Your personal strength, practicing, and personal flexibility are not the only key factors that make a dancer. Despite your age, injuries, or other inevitable factors, dancers and other athletes usually aspire to maintain peak performance levels for several years. Rest and Recovery (RNR: Rest and Recuperation) should be prioritized before and after classes or performances. You have spent the week working on your technique in classes and upcoming performances but what do you do after it has been done?
Dancing through your entire class or performance is never an easy task on your body or mental state. You go from the ground, back to being in the air, we do a couple of turns all while using your memory and twisting and moving your body into unimaginable positions. Your body goes into overtime at least 5 days a week, 7 for those more dedicated dancers, all to keep us on beat and in tip top strength to get you through choreography.
Take the time to give your body the appreciation it needs by taking the time to recover in preparation for your next rehearsal or class!
We have listed 10 simple ways you can help your body rest and recover after each dance class or performance and for when you feel your body needs and little extra.
Try a few of these and see how your body thanks you!
- Cool yourself down.
After hours of bending, jumping, twisting, and turning, you want to make sure you give your muscles a proper cool-down. Just like you warm up your bodies before rehearsal and class. A small but affective cool down for your body, like easy stretches should become a part of your post-practice routine. These cool down stretches should be gentle to your body. Your muscles may have become tense or exhausted during class, a quick cool-down routine lets them know it’s time to relax.
These easy stretches can include but not limited to;
- Side stretching
- Neck rolls
- Butterfly stretch
- Forward stretch
- Shoulder stretch
- Ankle rolls
You can also roll out your body with a foam roller or a massage ball.
It’s no secret that your body needs hydration to survive and flourish. Make sure to maintain an adequate level of fluid intake before, during, and after practice. As you sweat through your dance class, you start to lose electrolytes and may find yourself super thirsty. A great way to add flavor to your water is by slicing up cucumbers, limes, kiwis, or other fruits by letting them soak into your water. By the time class ends, your water will have morphed into a naturally sweet and refreshing drink infused with nutrients! ( Please read Hydration Blog for more info )
- Snack smartly.
Try to wait about an hour after class to eat a full meal. You probably worked up quite an appetite but to remain from feeling heavily sluggish or more tired. try eating a light and healthy snack, such as a bananas or granola. These light snacks should be something that is a great source of good nutrients and vitamins but light enough to satisfy your hunger after a practice and before a big meal.
- Take a mental break.
Aside from the physical rest that your body deserves, you also will benefit from giving yourself a mental break. While on the drive home try listening to a soothing playlist or if you’re coming from high energy and volume environment, counter act that with sitting in silence and just in the moment. Easing your mind after practice prevents stimulation overload and allows you to absorb the positive mental benefits that result from a good workout or practice.
- Take a warm bath.
For extra muscle-relaxing benefits, add a small amount of Epsom salt to your bathwater. If you don’t have a bathtub or don’t have time for a full soak, consider relaxing in a warm shower. After all that physical impact, your feet and body could use a break. Make sure you take a moment to roll and massage your muscles and end with your legs elevated.
- Elevate your legs.
As dancers, a lot of your routine consists of non-stop movement of your legs, feet, and hips. After practice, it can be helpful to elevate your legs, allowing them to ease some of the physical stress they’ve experienced, while also improving circulation and helping you relax. You can use a pillow to prop your legs up or try laying on your back with your legs straight up against a wall. Taking the weight off of your legs and feet will give them a much-needed break.
7. Foam Rolling.
Studies have shown that rolling out your muscles does decrease tissue tension and can improve your range of movement, increasing your speed and flexibility. While there are many benefits to rolling out your muscles prior to or following a workout, studies have also shown that foam rolling can be used without affecting muscle performance, and strength and may just be used as a cheaper method of soft tissue massage.
- Deep belly breathing.
An easy way to wind down either before bed or while taking a mental break is deep belly breathing. This is a breathing technique where you slowly inhale, letting the oxygen fill your stomach. Next, slowly exhale, pushing the air so far out that your stomach feels like it’s sinking into your back. You can place your hands on your stomach to help you feel more in tune with your breathing. Repeat this a few times. This process helps you fully stretch your lungs and will help relax your muscles and regulate blood flow, which is great for recuperating after practice. Deep-belly breathing is a great way to calm your nerves, almost as if you are releasing tension and stress with your breath.
- 9. Sleep
After rigorous practice, a good night’s sleep encourages the balance and refueling that your body needs before taking on another day. Other than giving your muscles some much-needed downtime, sleep also resets your mentality, emotionally and physically. When you sleep, your body undergoes a series of changes that enable the rest that is vital to your overall health. Sleep allows the brain and body to slow down and engage in processes of recovery, promoting better physical and mental performance the next day and over the long term.
What happens when you don’t sleep is that these fundamental processes are short-circuited, affecting thinking, concentration, energy levels, and mood. As a result, getting the sleep you need — seven to nine hours for adults and even more for children and teens — is crucial. That means putting away your phone, turning off the TV, and sleeping in a cool, dark, and comfortable space.
*Tip*Diffusing lavender oil and sipping chamomile tea are easy ways to induce relaxation before bed.
- Take a Day Off
You go to all your scheduled dance classes and rehearsal, and you live a busy schedule. You need to find a day to just BE and relax. Science tells us that it is super important to take at least one full day off from your dancing and training routine each week. That’s because doing so allows your mind and body to recover. You see, training hard causes various physiological changes within your muscles. Pick one or two days a week to rest from all strenuous activities that will help you stay in tune with your body’s needs and ensure you won’t overdo it!