When most people think about recovery, they think about injuries. But recovery isn’t just for when you’re injured - it’s a big part of preventing injury too. When you first learn to dance you’ll be doing a lot of motions and exercises your body isn’t used to, and you’ll get sore because of that. Resting and recovering helps you to stay healthy as a dancer, giving your body the time it needs to heal from fatigue and soreness.
If you don’t take time off from your dance and workout routine to rest, it might set your slow your progress as a dancer because if you get to a practice session and you're sore then you won't be able to train as hard compared to if you were fresh and rested. Being sore day in and day out at practice will lead to your body being in a state of over-training in which your muscles are in need of recovery and you’ll probably end up getting hurt if you continue. Resting and recovering lets you take a step back to visualize and internalize what you’ve been working on while your body heals and grows, so you can come back stronger and better than before. However, recovery is a lot more than taking time off, which is why we’ve put together this list.
Drink Lots of water.
Hydration is extremely important for your everyday health, and especially important when it comes to recovery. Dancing and moving uses up a lot of water, which means that as a dancer you’ll have to drink more water than the average person. If you don’t, you could end up at a higher risk for muscle injuries and tears because without water your body won’t be able to repair itself properly. You're muscles are made up of 79% water, so the best thing you could do for them is to be properly hydrated, especially after training. You can also opt for drinks like lemon water, celery water, Himalayan salt water, coconut water, and other natural drinks that have electrolytes in them to help you stay hydrated.
Eat the Right Food.
Eating the right food, and enough of it, helps your body recover more quickly after a hard workout or dance session. Try to eat fresh food as much as possible, sticking to lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates to give you the most energy for the most time. Protein is especially important when it comes to muscle recovery, and you should try to eat it in the morning, within twenty minutes after working out, and even before you go to bed. This doesn’t have to be meat, it could be something small like a glass of chocolate milk, some nuts, or a boiled egg. Protein, along with water, is very essential for muscle recovery so make sure these are staples in your diet when recovering. You could also look into intermittent fasting - it has been shown to help drastically with recovery rates due to the fact that your body can focus on repairing muscle tissue instead of digesting food. Intermittent fasting is a hard discipline to stick to though, so do your research and start off experimenting lightly for a week or two and see how you feel.
Take a Bath.
Heat baths and ice baths are both beneficial for helping you recover quickly, especially when done back to back. After long and arduous activity, and definitely activity that’s new to you, your muscles will be tired and sore. Cold baths help to get blood into the afflicted areas, helping to remove some of the lactic acid and other toxins that might be affecting them. Hot baths help to create a similar process in the body, relaxing tight muscles and improving overall blood flow. Having access to a hot bath and a cold bath is great because you can do a few minutes in the hot and then a few minutes in the cold, your body will let you know how good this is for it because you will feel amazing! You could also try this in the shower.
Foam Roll and Stretch.
Both foam rolling and stretching help to increase blood flow, loosening tight and tired muscles. Stretching helps to lengthen and relax tight muscles. Foam rollers are especially useful for rolling out knots in your muscles, something that happens when your muscles are overly stressed or growing. This in turn helps to make sure that your muscles do not become imbalanced over time. Massages are also helpful for preventing imbalances and injuries by getting out knots and relaxing the body at the same time. In the end, sometimes you just need to rest, sleep is the best way for your body to recover.
Learning to dance is fun, empowering, and can be an amazing medium for self-expression, but it’s hard too. If your body isn’t responding the way you want it to, it might be time to take a few days off so it can rest and recover. In the end, this will not only help to prevent injuries, it’ll make you a better dancer too.