Friday, January 20, 2012

Common Things Dancers Should Avoid: Part 1

There's a lot of things that lots of us dancers do without thinking about, but once you learn a little about the human body and how it works, you realize that many of your routines may not be the healthiest thing for you. Of course, it's not just dancers that do such things, normal people do some of these too - but their body isn't necessarily what's determining how they do their job, is it? This is a list of common practices I've noticed that should be avoided:

Not drinking enough water.
The bane of everyone's existence - not drinking water. Dehydration is common in the normal population, and dancers are among the number of athletes for whom water is extremely important. Not drinking enough leads to retention of water (bloating), skin problems, disrupted sleep, and generally non-optimal (and sometimes bad) health.

Not showering right after dancing.
I'm a victim of this one too, and it's understandable - there simply isn't a shower in reach every time we're done sweating. But it's important - you don't want to keep all the toxins you released by sweating on your skin or in your system.

Standing in cold air when sweating.
I'm sure you've heard this one, but it has to do with the previous problem, as well as the shock of cold.

Drinking cold drinks.
Cold shock. Room temperature or slightly cool water is much better than refrigerator-temp water or ice water.

Using ice to nurse injuries/reduce swelling. 
Not always a bad thing - if you've just landed really hard and you have a bump, use the ice. But if you're just sore after a long day, heat will work much better. Ice will freeze your joints, induce stiffness in your muscles, and cause blood to move out of the area. What you want is blood to carry nutrients into the area to help it to heal faster, which is what heat will help. Icy-Hot doesn't count. Treat the problem, not the symptoms.

Snacking on carbs/sugars/prepackaged foods.
Generally unhealthy, but these foods will cause you to crash in a short period of time. If you are going to eat something carb-laden or sugary, eat protein with it. For example, a handful of almonds (protein) and an apple (faster burning sugars) for both an instant kick and long lasting power.

Not eating before practice/class/rehearsal/performance.
As much as you may think you perform horribly and feel sluggish on a full stomach, dancing on an empty one is even worse. Fluctuating blood sugar is unhealthy, and letting your body starve until you don't feel hunger anymore is probably the worst thing you can do to it. You need the nutrients to perform optimally, and if you can't stomach a full meal, eat a good-sized snack - not an energy bar or drink.

Sitting down to rest right after exertion.
Surprisingly, sitting down is bad for you when your heart is pumping. Runners don't immediately sit down after they run, they walk half a lap or so to cool down. You should do the same.

Wearing open-toed shoes. 
It's always a risk to wear flip flops - they're not safe for your feet in any way. They flip and they flop and they will trip you and allow your friends to kick at/stomp on your feet, flip a nail, and cause you to be unable to take pointe for a week (or maybe that's just me). If you have a choice, don't do it!

These are some risks you take as a dancer, and some of them require lifestyle changes. Even though you probably like to keep your dance life and your home life separate, there are times the two lives fuse. It is these times when you need to be extra careful and think twice.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, this is really helpful. I didn't realize I was doing a lot of these things. I'll try being more cautious with my habits now.