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General, How To...

How to Stay Healthy During the Dance Season

Dancers must maintain good health throughout the dance season. It is very easy for a dancer to get worn out by the end of the year, and possibly get an injury that prevents them from performing. The following tips will help to ensure that dancers get the most out of their season.

1.  Do not ignore pain.

As soon as dancers feel pain, especially in their joints, they should not ignore it. It is important to determine what is causing the pain, whether it is in the ankles after landing jumps, in the back after stretching, or another possibility. If the pain is severe, or is a sensation that has never been felt before, dancers should consult their doctors as soon as possible.

2.  Cool down to reverse muscle strain.

Taking time to “cool down” after class or at the end of the day is also important. Dancers should make time to stretch and cool down while their muscles are still warm from dancing. This will put balance back into the body, and prevent muscle injury from overuse.

3.  Add aerobic exercise to the schedule.

While dancing may be considered an aerobic activity, it does not usually raise the heart rate as much as another aerobic activity would. Much of dance class or performance involves starts and stops, and repetition of movements. Dancers should try to add another aerobic activity into their routine, in order to build stamina for the season.

Good choices for dancers are swimming, cross-training, kayaking, etc. Dancers should try to stay away from jogging or running, at least as a daily activity, because this puts stress on knees and hips which is similar to the stress endured in a dance class. This may exacerbate future joint injuries if used as a daily exercise.

4.  Have an outlet to reduce stress.

The dance season can build up stress in a dancer’s body, so it is important to have an outlet to relieve stress. Stress can be reduced through yoga or stretching, but it is also a good idea to have another hobby outside of the dance studio. Playing an instrument can be a good stress-reliever, or painting, knitting, or other creative hobbies. Scheduling time to indulge in creative works outside of dance can relieve stress and prevent injuries caused by muscle tension.

Another good outlet is having someone available to discuss issues that are causing stress. Many dancers are perfectionists, and classes or performances can be a source of frustration. Having someone they trust to talk to, whether it is a fellow dancer, family member, or trusted friend, can help to relieve stress. Sometimes just knowing that the person is available to talk to is a stress reliever.

Every day, dancers must stretch their bodies in new ways. It is important to remember to cool down, beware of pain, vary exercise routines, and have outlets to relieve stress. All of these things will help dancers to avoid injury and stay healthy throughout the season.

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About Terry

Terry Finch is a dance teacher and choreographer with an extensive training and teaching background that spans 26 years. Terry has held a variety of teaching positions, from assisting instructors at her dance studio, to teaching at summer performing arts camp, and leading college level master classes. She is currently in her fourth year as a dance teacher at a studio in central Pennsylvania.

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