Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prevent Ballet and Dance Injuries in Your Nutcracker Season

Learning how to minimize the chance of dance injuries is an acquired skill. Warming up, having healthy snacks in your dance bag, and perhaps having an extra pair of pointe shoes ready to wear, will help you avoid ballet injuries.

Rehearsal schedules intensify as the Nutcracker season approaches. Everyone wants to do their best.

Muscle aches and pains after classes and rehearsals should not be ignored. Soaking sore and exhausted muscles in epsom salt baths, ( a form of magnesium) elevating your legs while sitting, and using a pinkie ball to rid your muscles of tension is exactly what your muscles deserve.

Knee injuries, sprained ankles and shin splints all result from inaccurate technique, that do not necessarily show up until dance schedules intensify. A little fatigue, emotional distractions, anxiety, poor sleep or poor diet all contribute to that moment of error or mis-timing when an accident happens.

Fresh foods are necessary to keep your strength up. Sugar weakens muscles and also contributes to inflammation. Do your best to eat well. Magnesium is a nutrient that helps relax muscles and can lead to better sleep. Green vegetables and salad foods are full of trace minerals that help carry lactic acids and other cellular wastes out of tired muscles. Lean proteins, and whole grain carbohydrates will put more nutritional support in your diet.

Dance medicine specialist and author Deborah Vogel writes:

"Four Warning Signs of an Injury

* Pain that gets progressively worse during class, rehearsal, work out, etc.
* Pain that comes after your class, rehearsal, or work out, and comes back the next day after less movement is done.
* Pain that appears when executing certain movements (e.g. during arabesque or landing a jump).
* No real sense of "pain" but a definite restriction of movement."

Pay attention to your body's signals. Ice tired and tense muscles even if they don't hurt. Take some deep breaths when you sit down to relax, or when you go to bed. Use a pinky ball to ease out tension, then do some very gentle stretching afterwards. Have a real day of rest, and catch up with non-dance activities.

Even when you are a recreational dance student, you get the most out of it if you act like pro. Ask your family graciously for extra help or rest time that you need, and let them know how much you appreciate their support.

This way you will really get to enjoy your experience of performing in ballet shoes and pointe shoes.

Read more about injury prevention, strength for pointe work, and muscle care at The Ballet Store.

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