By Kevin Sateri

If you have ever had an injury, you understand how debilitating it can be on your dancing and physical lifestyle. Stretching and warming up your body before and after can help to avoid tears, muscle strains, and injuries.

It’s important to wake up the body before asking it to dance. Pilates exercises that are weight bearing and have resistance to it are an excellent way to warm the body up, so it’s not just passively stretching, but actively waking the muscles up that you will need to be in touch with. Pliés, ballet barre, core work, and isolating each body part with strength movements are helpful to prepare yourself for larger, more extreme movements. When the body is warm, the muscles can be pushed more and further. Cardio is another great tool to get your heart rate and body temperature up.

Be careful of not overstretching too much before physical activity, especially if you tend to be extremely flexible. You need the muscles to be in control of the movement you are doing, and not let the body get away from you, and damage the joints, tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Stretching after dancing for a longer period is more beneficial than overstretching at the beginning.

Pay special attention after dancing to stretching out your back, glutes, quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, and calves. Also stretch the upper body muscles to avoid tight shoulders and neck issues. Foam rollers, tennis balls, and rolling massage tools are a dancer’s best friend. And if you are in serious rehearsals or training for a show, ice baths at the end of the night and heat packs at the beginning of the day can help prepare your body for healing and warming up. Get a good night’s sleep so your body can relax, rest, and recover.

Don’t underestimate nutrition as well. What you sensibly eat can help your sore muscles recover more smoothly and give you the energy you need to complete your active day without tiring out. When we are tired and not focused, the likelihood of injury increases.

Hope these suggestions are helpful reminders so you can enjoy dancing as a life long passion!

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