Regardless if you have been dancing for years, or you are in the middle of your first series of dance classes, prevention of injuries is an important aspect to dance, as it is for any physical activity. When you have an injury, you first and foremost are in pain, and that’s no fun. Additionally, having and injury can mean you favor other muscles groups, and then they get overstressed, and a single injury ends up having a ripple effect through several parts of your body, extending your recovery time. This week’s blog will focus on simple ways to avoid injuries. We are Arthur Murray Dance Studios, and we offer classes in International Ballroom, Latin Dance, American Rhythm, and American Smooth Dance throughout the D.C. Metro area. We accept students for all levels of dance, so regardless of your dance experience, or lack thereof, you can find a class that is perfect for you!
Prepare for Exercise with Warm Ups
Olympians and professional athletes do it, little kids and teen ballerinas do it, and you should too. What all these athletes do is warm up. Warming up your muscles accomplishes several things that help to avoid, or minimize injury. The human body is truly a wonderous thing, as revealed by the effects of warming up on our muscles, blood and metabolism.
Warming up increases the oxygen-rich blood flow to your muscles which in turn has beneficial results.
Increased blood flow to the muscles increases the temperature of the muscles. A warmed up muscle has more elasticity, and so is less likely to be ripped or stained. Additionally, it has more force in its contraction and relaxes with more speed. Increased muscle responsivity increases your agility.
The blood’s journey through the muscles warms up the blood, and warmed blood more easily releases the oxygen molecules in the blood which carry hemoglobin. This means the fuel for the muscles is increased as the muscle and blood are warmed.
As the muscles and blood are warmed, the cooling mechanisms of the body are triggered, and the sweat glands are activated, and the body is ready for action.
One of the muscles that is made ready for action is the heart. Getting your heart warmed up before exercise can be a life-saving move, as sudden demand on the heat can cause problems, such as a heart attack.
Hormonal changes are also triggered during a warm up session. The hormones affected affect metabolic processes including your body releasing carbohydrates and fatty acids that can fuel your workout and help your trim down.
Cross Training as a Way to Avoid Injury and Maximize Performance
Another aspect of preparing for any athletic pursuit is cross training. Cross training is the name for training the entire body and multiple muscle groups even when you will only be using certain muscle groups in the specific exercise you are focusing on.
An example of this is when a runner also builds upper body strength. This examples is perfect for dancing because you may think that working your legs in your dance class is enough, but it’s not.
By working the upper body, including arms, abs, and both upper and lower back you are increasing your overall strength, burning calories and sculpting your body to look great and all these things are great, but when it comes to avoiding injuries, cross training plays an essential role. Let’s say you are a runner who trips in the middle of the 100-yard dash. Upper arm strength is going to give the ability to try to pull out of the fall or at least catch yourself without serious injury.
Just walking over an icy path and slipping can benefit from cross training as you do your best impression of a Monty Python Silly Walk to avoid falling, you will not wrench a shoulder or back muscle because it is healthy and strong. If you are looking for ways to cross train, ask your dance teacher for specifics or do your own research on things such as plyometrics, speed and agility training, weight lifting, and yoga and Pilates.
Increasing overall strength, agility, endurance, and flexibility are the keys to great cross training to avoid injury and optimize your athletic performance.
Don’t forget to cool down too!
You may think that the walk to your car is enough of a cool down, but in reality, you need to give your body a structured cool down. Think of it as a thank you note to you body for the great work out you just put it through. One of the most significant reasons to schedule a cool down session is to avoid the phenomenon of blood pooling in your extremities after your workout. This pooling can result in lightheadedness, nausea, and even fainting. Your risk for these is increased if you have low blood pressure.
Call today to find the dance class that meets your needs, and peaks your interest!