Updated: Aug 18
Can you even believe we are talking about summer being over yet!? Ready or not, September is almost here, which means back to school and the start of a new dance season. It's a little bittersweet leaving behind the long days of lounging by the pool, but also so exciting to start fresh. This is the ideal time for all of you dancers to start thinking about staying healthy throughout the upcoming season BEFORE you get injured. Let's prevent problems before they even start, so here are my 5 essential tips every dancer should know before September rolls around...
1. Know how to take an active rest.
There a still a few weeks before school starts when summer dance is winding down and you have a little break coming up. Now, I know this is a very welcome break for you, and you should actually take a break. BUT you also need to know what it means to take an "active rest". I see a lot of injuries right at the start of the school year from dancers who have not danced for a few weeks suddenly going back to dancing 3+ hours a day and the body just doesn't know how to handle it. So how do you prevent this?? For one, keep stretching during your time off. The body losses flexibility quickly, so participate in a daily mobility routine daily to keep those muscles elongated and feeling good. Along the same lines, work on low intensity strength and stabilization exercises. Just as with flexibility, we start loosing strength in a little as 48-72 hours... THATS CRAZY! If you keep up with your own simple routine, you will be better prepared when it comes time to return to the studio. Need ideas on what to do? Check out my instagram account for ideas!
2. Understand the importance of a proper warm up prior to dancing.
This is a biggie for injury prevention. Warm ups help prepare your body for activity by slowly increasing body temperature, heart rate and blood flow in order to better prepare your muscular and nervous systems. You are far more likely to sustain an injury during an intense dance class if you have not adequately prepared your body to handle the increased stress. This doesn't just mean warming up before a studio class, it also means warming up prior to competitions and performances too. You should warm up for around 15 minutes, or at least until you feel yourself breathing heavier and starting to sweat a bit. My best tip: always arrive early so you can do your own warm up, this way you KNOW your body is ready.
3. Know when to heat and when to ice.
I won't go into too much detail here, because I have written an entire blog post on this already. Check it out here to get a good understanding of these essential self care techniques. (*hint: there is even a free heat/ice cheat sheet download you can grab!)
4. Listen to your body.
Pain is your bodies way of telling you something is wrong... Listen to it!!! We all hear the quotes like "no pain, no gain" or "no guts, no glory" and trust me, I get it. You want to be reliable and hard working, but don't sacrifice your health and wellness for that. Don't get caught up in worrying about if you are going to let your teachers or team down, your #1 priority is you! Take care of yourself from the beginning, this way you won't be missing out later on. It is better to take 1 day, or even 1 week off, than pushing through the pain to make an injury worse and having to be out for even longer.
5. Know when to seek help from a professional.
Dance puts a lot of stress on your body, and sometimes, no matter how careful you are, injuries happen. It is not a sign of weakness to admit when you need help. This is what we are here for! Even if you are not 100% sure you need medical guidance, get it! Keep your PT on speed dial and call before it gets out of control. They are the best people to turn to for a quick injury assessment and advice on what to do. I sure hope I am already on all of your speed dials :-)
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