Dancer Self-Care Part 2: Your Body is Your Instrument
Updated: Oct 1, 2019
Continuing our dancer self-care series, this time, let’s focus on our bodies. Belly dance is considered lower impact than many other dance forms; however, staying in tune with our bodies and preventing injury are essential to stay active as dancers.
To preserve or pamper your muscles:
Work both sides of your body
When practicing, make sure to try each move on both the right and left side. Working bilaterally can help prevent the imbalanced loads on the body that can make you more vulnerable to injury. It will also help improve control and smoothness of movement that uses both sides.
Take a break
While pushing yourself will help you to continue to progress in your dancing, be mindful not to push past the point of exhaustion. Remember to take a minute and breathe throughout dance class, practice, or a performance. Pay attention to your body’s signals as you dance, like breathlessness, pain, or overheating. This is especially important if you’re making a big change in your exercise regimen. It’s so common in our culture to ignore the body’s need for rest. But when you stop to refuel and recharge, you can be more productive, feel better, and heal faster.
Pay attention to pain
Pain is the body’s signal that something is wrong, and ignoring it can lead to severe injuries. There’s a clear difference between muscle soreness from fatigue and pain from a serious injury, so like the above section, know when it’s time to rest and when it’s time to consult a professional for an injury. If any part of your body becomes extremely painful while dancing, don’t ignore it! Check in with a doctor or professional.
To nourish your body:
Make sure that you drink lots of water during and outside of practice. If you notice that your muscles start to cramp up or if you get headaches during or after your lesson, you may not be getting enough water.
Don’t dance on an empty stomach
Everybody has different needs, so I can’t tell you exactly what to eat to stay healthy, but you should eat something before you dance. Of course, a huge meal before practice, class, or performance is not advisable. But if you dance on a completely empty stomach, your body will not perform the way you want. Food is fuel for your body, so make sure you have enough to keep going.