Practice Practice Practice!!!!!
To help improve your stretch follow the Weekly Stretch Chart.
1. Warm-Up. Your muscles are like cold rubber bands. If you don't warm them up correctly, they can pull and snap.
2. Stretch. Don't just stretch your hamstrings (as many do). Stretch your arms, your ankles, your hips, etc. Muscles need gradual behavior before battements, plies, jumps, and leaps.
3. Repetition isn't always good. Repetition of certain moves can actually cause stress fractures, heel spurs, tendinitis, pulled muscles, etc. Know your limits.
4. Choose your exercise wisely. While exercise and physical activity is always recommended, low impact movements are recommended for dancers. High impact exercises, such as running, can wear down ligaments and joints and once again cause stress fractures.
5. Stand up straight. Poor posture is an extremely large cause of back injuries. Engage your abdominals in order to strengthen your core.
6. Distribute weight equally. Try to purchase dance bags and bookbags that can be carried on both shoulders. These are heavy and if you seem to favor one side over the other, it will affect your posture, back pain, knee pain, etc. In addition to this, when standing, make sure weight is equal on both feet- especially in your 5 ballet positions.
7. Exercise body awareness while exercising. When doing sit-ups, keep an imaginary apple under your chin with eye focus to the ceiling and don't rely on your arms to pull up your head. Don't jump into a large amount of movements- instead work yourself up to your goals slowly. Try to have consistent movements instead of speeding up or slowing down.
8. Drink Water. Rehydrating is important after exercise. Your body is about 70 percent water. It's important to keep your muscles and joints hydrated. It also transports oxygen cells which prevents cramps.
9. Healthy Diet. While some athletes may choose to pig out on starches before the big game, starches and carbs can actually weigh you down (in more ways than one) and cause a lethargic feeling. Instead, snack on protein, fruits, and veggies. These will help keep your immune system strong, prevent cramps, and even keep you energetic.
10. Cool down. After vigorous dancing or other physical activity, it is important to slow down the heart rate, lungs, and muscle activity. This helps blood flow (which helps prevent muscle soreness) and prevents dizziness.
1) For sprains and strains- R.I.C.E- Rest as much as possible, Ice 20 minutes on, 20 minutes off, Compress with an ace bandage, Elevate above your heart level.
2) For other muscle aches- 20 minutes of ice, 20 minutes of heat on and off for the first 24-48 hours, an anti-inflammatory such as Ibuprofen every 6 hours for the first 24-48 hours, Compress is possible.
3) Sit out....it's hard to do for many dancers, but if you want to get better, do not be afraid to sit out. This doesn't mean skip dance class. It just means to watch instead of dancing. If it's a mild injury and you have an upcoming performance, use your own judgment. Do what you can, but don't push it.
4) Follow up with a family doctor or orthopedist. Many stress fractures and sprains can go undetected causing further injury if not diagnosed.