Katherine is an ex-physiotherapist who has worked for over ten years in Olympic sport. Katherine assisted Vicki to develop The Barre Collective Instructor Training Program and Barre for Rehab.
Physiology of Barre 101
I was first introduced to barre in 2011. I became quickly hooked on the method and how challenging it was. At that time, I was the lead Physiotherapist for British Canoeing and busy preparing our Kayak and Sprint Canoe athletes for the London 2012 Olympics. It struck me early on in my own journey into barre training that elite sport could benefit hugely from it, both in the context of prehab and injury avoidance and in enhancing performance.
We used some of the Barreworks method techniques to correct and aid efficient movement patterns using the principles of dynamic stability to test control in key areas of the athlete’s body, including spine and pelvis, but most notably for our athletes in the shoulder girdle.
The athletes found the addition of Barre to their training programme of benefit physically by changing the stimulus (from their routine heavy gym lifting) to focusing on better integration of global and local muscular systems and mentally through challenging neuro-muscular control and cognitive process. Crucially, they also found it emotionally beneficial - the perfect 'recovery' or ‘rest-day session, avoiding over-training whilst managing nerves and performance anticipation.
Sometime later, I began to work closely with Vicki to look more closely at the specific physiological benefits of barre - specifically, those that set barre apart from other similar conditioning disciplines such as the more common practice's of Pilates or Yoga.
The detail of this study formed a key part of the Instructor Training Foundation course, originally conceived (and endorsed via regulatory body PD: Approval) in 2013.
We explored the following areas:
What, specifically is the Barre effect?
What makes barre so functional?
Is it isometric?
What is the ‘Barre Burn’?
What is the functional relevance of Barre?
What is the neural component of Barre?
What is ‘Opposition’?
How does barre support the proportion of muscle activation and timing of muscle recruitment?
What is movement symmetry?
We later used the findings to develop strategies for application into specific elite sports disciplines and more generally to train Rehab professionals in some of the techniques that could be used to support injury rehabilitation or movement limitation amongst the general public.
Understanding WHY barre is effective and HOW it works is essential for any barre professional. Educating clients who may express an interest in this or being able to apply techniques used in barre to any scenario, whether in an elite sport or basic rehab for the general public is a certain step closer to establishing the credibility of barre now and for the long-term.