How to stay healthy when training and dancing: Adapted from an HSS Facebook tip series
For some young dancers, summer means intensive dance programs. Here are a few tips from Dr. Elizabeth Manejias, physiatrist and acupuncturist at HSS’s Integrative Care Center, that will help keep you injury-free during your increased training schedule.
- Rest. Get plenty of sleep. Studies have shown that fatigue is an important risk factor to developing an injury. Poor concentration from fatigue or stress may interfere with your ability to focus on proper technique and alignment, predisposing you to developing an injury.
- Feedback. Listen to your body. Ignoring an injury may unnecessarily cause your injury to progress. It is better to address an ache early on, as this is the first sign that something in your body is awry. Prevention is key. Maintaining strength, flexibility, and aerobic endurance is essential. Dance class alone may not sufficiently increase strength and elasticity. Remember, identifying an injury early on translates into decreased time away from dance and less time needed to recover.
- Fuel. Eat a well-rounded, nutritious diet and stay hydrated throughout the day. Making sure you are getting the recommended essential nutrients allows your body to heal. Adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D are required to maintain healthy bones, and eating an anti-inflammatory diet high in fruits, vegetables, and omega 3 fatty acids can help you manage your pain naturally. Remember that energy drinks and stimulants such as caffeine are no substitute for a healthy snack.
- Adaptation. Resize your shoes every couple of years. Dancing in tight-fitted shoes may cause undue stress on your feet and predispose you to developing injuries. Do not forget to increase your shoe size as your feet grow, both in width and length.
- Awareness. Respect your body’s natural limitations. Every dancer’s body is unique, and many injuries can occur when trying to attain an ideal dancer’s physique. This is especially true of turnout required for many forms of dance. Forcing your turnout at the knees, foot, or ankle can cause injury in these areas. Try to appreciate the value of your uniqueness and work within your physical limitations. Remember that your limitations may change as you get older. Ask your teacher, physical therapist, or doctor to screen for improper turnout technique.
Dr. Manejias provides care to many professional dancers and dance students in NYC.
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