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What is the Mitchell dance Platform?

The Mitchell Dance Platform is a sprung dance floor that naturally amplifies your steps and protects your legs at the same time.

What is a sprung floor?

The protection of your legs is done by the sprung floor technology I have used in its design. As a carpenter by profession I spent many years building structures including dance studios, sports halls and gymnasiums where a sprung floor was the type of flooring we installed. A sprung floor is multiple layers of material on top of each other, usually timber – used together to create what we call a natural bounce.

I go into more detail in the Engineering behind a Sprung Floor in another article.

You cannot see the floor bounce but rather you can feel it from using it. Exercising, dancing, jogging or playing sport on a sprung floor you will notice a lack of pain in your shins especially but also in your feet, ankles, knees, hips and back. The surface absorbs the shock created when moving and flows with your body.

A non – sprung floor bounces the shock from your body to the floor and back to you again. Imagine you are bouncing using springs on your feet compared to bouncing without springs. Which way do you think will feel better? Which way do you think you can do for longer without pain or tiredness?

That is the difference between a sprung floor and a non – sprung floor. Although they may look the same how they affect your body feels after using them is different.

Old Dance Halls

When researching my design for the Mitchell Dance Platform and helping me to understand better the physical difference between sprung floors and non – sprung floors as well as Irish dancers, I talked with a lot of social dancers in my local community.
Thankfully I have lots of elderly relations and neighbours who love to dance. They shared with me some of their knowledge and wisdom

I asked them to explain to me the difference as they knew it.
“Most of the new dance halls and sports centres” they said “are built using a concrete floor with a sheet of plywood on top, compared to the old dancehalls and sports centres that were built using timber flooring”

“In the new locations you can dance for a few minutes and you are tired and sore and you need a rest. The old venues you could dance all night and not get tired”.
“You can feel the difference”.

I couldn’t believe it would make that much difference. My uncle is 80 and has been social dancing for over 60 years and he is told me he knows whether it’s a “Good floor” or not after a few minutes of dancing.

“I hate these new floors” he told me,
“I am sore the next day and for a few days after”.
“Where once I could dance every night of the week without rest, now I can only dance 1 -2 nights a week”.

When I talked to his friends and other social dancers they said the same. They were adamant to tell me it was not because of their age, and I believe them. I have been to enough weddings and events with my uncles and older relations. If the music is good and the dance floor has a natural bounce they don’t want to leave the floor.  

We create vibration when we move and dance!  

I am sure you have danced on a surface where after a while you feel tired and drained compared to a surface where you can dance all day. I know I have.
I was at friend’s gig last night. It was held outdoors in a local park. Because of its location I could dance for hours and I don’t feel tired or sore today.

Imagine if you will dancing on a concrete car park and then imagine dancing in an open field.  Visually both look solid and when you jump up and down nothing moves.

Take the car-park. This concrete structure can be more than 12 inches of a solid immovable mass packed together with added steal to withstand any penetration. There is zero movement on this surface. That is its design. And it works for cars and heavy vehicles but not for humans or animals. A person could jump up and down on the spot of a concrete car-park for a month and 

nothing would happen. You will have a sore body.
You could take a shovel and hammer to a concrete car-park and although you will make a little damage you will not do much.

Now let’s take a green field or park. This has metres and metres of compressed earth packed together with tree roots, stones, plants and shrubs. All working together to create a solid surface where we can walk, run, dance, play. If you jump up and down on the spot for 5 minutes though, you will see this surface change. The field is absorbing your movement and by doing so is changing the structure of the field.

By dancing and jumping you are creating a vibration, the more you dance and jump and jump the more vibration you create. Our body creates this vibration and also absorbs it. Our body is the spring, unlike a mechanical spring our body has limits. The more vibration we create the more it is absorbed by our body. That vibration then is then held in our muscles and bones.

Dancing in a Car-park or a field?

Compare the car-park and the field. In the car-park, most of the vibration you create has nowhere to go so this will go back into your body. It will bounce from your body to the concrete and back into your body again.
If you are fit and healthy you can do this for a while before your body notices. Over time your body will notice and you will need rest. Or worse if
continued it can lead to injuries.

In the field you can dance and play for hours, yes you will get tired naturally if you are not fit and healthy, yet your body will not experience the same pain and soreness as the car-park. The vibration you are creating is being

 absorbed by the earth and that natural bounce is giving you energy and supporting your body.

As a carpenter I suffered from back terrible pain. I was hammering away on different surfaces every day, creating a vibration with the hammer and the vibration that was not absorbed by the surface I was hitting was absorbed by my body. This built up over time and the more I worked and did not take care of my body the more pain it caused me.

It cost me a lot of money and I had to go through pain at the hands of physios and masseurs to work out the built up tension in my shoulders and back.

When the vibration has nowhere to go it will build up in parts of the body that is experiencing the most use and if not properly released will cause severe pain.

Most places we do activity now are in areas covered in concrete.
We run on footpaths, we dance on timber floors or tiles, we play on AstroTurf pitches, we exercise in gyms or sports halls. In the past these indoor areas were constructed using sprung floor technology now it is all concrete and steel with a layer of timber – carpet – tile – foam or any other surface on top. It all looks the same but underneath there is a world of difference.

Why a Sprung Floor?

A sprung floor is a type of floor design that resembles the natural bounce in nature.
The floor itself may look like a normal solid floor but it is what is underneath the floor that makes the difference.
Multiple layers of material work together to create a soft feel that is more natural to dance – exercise – walk on. It is this design that differentiates a sprung floor than a normal floor. Commonly a sprung floor is made up of multiple layers of timber material with a solid timber surface on top. The top surface transfers the weight while the different layers cushion the impact every time you jump, skip, hop, run, dance, and bounce on the sprung floor. These movements of the floor are very subtle and not detectable by the eye. The floor acts as a big spring – hence the name sprung floor is derived from a floor with a spring.

Picture your wooden floor sitting on a bed of springs and every time you jump and land on the floor the spring’s contract. Now image you are hopping or skipping, you land on the floor then you bounce off it again, the springs contract then expand. As you move the floor moves with you. It works with your movement.

A solid floor or concrete floor does not move in the same way. There is little or no movement.

Although many floors may be described as a sprung floor, unless they use this layered design they are more likely to be a semi – sprung floor.

What is the difference between a sprung floor and a semi sprung floor?
I will go into more detail into that in another article.

Time to re Educate!!

I am well aware from all the dancers I have met while designing the Mitchell Dance Platform and watching dance shows all over the world that dancers are expected to dance on any and every surface. Concrete, tile, carpet, timber floor, cobble stones, and more. The physical health of the dancer is not taken into account and I don’t believe this is right. Our health is our wealth and we have to protect it.

This is why I believe it is important for every dancer to be aware of the type of surface they are dancing on. Their legs are their instrument and dancers need to be encouraged and educated on how to best take care of their legs. Prevention is better than cure and this is part of the reason I started building portable sprung dance floors. I want to help dancers continue entertaining audiences for years and years and then have a perfectly functioning body for the rest of their life.

A saying another uncle who was a carpenter all his life told me: “take care of your body – it’s the only one you have and it has to last you all your life”

Thank you Micky – I don’t always do it but I try.

If you are looking for any advice and more information about different floor types. I am always here to help.
Send me an email to

lorcan@mitchellmusic.ie

All the best

Lorcan

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