Why is it important to take care of your body as a dancer?
A dancer’s passion is such a powerful force –
It’s what keeps us up late during hell week rehearsals and gets us up early at the crack of dawn for call times.
It’s what motivates us to take class on our days off from school, work, and rehearsal, because we love it.
It’s what pushes us out of our comfort zones and tests our limits with new styles, environments, and challenges.
Dancers are relentless.
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But the same relentless passion that can push someone to want to be a better dancer – is also what can make us over-stress our bodies to the point. It can make us train to the point where it becomes counterproductive.
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In a way, over-training can be even more detrimental than under-training. To avoid the risk of getting sick or injured, make sure to take care of your body – your tool as a dancer – so that your legs will still work like they used to before!
Implement these simple habits and exercises into your every day – you’ll look, feel, and dance with more vitality than ever.
(See Related Article: 19 Feelings Your Body Loves And Hates As A Dancer)
How To Take Care Of Your Body As A Dancer:
1. Replenish Your Body With Nutrients – Regularly!
Dancing, while not exclusively an athletic activity, is still extremely physically demanding.
To maintain a healthy diet dancers need to make sure they’re consuming enough calories.
An easy estimate of how many calories a dancer needs to consume on daily basis is 45-50 calories per kilogram of body weight for females and 50-55 calories per kilogram of body weight for males. Whip out your calculators!
During class, rehearsals, and especially competitions, it’s important for dancers to replenish the nutrients they lose throughout the day.
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Complex carbohydrates like bread, rice, and pasta are musts in a dancer’s diet. During long rehearsals, drink sports drinks that are rich in glucose, to help replace lost energy and fluid. It also helps to eat a a small snack of complex carbs + protein after any strenuous workout to restore the lost nutrients in your muscles.
In addition, protein from foods like tofu and skinless poultry help repair frequently used muscle tissue. Vitamins and minerals are essential for dancers, and the best way to ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need is eating a variety of food every day, including a recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, dairy products, and lean red meat. Take care of your body by nourishing it right!
2. H2O! Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
Whether you’re rehearsing for a big competition or just prepping for choreo day with a small group, you will lose quite a bit of fluid when you’re dancing. Think a water bottle or two during practice is enough to stay hydrated? Wrong!
Water is a must-have during any type of physical activity, but dancers need to hydrate much more frequently. In one rehearsal or class, a dancer can lose up to 2 liters of fluid per hour. Yikes.
“Fueling the Dancer” suggests drinking a cup of water every 15 minutes to avoid dehydration. Fluids are especially important after class and rehearsal, but make sure to steer clear of carbonated drinks and fruit juice. Drinking tons of fluids is a simple, easy way to take care of your body as a dancer.
(See Related Article: 5 Things Dancers Should Remember Before Competition Day)
3. Warm Your Body Up – And Stay Warm
Teachers, team captains, and directors start rehearsals and classes with warm-ups for a reason. A good warm-up helps get your muscles ready to move so you’re less stiff and less prone to pulling or straining something.
In addition, it’s also important to stay warm while you’re not dancing. If you decide to take a break and wait on the side, make sure to cover up so you don’t catch a cold and do a quick warm-up before you go back on.
4. Don’t Skip Strength Training
Though dancing is a strenuous physical activity on its own, other forms of exercise can supplement your training.
Lifting weights can not only develop muscle strength but also improve posture and alignment, both essential for clean movements.
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Pilates is another great option for dancers to take care of your body. It’s a system of physical conditioning with exercises and stretches that improve strength, flexibility, and mental awareness.
“There’s a marriage between pilates and dance and pilates are great for dancers in regard to strengthening and refraining from injury,” said Anne Ellis, doctor of physical therapy at Evergreen Physical Therapy in Pasadena, CA.
5. Relax And Stay Focused.
While we often place emphasis on physical health and fitness, mental health is just as important for dancers. It’s not uncommon to see dancers in constant motion both physically and mentally, and without rest, they run the risk of getting sick or injured.
Sleep, though sometimes difficult to find the time for, is important for memory, energy, and concentration. After a good night’s sleep, you’re sure to get the most out of class or rehearsal with the focus and power to perform at your best.
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Focus is especially important for shows and competitions.
Especially on show days, keep your adrenaline at a manageable level by breathing, and visualizing your performance to feel more confident and ready when it’s time to hit the stage.
6. Listen To Your Body.
Sometimes, a dancer’s passion is so powerful that they will do anything to dance, including ignoring their pain and sickness to keep dancing. However, they neglect the fact that one sickness or injury can end up bringing their dance career to a halt altogether.
Don’t be afraid to see a doctor or physical therapist about recurring or frequent pain. Sitting out a few rehearsals or taking a sick day is better than having a serious sickness or injury put you out for a long time.
When dancing for a studio or team, it becomes easy to put the success of your group over your own well-being. But you have to be well in order to be able to give back at all. If anything, self-care is a way to show others your dedication to dance because you are training your body to keep up with your goals and keep you dancing for as long as possible.
You can know how to take care of your body best, by simply paying attention to it.
Hope you took away some insight on the importance of physical wellness, and some tips to help you achieve your maximum potential as a dancer! Remember, your body is a valuable tool – take good care of it!
Have other ideas that might help your fellow dancers reach their physical peak? Comment below and share with us!
Put that all body training to good use – by taking a STEEZY Studio class!