Combatting Dance Aches and Pains
We all know the drill- you come back to dance after a long summer break, and the first few weeks of class are going great…. until you start to feel that soreness creeping in. Believe it or not, sore muscles aren’t necessarily anything to worry about. Switching up your exercise routine (and we know that dance is exercise!) can definitely cause your muscles to feel more fatigued than normal, but this isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, sore muscles can be a sign of a hard day’s work put in; you cannot expect to grow as a dancer without putting in a bit of work! Still, what can you do to alleviate some of that soreness? Read on to find out:
Understand that soreness is okay. It’s normal to feel a bit sore a day or two after trying something new. Do your best to hang in there, and that soreness should get better over the course of a few weeks, as your body adjusts to your new dance routine.
Make sure you eat protein. Our muscles thrive on protein- that’s why athletes often drink protein shakes before working out. While you should discuss your specific protein needs with your doctor to make sure you are providing your body with the proper fuel, looking for ways to incorporate lean meats, nuts, and beans into your diet is never a bad idea!
Stay hydrated! Your muscles begin to cramp and tighten up when they are deprived of water. It is important to make sure you drive water not only while dancing, but throughout the entire day to make sure you are staying hydrated! While the amount of water you should drink varies by person, a good goal to aim for is 8-10 glasses of water a day!
Warm up! You wouldn’t take off on a marathon without warming up, so why would you dance without warming up? An adequate warmup helps ease the body into its workout, which in turn lessens the risk of injury and muscle soreness. While most of our classes begin with a warmup, it is never a bad idea to get to the studio 5-10 minutes early to do a few warmup stretches and exercises of your own.
Cool down. Dance classes normally end on a “high note,” finishing with demanding jumps, leaps, and turns. Your body warms up over the course of class, but if you leave dance right away, gather your belongings, and head outside right away, your body is quickly going from a state of activity to inactivity, which is somewhat jarring to the muscles. Even worse, temperature changes from the warm studio to the cold outdoor air can put your body into a state of tension. Just as it is important to warm up before dancing, it is important to allow your body some time to cool down as well!
Know when muscle pain is more than soreness. Sometimes, we think we are just feeling sore, when really, there is something bigger going on. Whenever you are feeling an unusual pain in your muscles, or have a pain that doesn’t go away over the course of a few days, make sure you check in with a doctor.
How do you know whether you’re simply feeling sore, or if there is a possibility you are setting yourself up for an injury? Look out for our next post to find out!