During the COVID-19 Pandemic, many dance seasons were cut short and studios were forced to transition to virtual instruction. Many dancers did not have access to equipment for dancing at home such as proper flooring or a safe space without furniture in the way. This limits the dancer’s ability to be able to train at an intensity to maintain previous levels of dancing. For many of you, this went on for several months. And now some things are picking back up safely and it is important to remember these 5 things as you return to dance following this extended break so that you can prevent any injuries.
1. Don’t forget to do a warmup
A proper warmup is always important before any physical activity. Choose a few exercises that work the major muscle groups and that increase your heart rate. Some ideas include bridges, lunges, planks, side steps with resistance, and some jumping jacks to get your heart rate up. You should be able to complete a warmup in 5-10 minutes and feel ready to MOVE YOUR BODY. Save static stretching for after classes during your cooldown.
2. Ease back into things and slowly progress to full activities
Most injuries occur when there is a drastic increase in the level or quantity of activities. It is best to slowly progress your level and quantity of activity over a few weeks to allow your body to adjust to the increase. This progression can look different for everyone. Some things to consider include: progressing the amount of class completed each day such as barre and center work, progressing the number of classes or rehearsals each week, and progressing the level of intensity of each of these.
3. Do some cross-training
If you haven’t been able to do full classes during your break, be sure to incorporate some cross-training to help improve your cardiovascular endurance and strengthen the appropriate muscles to help prevent injuries. Cross-training activities can consist of walking, swimming, cycling, jogging, or the elliptical. You can also work on strength training to improve overall performance and reduce the risk for injury as you return to dance.
4. Fuel your body right (water, food, and sleep)
Prepare yourself for your return by fueling your body correctly. In order to prevent injuries, or if you are still rehabbing an injury, make sure that you drink enough water, eat enough and the right foods, and get good sleep. Drinking enough water and eating the right foods will help replenish your muscles and energy to keep you healthy and strong. And getting good sleep helps your body to recover as you are increasing your activities. All three of these things can help reduce the overall inflammation that occurs in your body.
5. Give yourself some grace
Please don’t forget to give yourself some grace during this process. Change doesn't happen overnight, and you will get there! Put in the work, and change will happen with consistency and perseverance. Enjoy the process!