Dance is an art form that gives us the opportunity to use our bodies, and minds, in ways we never imagined. It’s a challenging sport that requires hours of practice and trickier than it appears. If you’re a dancer, you know just how physically demanding this career can be on your body. Your muscles ache after rehearsals and performances, and you spend many sleepless nights perfecting new moves. Being a successful dancer involves far more than simply being able to move well with music. You need to take care of your body so that you can keep dancing for years to come. Balancing the demands of dance with other responsibilities isn’t always easy, but there are some simple things you can do to ensure success.
★ Don’t Neglect Your Body
Dance is a demanding physical activity and you should treat your body accordingly. If you don’t stretch before and after rehearsals and performances, you can incur serious injuries, including pulled muscles and damage to your joints. You also want to make sure you are hydrated enough to avoid muscle cramps. When it comes to nutrition, dancers, like other athletes, have special nutritional needs. You need to eat enough food to fuel your body for long hours of rehearsals and performances. Avoiding junk food is a good idea. You also want to avoid drinking too many caffeinated beverages because they can mess with your sleep patterns. Make sure you are getting enough protein as well.
★ Watch What You Eat And Drink
Dancers have specific nutritional needs based on the high amounts of energy consumed during rehearsals and performances. It is important to eat three balanced meals a day, including a snack before and after you practice, while drinking two liters of water a day. To keep your energy up throughout the day, try to avoid sugar and caffeine and instead focus on high-protein foods, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
★ Take Breaks Between Rehearsals And Performances
Long hours of rehearsals can lead to muscle strain and even injuries if you don’t take enough rest breaks. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons recommends taking at least one 15-minute break every two hours. If you are sore, you may need to take an extended break from dancing to recover fully. Similarly, if you have a show coming up, you need to take breaks between practices. During your performance season, you need to pace yourself, taking frequent breaks between practices to avoid injury.
★ Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough sleep is something that many dancers don’t prioritize. However, sleep is crucial for your body and mind, especially when you’re taking on strenuous dance practices. Sleep experts recommend that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Try to establish a sleep routine and stick with it so that your body gets used to the schedule and it becomes easier to fall asleep and wake up at the right times each day.
★ Exercise Outside of Dance Practice
Although dance is a form of exercise, it is not the only type of exercise you should be doing. You should be doing cardio and strength training at least three times a week. You also need to find time to take a yoga class or go for a walk at least once a week. If you are finding it difficult to fit in outside exercise while dancing, try to schedule your dances early in the day or on weekends so that you have a better chance of fitting in other activities.
★ Stretch On A Regular Basis
A regular stretching routine can help prevent muscle soreness and injuries, especially if you incorporate yoga into your routine. You will also find it easier to get into proper dance positions if you stretch regularly. If you have been dancing for a while, it is also a good idea to take a yoga class for dancers once a week in order to improve your flexibility and overall strength.
Dance is an amazing art form that challenges you in many ways. It is also a physically and mentally challenging career that requires long hours of practice and dedication to perfecting new moves. If you want to be a successful dancer, you need to take care of your body by eating the right foods and drinking enough water, getting plenty of sleep and exercising outside of dance practice. You should also make sure to stretch on a regular basis. If you make these changes to your daily routine, you will find that it is much easier to thrive as a dancer.
If you want additional information about this topic you can check BECOMING A HEALTHY DANCER - Caring for you mind and body as a dancer by Leah, here she talks about why dancers have different needs and how can they (you) create balance doing small changes.