Updated: Aug 5, 2020
The start of summer can only mean one thing- it’s time for dance intensives! Things are a little different this year because of COVID, but whether you are back in the studio or doing them virtually, there are a few key things you should know as you prepare.
1. Understand that flexibility, endurance and strength will not be what is was pre-COVID
As you gradually make the transition from virtual classes to being back in the studio, you need to remember that your body may not be used to dancing the same as before. It’s OK to push yourself, but keep in mind that it may take some time to be back dancing at the level you were before. Unfortunately, as the name implies, intensives ARE intense and there is an increased chance of injury from overuse and fatigue. If your intensives are the first time you are stepping foot in the studio, give yourself grace!
2. Listen to your body and speak up if there is a problem
Please, please do not be afraid to tell someone if you are in pain. It may mean the difference between you resting a day or 2, versus much longer if it develops into a full-blown injury. Pain does not always mean you need to stop dancing, you just may need to make a few modifications. Talk to your instructor, parent, Physical Therapist or any other dance medicine specialist. We are here to help KEEP you dancing, not prevent you from it!
3. Learn the difference between good and bad pain
"No pain, No gain" isn't always the best plan of attack. Pain is your body’s way of alerting you there is a problem. Don’t ignore that! Bad pain may feel sharp, intense (>4/10), prevent you from doing certain things, and may be accompanied by inflammation. Good pain is lower on the pain scale (<4/10), improves with movement, allows you to still do everything, and feels more like muscle soreness from a good workout. Fully anticipate good pain during an intensive- all that dancing can absolutely make you sore! The next few tips will help you manage your good pain…
4. Do a proper warm up and cool down
I can’t stress this one enough! Dancers are notorious for going into the studio cold, jumping into a straddle, and hanging out there as a “warm up.” I can promise you, this is the perfect way to get hurt. Read this blog for all the details on how to warm up properly.
5. Know when to heat vs. ice
Heat and ice are a great way to practice self-care, but knowing how and when to use them is important. Get my free HEAT VS. ICE GUIDE for a quick reference to keep in your dance bag or hang in the studio.
6. Don’t sacrifice technique
As you fatigue, the first thing to suffer is usually technique, which also means injury risk goes up. DON’T compromise on your technique just to prove yourself. If that means you need to lower your developes or lessen your turn out, it’s ok! Remember tip #1- you are probably not in the same shape as when you last danced in a studio. It’s 100% OK to push yourself, but when you notice technique suffering, it’s time to pump the breaks so you don’t get hurt.
7. Stay hydrated and eat well
This one goes without saying, but everyone needs the gentle reminder. Your scheduled are jam packed, and it can be easy to forget. Since this is not my specialty, I am going to direct you to someone who can definitely help you if you need it: To The Pointe Nutrition.
8. Take a break from your strength training, but don’t forget to start back up after
This is your free pass to stop your conditioning and PT exercises for the time being. Strength training during a time that’s already intense can increase your risk of injury, so it’s ok to push pause for a bit. Just make sure you get back into it once you have had the time to rest.
9. When it’s over, take a few days off
Your body will likely need to recover after the week, so allow yourself time to rest. Take a few days to rest from dancing and practice some self-care, however that may look for you. It may mean walking, hitting the pool, reading or doing some yoga. You worked hard and deserve a break!
10. Check in with your PT
This one can be done pre, post or during intensives. It gives you the opportunity to have a movement assessment, check in on any injuries, and ask questions. Your PT may give you ideas for recovery, preventative exercises and help with pain management.
Looking for support to help you through intensives? Click here to schedule your in-person or virtual appointments!