5 Tips For A Long Dance Career
Recently I have started to realise that I am not getting any younger and I am for sure starting to feel it now in my dance world. I am 23 years old and I know to most ‘normal’ people that is still very young, and yes it is. But I am 4 years going into my career and ‘apparently’ dancers don’t have very long careers as it is. But I don’t think that is aways true. I have few friends that are in their late 30’s/ 40’s still performing… How awesome is that? But, I do have to say my body isn’t quite like a 16 year olds any more. I use to happily jump into splits, kick my face, take huge leaps into second without warming up… Yeah that doesn’t happen any more. I mean, I could for sure but oh do my muscles feel that, it just won’t be as comfortable haha.
I thought in this blog I would share with you some tips I have been trying or have been researching to help my body and muscles become stronger and healthier as I get older. Of course everyone is different and by the time you get to my age you more or less know what your body needs or how you can help your muscles, but I am still learning everyday new ways to help improve to keep my flexibility, less injuries and years of pain free dancing and hopefully what can help me to have a longer career.
- Know Your Stretching
Static stretching is not the one before any activity this not just dance. It will decrease power, strength, speed agility and useful range of motion. All 5 of these things are very important to our bodies especially at the start of class or rehearsals, this is what we need the most. If you are sat in a stretch or a position and just holding it, including standing with your leg up on the barre it isn’t a good idea when you are about to start jumping and moving around quickly.
Instead, for a good sensible warm up dynamic stretches are better for the muscles. For example this includes;
– Leg brushes
– arm circles
– Trunk rotations
– Lunges across the floor
This is a much better and more important way of warming up the muscles correctly. Static stretches are ideally better for the end of class or rehearsals. This way your body is fully warm, and your muscles won’t need to have all the power and energy that they would normally during class or rehearsals. This also being said, I found that for me personally and for the children when I teach this method was great and a huge improvement was made during class and also their flexibility.
- Walking Normal
Most of the time it is so common for dancers to walk from their hips turned out and their feet turned out without even realising. This would always happen to me when I was a kid… Actually it still happens to this day. I guess it does look funny! But by doing this we are putting extra stress on our feet and ankles. Technically walking like a ‘duck’ as some people would call it, you are rolling over your arches and putting stress on your posterior tibial and flexor hallucis tendon. Also by doing this you can put too much stress on the knee, which can effect the stability of the patella. Also, when holding onto the barre ALWAYS make sure you are holding the barre slightly in front of you, otherwise your elbow will be behind the body which will then destabilise the shoulder blade. This is very unstable position for the arms and can cause a lot of damage to the shoulder.
- Turn out & Bones
It is incredibly important that you do not force your turn out. This can increase strain on the sacroiliac joint and torque on the kneecap… which can lead to patella and anterior knee pain. It is said that the main cause of a dancer when training can plant and screw their feet in fifth position, i am sure I was a culprit once too… this can hugely effect the achilles of a dancer’s foot. It can build deep external rotational strength and then improve the flexibility of the ligaments. Remember not all great professional dancers have 180-degree turnout.
But you can help improve the flexibility of your turn out safely with great open hip stretches.
- Cooling Off
It is so important to always cool off after class, rehearsals and especially after a performance. You need to release the tension from your muscles and let them relax after so much pressure on them. Doing a cool down doesn’t have to be much at all but it is important to let the tension out of the muscles you mostly have been working on. A cool down can simply be very slow stretches, holding a position and or just breathing through your muscles and lengthening.
- Treat Your Body
This has to be my favourite by far hehe… I have always found that taking hot baths, or spas really do help to relax your muscles and body and this is so important. Also, if you are in full time shows, at least once a month go and get a deep tissue or a bamboo and hot stone massage, yes it can be not so pleasant as your muscle can be very tight and in knots but it is for sure the best treatment I could give my body. I found this helped me a lot, and it also helped to make me more flexible because my muscles were more relaxed than normal it was easier for me to stretch them out. I find that if any in the middle of my body has tension then it is going to effect the rest of my muscles all over my body. So having more relaxed muscles for sure helps to give you more, if not better flexibility.
This is just a few tips that I find as I am getting older is helping me to maintain my normal performance without having to hold back at all. What do you think? I would love to hear from you if these are starting to help you or if you have anything to share that can help me and my readers, I love hearing from you guys and I love to learn new things that can help me be better. So get in touch!
Live, Love and Keep Dancing.
Love Rosie. X