Rest & Recovery for dancers

Rest and active recovery allows the body time to repair and strengthen itself in between workouts or lengthy days of dancing and performances. It also allows the dancer to recover, both physically and psychologically, allows for improved performance, permits time for our body to heal itself in preparation for the next training load, and decreases the risk of potential injury. Recovery is the single most important part of any training or exercise program.There are two types of rest. Short term recovery (active recovery) and long term (passive). Today we are going to be talking about active recovery and the top things you can do today to improve yours.

What is active recovery?

Active recovery is the hours immediately post intense exercise. Or conducted on days off intense training when passive rest is not necessary. This may include your cool down phase including stretching, mobility work, foam rolling and massage. It also includes consuming the right food and drink to replenish energy stores and fluids while optimising protein synthesis. During active recovery  the body works to repair soft tissue (muscles, tendons, and ligaments). Active recovery also helps with the removal of chemicals that build up as a result of cell activity during exercise. 

Top 6 tips to help improve your recovery:

  • 1. Sleep. Try to aim for 8 hours of sleep per night. 
  • 2. No alcohol consumption post training although if you must then limiting your intake to 2 drinks for males and 1 drink for females has been shown not to have a large influence on recovery
  • 3. Hydrate. Make sure you drink at least 2L of water per day, possibly more, dependent on the amount of exercise undertaken. This should be spread out throughout the day, not at one time. Our bodies can only absorb a certain amount of water at one time.
  • 4. Plan your meals in advance and get advice on appropriate nutritional intake required for your exercise or training program. Head to our TLB team page to contact one of our incredible dieticians if you require help with a diet plan or nutritional guidance.
  • 5. Complete both a warm up session before exercise and cool down after any class, training or performance. Having an understanding of applied function science allows for the implementation of exercises specific to the training. These programs will be individualised tasks that will set you up for the exercise at hand, turning on the muscles needed, gaining the mobility required and begin to get the cardiovascular system pumping and building in intensity. The cool down will be similar to the warm up but at a lesser intensity and often involve some walking or light cardio and active stretching to allow the body the best chance to recover. These programs should concentrate on addressing movement in all three planes of motion. Self-myofascial release may be incorporated into both programs. Warming up has been shown to decrease Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness (DOMS) with no loss of muscle function. Dynamic stretching has been shown to positively influence power, speed, agility, endurance, flexibility, and strength performance when used as a warm-up. The cool down also brings fresh blood into areas to help with lactic acid removal, while bringing your heart rate down to resting rate safely. No static stretching pre exercise as it has been shown to reduce muscle strength, power and explosiveness.
  • 6. Foam rolling / Self myofascial release. Can be used pre and post exercise to help with recovery with no effect on performance. Improvement with DOMS, joint range of motion and possibly flexibility can be seen. Self-myofascial release (SMFR; one example being the use of a foam roller) has found have a range of valuable effects, including:Increased joint ROM (range of motion) short term without impeding athletic performance. SMFR therefore seems suitable for use by athletes or the general population prior to exercise, training sessions or competition. SMFR can alleviate Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) and may therefore be suitable for use by athletes or the general population for enhancing recovery from exercise. There is some limited evidence that SMFR may lead to improved arterial function, improved vascular endothelial function, and increased parasympathetic nervous system activity, which may also be useful in recovery. Finally, there is some evidence that long-term SMFR may lead to improved flexibility, however not all studies supported this. 

Train Like a Ballerina is ballet-inspired workouts for all levels and ages. Correct active recovery is a must for every body.

For further questions for the TLB team of health professionals contact hello@trainlikeaballerina.com.