You might think that those who are out of shape or those who are old are the only people who experience cramps and the ones who quickly get tired.
It’s not true, the youngest and fittest dancers can experience muscle pain and fatigue from time to time.
We’ve taken the time to write the causes of muscle soreness, as well as some tips to prevent them from happening. It can help you get through your next performance without worrying about your muscles tiring you out.
Know when to change your routine
Soreness is part of the process of breaking down and rebuilding muscle fibres. However, you should be able to differentiate between cramps and normal pain.
If the pain you’re experiencing while dancing is exceptionally sharp, it would be best to stop moving immediately. Dancing shouldn’t cause severe pain if you’re performing the moves correctly as instructed.
Stop what you’re doing if your muscles start to cramp up. Forget about dancing through the pain. You won’t get better that way. Don’t sacrifice your health for the long-term over completing a single performance, especially if it’s only for training purposes.
To alleviate the pain, gently stretch the aching muscle and simultaneously knead or squeeze it. Avoid dancing right after massaging your muscles. Give your body time to recover and allow blood to flow and circulate in the affected area.
It would better if you have a bottle of cold water or an ice pack on hand since these can help reduce the pain in the affected area. You should continue applying a cold compress on the aching muscles when you arrive home from your training.
If you’re having a hard time performing a move, you can ask your instructor if the move can be modified so that it will align with your body’s capabilities.
Don’t forget to warm up and cool down
It’s in your best interest to arrive early on your dance classes. Having an extra 10-15 minutes before class will give you enough time to pay attention to any soreness or problems you’re having with your body. You may also use this to perform a very light warm-up to jumpstart your body.
You should also take note of the weather when warming up. If the weather is cold, wear a warm jacket or add another layer of clothing to keep your muscles warm. Warmed up muscles are more flexible and are less prone to experiencing joint pains and injuries.
Warm-ups are not meant to stretch your muscles to the fullest. The purpose of warming up your body is to increase the blood flow to your muscles and prepare your tendons, bones, and ligaments before you dance.
Research proves that even the simple movements that are meant to stretch your muscles are enough to prepare them for strenuous activities. Think of warm-ups as some sort of ritual to shift your mind and body from being an ordinary person into a dancer full of energy.
After the dance class, give your body time to cool down from the intense exercises you just did. Stretch your muscles and take a short walk before going home. Don’t forget to rehydrate and replenish the fluids you lost during the exercise.
If you have aching muscles, you may want to take a cold shower and remember the R.I.C.E process which we will be discussing next.
The RICE method is meant to minimise muscle discomfort and help hasten the recovery of the strained muscles.
Resting prevents you from further straining your muscles and worsening your condition.
Putting ice on the strained area helps reduce the pain and muscle inflammation. Putting ice over the affected area for 15 minutes and then removing the ice pack for 15 minutes is the recommended rotation by doctors.
Compression, on the other hand, helps reduce the swelling by having a bandage wrapped around the soring muscle. Ensure that the dressing is not wrapped too tight that it prevents blood from adequately circulating.
Elevation can also help reduce inflammation in the affected muscles. By positioning the affected area higher than your whole body, you’re helping your body move the waste products away from the inflamed muscle tissue.
Know the limitations of your body
Some people feel good and take pride in finishing training that takes hours to complete. There’s nothing wrong with setting this as your goal.
However, it’s better if you don’t force yourself to do the exercise if your body can’t handle it yet. As long as you get the concept and you know how to execute it correctly, you can slowly train your body to perform the drill.
For the time being, you can just write down important notes during class and continue your training at home. You may think that you’re wasting precious time only by observing and not executing the routine itself. However, as long as you take note of the critical points and carefully follow the demonstration of your instructor, you can replicate the exercise when your body is ready for the challenge. You can even use your notes for future reference when you’re looking for ways to improve your performance and choreography.
Use pain relieversIbuprofen has been proven to be one of the best pain relievers available on the market. Taking in ibuprofen before starting an intense workout can be a useful preventive measure for muscle pains. Some doctors even add ingesting Ibuprofen to the RICE method, making it HIRICE ‘ Hydrate-Ibuprofen-Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation.
However, you shouldn’t depend too much on this drug and take it every time you will dance. Use this only as a last resort. If drinking any over-the-counter medication is not your thing, you can look at our blog post where we talk about the 5 natural remedies for dancers with sore muscles.