It does not really matter what your sport is. If you are putting your body under the stress of strenuous movement, you have to recover just as any athlete does. The way you choose to refuel and recover is critical. Just as the way you prepare for your activity is critical. Sure, we all make mistakes with our bodies sometimes, but this goes beyond that. The steps you take to prepare for and recover from your activity has a direct impact on the way your body will perform for you in future years. In a sentence, if you take care of your body, it will take care of you.
Your instructor will advise you on the proper way to stretch your muscles to prepare for exertion. Make sure you eat well to fuel your system. Wear the proper clothing, such as wearing tights or dance pants for every performance. Your body must be supported and your body temperature must be regulated. If you are going to wear shorts, make sure they are dance shorts. Tights serve a much higher purpose than covering your legs. If you need tights, make them quality dance tights.
Dancers must learn to move in unison and to interact with the other dancers. While the great performers make it look easy, one wrong move could cause much more damage than a ruined performance. With every practice, the dancer is taken through the exact movements until they become second nature. The instructors teach moves that could easily be compared the highest level of martial arts.
This level of dance and this level of physical exercise makes it important for the dancer to properly refuel and recover.
There comes a point in athletics when the body “hits the wall”. The athlete is maintaining his efforts and suddenly his body stops responding to his mental instructions. His muscles feel heavy and tired.
The body can only store so much glycogen. This is the fuel that keeps you moving. When your physical exertion exceeds the amount of glycogen your body holds, your muscles begin to slow down. Eating properly is important but it is not enough. The fighter dancer needs to keep snacks on hand that are high in carbohydrates, Eating this will refuel the body to get through the activity.
Drink plenty of fresh water and if you have problems knowing what to eat to maintain your physical strength check with a nutritionist.
It is important to understand that the human body needs time to build up a tolerance to more exertion. When more dance is introduced to a routine, it may take 7-10 days for the body to adjust. Understanding that means you will be able to work in a logical way toward your physical goal. While you are in an adjustment phase, be sure you use the time to recover.
No dance days mean no dance days. The muscles are repairing and rebuilding from the continual repeat motion. Instead try yoga, swimming, cycling, or power walking to keep active and energized without the repetitive motion. This is also good for your mental health. No matter how much you love something, too much of it leads to mental burnout. As all professional performers and athletes can attest, we can do way more than we think, but we cannot push ourselves beyond our physical and mental abilities. Your instructors know what they are talking about. When they tell you to rest, do it completely.
You will reach levels of longevity you never imagined if you use the tools given to you. Learn from those who have gone before you. Respect your body and give it what it needs. If you do, your body will serve you well for many beautiful years to come.