Summer intensives are just around the corner and dancers from all over will be attending new and exciting programs. These are a great opportunity to train with guest teachers, try new styles of dance and make new friends. There’s nothing more frustrating than missing out on those opportunities due to injury, so here are some tips to keep you healthy and dancing injury free this summer.
Listen to your body
You know your body best and it’s important to listen to what your body is telling you. Students are often afraid of disclosing discomfort or pain when they're in a new environment and instead choose to dance through it. It’s important to raise any concerns you have with your teachers before it turns into a serious injury. After all, you’re there to dance and don’t want to have to spend the summer watching from the sidelines.
Seek out medical help
Along these same lines, if you're experiencing pain or an injury, make sure you seek out appropriate professional help. Most programs will have someone they can recommend nearby if they don’t have anyone directly on-site. The sooner you can get an issue dealt with, the sooner you’ll be back dancing and enjoying your summer program!
Warm-up and cool down
Making sure you are adequately warmed up for class (and no, stretching doesn’t count as a warm-up!) is important to prepare your body for the day. A warm-up should be dynamic enough to raise your heart rate and body temperature, and increase blood supply to your muscles. Additionally, making sure you cool down properly after class will ensure that your muscles aren’t tightening up and help them recover for the next day of dance.
Studies have shown increased injury rates with decreased hours of sleep at night. Depending on age, dancers need somewhere between 8-11hrs of sleep per night, which can be challenging to get when in a new (and fun!) environment. Developing good sleep hygiene including a consistent bedtime routine, limiting use of screens 1-2hrs before bed and going to bed at a decent hour can help ensure you’re getting the sleep your body needs to recover and perform the next day.
Eat and drink
Summer programs are often much more intense than regular year round training. Making sure you’re eating well-balanced meals and snacks, and staying adequately hydrated (especially in hot climates!) is crucial. Lots of dancers find it hard to eat big meals and then dance immediately after, so snacking throughout the day can be a great option for getting enough fuel during busy dance days.
Summer intensives are BUSY! Scheduling in downtime to rest and relax is important to make sure you don’t burn out before the end of the program. This might mean prioritizing your health and wellness over socializing with friends on occasion, or maybe plan for a chill movie night with friends. Again, you know yourself best so make sure you take the downtime you need to maximize your summer experience.
Hope these tips will keep you dancing healthy and injury free this summer! Tell me, what are your dance plans for the summer?