We are in the throws of dance concert season which presents exciting opportunities for dancers to perform on stage. For many young dancers, however, it is an exhausting period at the end of a busy school year where their peers are enjoying ‘holidays’, and where their little bodies and brains are pushed to the edge.
I’ve outlined some methods below to assist with recovery between those long days of stage rehearsals and having to back up from day to day for repeated performances, to maximise performance potential and help minimise the risk of injury.
Purpose: reduce muscle soreness, begin the tissue repair process and restore function.
- Stretch following activity – long indulgent stretches, working through all the major muscle groups, holding the stretch for 30 seconds but repeating each 3 to 5 times
- Ice pack – utilise an ice pack at home (or a bag of trusty frozen peas!) on any acute injuries to help reduce pain, swelling, bruising and inflammation
- Soak feet in cold water – to soothe tired feet, especially helpful after dancing en pointe
- Massage – either by making an appointment with a myotherapist or massage therapist, or by working on a foam roller or spikey massage ball at home
- Compression garments – wearing compression leggings or compression socks (on flights or on long car trips home after dancing) will help prevent swelling pooling in the feet and assist with blood circulation
- Postural drainage – resting with the feet elevated up the wall helps with venous return
- Adequate sleep – the National Sleep Foundation recommends a teenager aim for between 8 and 11 hours of sleep per night
- Optimal nutrition – replenish glycogen and protein, water rehydration
Purpose: settle the emotions.
Concert season can be a fatiguing and emotionally challenging time, with heightened stress and expectation. It is crucial in the down time between performances to participate in pleasurable activities in a calm environment.
- Share fun times with family and friends
- Watch a funny movie with an enjoyable, positive message
- Read a book
- Listen to music
- Spend time outdoors for fresh air and vitamin D
- Take the dog for a walk
- Avoid using electronic devices
Purpose: control the thoughts.
Many aspects of dance concerts are out of your control – you cannot control what other performers do on the day, you cannot control the expectations of parents and dance teachers, you cannot control the outcome. So it is important to focus on the things you can control.
- Make a list of the positive things achieved on each day
- Keep a training diary to ensure you stay on track
- Assess short-term goals for the next few weeks
- Reaffirm long-term goals for the months ahead
- Make plans to address any problems or obstacles such as costume repairs or choreography modifications
- See your dance physiotherapist to assess any acute injuries and to develop an ongoing management plan
Research is underway to investigate the optimal recovery regimens for various sports. So my recommendation is to explore the methods outlined above to establish a strategy that works best for you!
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Best of luck for your performances!