uses High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as the basis to reshaping your body.
BodyBoss explains, “The HIIT technique involves repeated bursts of brief, intense anaerobic exercise performed at maximum effort, alternated with short periods of recovery.” BodyBoss HIIT days consist of 7-8 exercises done for 7-8 minutes and repeated for 3 rounds. This is a total workout time of 24 minutes. When you complete your workout, you continue to burn calories as your body recovers. This is called afterburn or the #BossEffect.
A typical week with BodyBoss looks like this:
Your workout week begins with Legs and Booty HIIT.
My favorite BodyBoss Leg and Booty exercise is the squat with side kick. You kill two birds with one stone lifting your ass while kicking out your aggression.
With your feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart, do a squat without letting your knees go beyond your toes. Try to lower yourself back until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
Dig your heels into the ground and press back to vertical, shifting your weight to your left leg. Kick your right foot as if you’re busting through a doorway with your heel. Return to squat and repeat.
Tuesdays are about keeping the train in motion with some light exercise. The BodyBoss schedule reads my body’s mind and creates peaks and valleys in the week so you don’t get burned out. Bike, swim, go for a walk or take yoga.
Arms, Abs and Core HIIT days are Wednesday. I find that working my core always re-energizes my body so hump day is the perfect day for this session. I love V Sit Ups because they’re simple and there are so many variations to challenge yourself.
Start on your back with your feet and shoulders hovering above the ground,
Exhale while you engage your ab wall to lift your upper body towards your lower body. You can keep your legs bent, straight or even twist to either side to work your obliques.
Thursdays are for Cardio. I use these days as opportunities to make a fit date. Running, hiking, cycling and group classes are always more fun with with partner.
Fridays are the big finale. Total Body HIIT days. These days you rotate between only 4 exercises that usually correlate with what you did on Monday and Wednesday. These days usually require less reps but more energy and explosiveness from you. The BodyBoss book says, “Think of it as your Friday super power session!”
My favorite BossBody exercise for Full Body days is the Aeroplane Push Up. A plank alone is a great way to engaged your full body, but with a twist and push up added on you’ll be the best kind of dead by rep 12.
From plank position, lower your upper body towards the ground.
Push your arms straight and shift your body weight onto your right hand. Lift your left elbow towards the sky, opening your body outward.
Extend your arm and focus to the sky to form a straight line. Return to starting position and repeat on the left.
My thoughts on BodyBoss
Amazing for Beginners. This book teaches you how to work out. Not only does it tell you what to do, it tells you how to do it. The back of the book has a full glossary of how to do the most basic to advanced moves. For someone just beginning their fitness journey who may never have done a squat in their life, they have a 4 week pre-training program to ease you into the motion before fully committing to the 12 week plan.
Amazing for hardcore fitness fanatics. There is an option to increase the intensity of every exercise in the book. Adding weights, ankle weights, stairs etc, takes each exercise to the next level.
BodyBoss budgets time for stretching. I also love that the book budgets time within the workout for stretching. Long, lean bodies are created by working the muscle then stretching it. Even as a dancer, I take stretching for granted. The Body Boss stretches are simple, but seeing them on the page makes stretching before and after your workout a no brainer.
Option to pick and choose. BodyBoss is effective whether or not you are following their 12 week plan. I love to workout at home or while I travel, but I often spend just as much time thinking of exercises as I spend actually doing them. The Body Boss book gives me a roadmap for my workout, wherever I am in the world.
You can travel with it. Many people skip workouts when they travel because they are away from their local fitness classes, regular running routes, or usual gym equipment. BodyBoss HIIT days require nothing else but the book. I like to take photos of the pages I’ll need while away so all I don’t need to pack anything extra at all!
-20% CODE: MEAGANBB
Good through May 2017 via link above. I make no profit on this, but let me know if you purchase and try!
I started running recreationally about four years ago. I laced up, plugged in and worked up a sweat giving little thought to form or function. This approach to running contrasts to my life as a dancer. Over the years I have been taught to be aware of what every inch of my body is doing and why. I have memories of repeating the same movement over and over until it became second nature. I would never claim to be a perfect dancer, but I do take pride in being an aware dancer. In January I started to share my workout life online via photos on Instagram, this blog and through my ambassadorship with Adidas Running. I’ve continued upon my run-to-feel-good ways until I scrolled upon this sponsored ad of me to the right. Comments read “yikes, that heel strike tho,” and “her hips are gonna be hurting with that stride”. ……GASP….STOP THE PRESSES… WHAT’S A HEEL STRIKE? SEND HELP. I will NOT be the Kendall Jenner of running.
Meet Jessie Zapo (@jessiezapo). Jessie and I met in January at the Adidas PureBOOSTx launch in Santa Monica. Over the span of seven years Jessie has carved a space for women and new runners in the NYC urban running community. Named “the first lady of running,” Jessie created and produced programs for organizations like Bridgerunners, The Black Roses NYC and Girls Run NYC. During a recent trip to New York I was lucky enough to have some one on one sessions with Jessie that opened my eyes and rocked my running world.
My first revelation on form was understanding how it’s systematically inefficient to lead with your heel. I used to think that a longer stride was created by reaching my foot/heel further and further in front of me. My run was low and heavy but my stride was long so I never thought there was a problem.
A stride that leads with your heel (heel strike) involves 4 steps per stride, while a mid foot strike only involves 3:
Heel Strike Stride:
- KNEE LIFTS
- HEEL TO GROUND CONTACT
- MID FOOT CONTACT
- KICK BACK
Mid Foot Strike Stride:
- KNEE LIFTS
- MID FOOT TO GROUNT CONTACT
- KICK BACK
A correct stride is initiated by the knee. The force of your knee lifting into air sends your body upward and propels forward into your next stride. Your foot never reaches in front of the knee that’s lifted- it hits the ground directly underneath.
Jessie sent me this video from Competitor Magazine to help understand this concept.
In dance class I was always taught to jump off the ground heel, ball, toe and land toe, ball, heel to absorb gravity and protect my joints. This is not the case when you run. Though you will naturally run in this sequence, emphasizing the toe ball heel landing will slow you down. Lifting your knee with a flexed foot, positions your foot to land directly on the ball when you put it down underneath you. Your heel will follow.
Before our lessons, my run felt heavy. I put emphasis down/into the ground with every stride. Jesse encouraged me to think of the action as UP. Your foot is pushing off the ground rather than hitting the ground with every stride. Thinking “UP UP UP” immediately made my run lighter and stride longer. More time in the air gave me more time to propel forward and run faster.
- Pro: Swedish design is stunning. Each pair comes with a chic matching leather pouch and rose gold clip to store and secure the headphones.
- Pro: The sound is great, even my musician boyfriend approves. Sudio explains the headphones have a “tuned driver and amplifier. The combination of driver and amplifier is able to separate the sound of every instrument in every song, thereby giving the listener a true studio experience.”
- Pro: Bluetooth/wireless aspect helps streamline my everyday activities. City walks and airplane rides are less of a mess and I don’t have to make sure my phone is within wire’s distance away.
- Pro: The headphones are super light, I forget I’m wearing them. Sudio claims they are the lightest on the market thus far weighing 14g.
- Con: Despite trying all four ear bud sizes that come with the headphones, they fall out when I jog, dance or workout. This was major for me as I continue my search for a pair of headphones that not only look and sound amazing, but stays secure even with extreme physical activity.
Overall, these headphones are chic and fantastic for all activities except working out.
Check out Sudio Sweden here. Enter discount code “YouKongDoIt” for 15% OFF.