No matter the dance style, the dance class is an integral part of every young dancer’s education. It is the time that dancers are pushed to their limits and train hard in order to improve their skills for their upcoming shows. Due to the intensity of course work or seasonal dance programs, injury and illness rates are at an all time high.

Since dancers are so in-tune with their own bodies, it is crucial for dancers or parents of dancers to be aware of injury prevention techniques in order to make the most of their classwork. Listed below are the top 5 tips for injury and illness prevention, which are summed up by the acronym D.A.N.C.E.

D: Dynamic Warm-up
A: Advocate for Your Health
N: Nourish Your Body
C: Cross-Train
E: Energy Conservation
 

  1. Dynamic Warm-Up
    • Dancers often choose static stretching before class in the hopes of warming up the muscles before barre. While static stretching is good to increase flexibility and muscle length, static stretching can be ineffective for creating heat within the muscles which safely prepare the body to move in all planes of movement. This problem is easily solved with an active warm-up before the barre. Watch the video below for an example warm-up!
       
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  3. Advocate for Your Health
    • Dancers are known for being extra aware of their body and how it feels in a variety of strenuous situations. This awareness can play a big role in the prevention of injury, if the dancer is willing to speak up about pain and illness. During intense training, a good rule of thumb to use to protect the body is “If you feel something, say something”. This motto will help dancers and their instructors to adjust training accordingly and take steps to prevent further injury. It is also important for dancers to remember that resting is an option when they are hurt, even if it feels like the wrong choice. Reporting injuries right away and thus receiving the care you need, decreases injury/illness severity, decreases time away from class long term, and can return you to class a stronger, healthier dancer.
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  5. Nourish Your Body
    • Eating well is key to building strong muscles and a strong immune system that will keep a dancer in class and injury free all summer. It is important to get plenty of protein, greens, calcium, and other essential nutrients throughout your training day. Be sure to consult a nutritionist if you are unsure of how to structure a safe and healthy eating plan that is not only effective, but also sustainable.
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  7. Cross-Train
    • Dancers are strong athletes as well as expressive artists and should be treating their bodies as such. Most dancers miss several strength training exercises that will build their bodies safely and reveal the true athlete within. Cross training muscle groups such as the glute and hip musculature, core, and upper body will help a dancer to become a better, stronger dancer, who is less prone to injury. See the videos below to practice some of the exercise that most dancers miss while training.
       


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  9. Energy Conservation
    • Decreasing fatigue outside of the studio is important because an overworked body is at increased risk for injury. Try to limit extra cardio activity such as running, cardio classes, or other strenuous activity. Rest time is just as important as time spent in the studio.
      According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers aged around 14-17 require 8-10 hours of sleep and young adults aged 18-25 years old require 7-9 hours of sleep. As an athlete it is important to reach these sleep goals each night in order to provide your body with adequate time for rest and repair.