4.30 pm – Harkness Center Dance Injury Prevention Workshop @ Peridance
As both a dancer and a person who is responsible for guiding others towards wellness through fitness and dance, I found the Harkness Injury Prevention workshop especially useful. I will certainly bring tips I learned from this seminar back to my classes. I also now have better tools to examine my own risk for injury and burnout and to catch early warning signs. Here’s a list of just a few of the great tidbits I picked up:
→ 90% of dance injuries are caused by fatigue. This is a mind blowing fact, when I consider that, in order to make a living, many of my Zumba and fitness colleagues teach upwards of 20 classes a week. Last summer, I myself taught 16 high cardio Zumba classes a week all over New York City. Between prep time, travel time and teaching, fatigue was on high. Luckily, I came out the other side largely unscathed, but ice packs and tiger balm were my daily companions.
→ Clinical burnout is real. Some of the symptoms are: loss of interest in dance, depression, and change in appetite.
→ Imagery can be a powerful tool to heal. Being in class, observing and marking the steps, can accelerate the healing process. Meditation and positive self talk are good tools as well.
→ Proper nutrition is vital. Dancers tend to load up on proteins and not eat enough calories. The dancer needs about 2,000 calories to make it through a day including a dance class and/or rehearsal. Many dancers only consume about 1200 calories and are suffering, probably often unknowingly, from disordered eating – not eating enough calories to support daily activities. This can have adverse effects on bone density and organ function.
→ The 4 Cs of a malnourished dancers diet often include reliance on: coffee, cigarettes, diet coke, and chocolate. Caffeine is a natural diuretic which is dehydrating and also leeches calcium from the bone. Sugars promote inflammation and things like yeast infection and joint pain. Cigarettes decrease oxygen transfer in the body by 15% and will make you more tired in class. It’s better to eat more small meals throughout the day of actual food, preferably non-processed.
→ During the first 30 seconds of a class or rehearsal, the body will use carbs for energy. If carbs are unavailable, after 15 minutes, it will switch to burning fats for energy, and then protein. If my diet consist of mostly protein this will go towards energy for my body during workouts or classes, instead of replenishing and repairing muscle. My muscles may not be getting the opportunity to repair as they should because of this, which can make me more susceptible to injury.
→ Stretching should never be skipped as it raises the body temperature and gets it ready for more intense movement. There are three kinds of stretching that, when used at the right times, can aid the body in gaining flexibility: dynamic (ex: walking lunges), static (ex: holding a pose to stretch a particular muscle group), and ballistic (ex: anything involving bouncing and rebounding). Cooling down is equally important to bring the blood back to the heart. Doing static stretches during this time when muscles are really warm and pliable can boost flexibility.
→ Dancers tend to have flexibility and muscular endurance, but not cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength. To improve this, dancers should go to the gym and workout or run, using the progressive overload technique and cross training, like other athletes, to get stronger. Particular emphasis should be placed on strengthening the transverse abdominal muscles or the ‘core.’