As someone who participates in a couple of dance classes each week, there is a chance you may start to feel all that demanding physical activity taking a toll on your body. To be able to continue doing what you love doing without straining yourself, you should always take care of your body by following these simple steps:
1. ALWAYS TAKE TIME TO WARM UP AND STRETCH before the class & COOL DOWN AND STRETCH after the class
I can't stress enough the importance of a good warm up and stretch before the class in order to prepare your body before you push it to its limits. A warm up helps to raise your body temperature, increase your blood flow, and make your muscles ready for the demanding dancing ahead.
It is equally important to cool down and stretch after each practice. The body has to make a number of adaptations during the recovery period before it returns to normal and this does not happen immediately.
We are all unique and each of us responds to physical dance practice differently however fundamental training principles apply to everyone. It is essential that time is given to warm up and cool down as they will improve your physical ability and accelerate the recovery process after dance practice.
2. STAY HYDRATED
Hydration has an extremely important role in any physical activity. Being hydrated helps keep the body from overheating. It improves the performance and it's also a crucial aid in recovery.
Even mild dehydration can lead to an immediate loss of energy and mental focus. That is why drinking regularly (even small, regular sips) is an important habit during the classes or shows. When you feel thirsty that means you're already dehydrated.
Your reusable water bottle should be your constant companion in the studio.
3. MAINTAIN HEALTHY & BALANCED DIET
For any dancer it is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Dancing takes a toll on your muscles, joints and bones. Good eating habits and balanced diet can improve the recovery and even assist with lean muscle growth and soft tissue repair. Also eating the right foods can increase your energy, focus and concentration.
In general a balanced diet for dancers should consist of adequate fluids, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Ideally 3 meals plus 2-3 healthy nutrititious snacks per day.
Lots people ask me what or whether they should eat before or after the classes.
A short answer is:
* Low-fat granola bars, dried fruit or smoothies for energy before dance class
* A combination of protein and carbs after dance class to repair muscle tissue and restore your energy levels
* Sports drinks or water during the practice
When teaching a new choreography and I see people are getting a bit overwhelmed with all those new steps, I always say it will get easier once you sleep on it. It is well known that memory consolidation occurs during sleep, which is so necessary for dancers when learning new choreography or new technique. It is also an essential part of mental and physical recovery.
"Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together." - Thomas Dekker
5. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY & GET ENOUGH REST
Sometimes, as someone who is very passionate about dancing we tend to ignore physical pain, injury or signs of any weakness to keep dancing. However failure to recognise it, could result in long-term damage. It is important to not let that happen.
As dancers, our bodies are our instruments. Try and understand the difference between pain from overuse versus pushing your physical boundaries.
Always take care of yourself, at the end of the day your health is your wealth, so just listen what your body is telling you.
"There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither." - Alan Cohen