How Different Nervous Systems in the Body Relate to Dancers

How Different Nervous Systems in the Body Relate to Dancers

The nervous system is very complex and consists of many different parts. In this essay I will look at the 4 main nervous systems, and any subsystems in the body. I will also look at how they relate to dancers.

Central Nervous System
The central nervous system consists of the brain and the spinal cord and is the control centre of the nervous system. It is made up of millions of neurones which communicate by sending electrical messages. The central nervous system mainly controls behaviour by processing the’ inputs’ or events that are happening and sending back appropriate ‘outputs’ . (Anissimov, Michael. 2010) This system is vital to dancers for example, how to react when a partner prepares to lift a dancer, the dancer needs to know how to react and how to move the body in order to complete the movement.
(Purchon, Nigel D. 2006) (Wikipedia.2010) (Anissimov, Michael. 2010) (Sanders, Dawn. 2010)

Peripheral Nervous System
The peripheral nervous system contains all of the sensory nerves like taste, smell, sight, hearing and touch. It consists of sensory neurons which send messages to the central nervous system that send information to the brain or spinal cord. It also consists of motor neurons which run from the central nervous system to the muscles and glands to take action. For example, dancers most often use music and without the peripheral nervous system, the music that we hear would not be passed on, therefore our muscles would not be able to take action and dance to the music.
(Kimball, John W. 2009) (Sanders, Dawn. 2010)

Autonomic Nervous System
The autonomic nervous system controls things in your body without you knowing. I.e., automatic body responses, like your heart beating. It consists of sensory and motor neurons that run between your internal organs and the central nervous system, and the actions are involuntary. The autonomic nervous system has two subsystems. (Sanders, Dawn. 2010) (Kimball, John W. 2009)

Sympathetic Nervous System
The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the start of adrenaline or ‘noradrenalin’. The release of this stimulates heartbeat, raises blood pressure and also pumps blood away from the skin to the muscles, brain and heart. The release of adrenaline is extremely useful to dancers. It increases speed and strength and gives your body a whole new energy. In a performance situation, it can make a dancer feel nervous but once it kicks in, it can enhance a dancer’s performance and allow them to perform at their peak.
(Sanders, Dawn. 2010) (Harrison, Dr David. 2005) (Kimball, John W. 2009)

Parasympathetic Nervous System
The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for returning the body functions back to normal after they have been changed by the sympathetic nervous system, or stop of adrenalin. It slows down the heart rate, lowers the blood pressure and increases the blood flow back to the skin. Dancers cannot always have adrenaline pumping as this would be tiring and we would never see a difference when we perform as to when we are practising in class. (Sanders, Dawn. 2010) (Kimball, John W. 2009)

Sensory Reflex Nervous System
Sensory reflex nervous system is the reaction that takes place after the messages have been sent to the brain and spinal cord. There are afferent and efferent reactions. Afferent neurons carry the message from where it is received (for example from your hand when it is touching a hot plate), to the brain. Efferent neurons carry the response from the brain back to the receiver (e.g. back to your hand to tell you to take it off the hot plate.) Theses neurons are important to dancers as they tell us what positions don’t feel right or hurt so we don’t damage our bodies. They also help to communicate when partnering, for example your partner squeezing your hand before a lift to let you know they are ready. (K, Florentyna. 2010) (Sanders, Dawn. 2010)

In this essay I looked at many of the different nervous systems in the body and how they relate to dancers. I was totally unaware of how important the nervous systems are for dancers but without them, we wouldn’t respond to music or other people or even pain when we are doing something wrong.


Anissimov, Michael. 2010. (21.08.10)

Harrison, Dr David. 2005. (21.08.10)

K, Florentyna. 2010. (21.08.10)

Kimball, John W. 2009. (21.08.10)

Purchon, Nigel D. 2006. (21.08.10)

Sanders, Dawn. 2010. Anatomy and Nutrition. (23.06.10)

Wikipedia. 2010. (21.08.10)