Welcome back! In our last blog, we talked about the importance of integrating wellness into your dance lessons and regimen. More specifically, we addressed the importance of bone health, and how to attain strong bones for dancing. With that said, we are now going to address muscle strength, and taking care of that aspect of your body.
Caring for your muscles can be simple, but if you are dancing for multiple hours of the day, it can actually get quite complicated. Muscle strength is one of the most important aspects of dance. Strong muscles have better capabilities, and are much more agile that weak muscles. Gaining and keeping strength in your muscles will help your progression with dance immensely. But how?
How does one gain proper muscle strength for dancing?
As every aspect of gaining strength and good health goes, the most important aspect of building strength is your diet. A good diet that incorporates vitamins and minerals is definitely healthy and will aid in building muscle of course, but an intake of protein is going to help the most. You should include protein in your breakfast and dinner, to help give your body the fuel it needs to be functional, and strong.
Another aspect of good muscle health is stretching. It’s important to stretch yes, but it’s also important that you’re doing the right stretches at the right time.
A good stretch is done after a warm up. Whatever your warm up may be, it’s important to stretch your muscles in preparation for activity. Not doing so can result in injury, as your muscles don’t function properly when they’re cold.
One of the most popular stretches you’ll find in a dance studio is the ankle-on-bar stretch. While it may feel great, it ends up putting too much on the achilles tendon, an important muscle in dance. Continuing to do this stretch can result in tendonitis of the achilles, making dancing much more difficult and painful.
It’s also important to make sure that the stretching you’re doing before your dance classes are light. Over stretching can also lead to injury. The proper amount of time to stretch each muscle is 30 seconds, or three long breaths per muscle.
With stretching and a healthy diet, your muscles will certainly be happy and healthy but there’s a bit more that you could be doing. When you’re done with a dance lesson, later on you might find that you’re very sore and tight. Post dance class stretching is vital, but there are other things you could be doing to help your muscles cope with soreness. One of those things is an ice bath.
If you treat your dance lessons like a vigorous workout like we do, then it’s only natural for your muscles to be tired and sore afterwards. A great way to keep the muscle soreness from persisting, is by taking an ice bath. If you have the access to an ice bath in an athletic facility, it’s highly recommended.
Taking care of your body when you’re a dancer is of the utmost importance. Talk to your dance instructor about the many other tips they have for keeping your dancer’s body in the best shape possible.