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Health

Health benefits of dancing

Dancing can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. It has a wide range of physical and mental benefits including:

  • improved condition of your heart and lungs
  • increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness
  • increased aerobic fitness
  • improved muscle tone and strength
  • weight management
  • stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis
  • better coordination, agility and flexibility
  • improved balance and spatial awareness
  • increased physical confidence
  • improved mental functioning
  • improved general and psychological wellbeing
  • greater self-confidence and self-esteem
  • better social skills.

 

Read more at:

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/dance-health-benefits

 

Nutrition

Proper Nutrition for Dancers

 

Calorie Needs

To perform your best, dancers need to be well fueled for classes, rehearsals, and performance. A huge challenge for dancers is not ingesting sufficient quantities of food to meet the energy demand of dance. An easy estimate of caloric needs during heavy training for a female is 45-50 calories/kg of body weight (kg= lbs weight / 2.2 example: 100 lbs / 2.2 = 45.45 kg). The caloric needs of a male are higher at 50-55 calories/kg body weight. 

Consuming too few calories will compromise your energy availability and of course with low calories comes low intake of micronutrients that will alter performance, growth, and overall health. 

 

Carbohydrates

To begin with, the basics of energy carbohydrates are a dancer’s best friend. A dancer should have a diet rich in whole grains and complex carbohydrates. Fifty-five to 60 percent of their diet should be carbohydrates. Carbs are the main source of energy for any athlete because they break down into glucose and fuel your muscles. Without glucose, a dancer’s skills and strength would be compromised and the feeling of muscle fatigue would take over.

In addition to meals, a dancer should also ingest carbohydrates before, during and after class or performance. At least 1 hour before any activity begins a dancer should consume a quick energy carbohydrate to start glucose fueling. Sources of carbohydrates include whole grain pasta, rice, beans, whole grain bread, and fresh fruit.​

 

Fats

Fats are also very important. Fat provides structure for all cell membranes, they are the insulating layer around nerves and form the base of many of our hormones. Healthy fats are needed for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and used to fuel our muscles for energy. It is estimated that we need 1.2 grams of fat/kg of body weight. Muscles and adipose (fat) tissue store fats called triglycerides. During exercise, these triglycerides are broken down into fatty acids and produce energy for muscles to contract. These fatty acids are very important during endurance activity such as dancing where you are continuously exercising for over 20 minutes at a time. Healthy fats to include in your diet are nuts, canola oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado.

 

Protein

Protein is extremely important for young dancers and all athletes whether your goal is to build muscle or not. With constant use of muscles during competition and practices, protein is needed for building and repairing used muscles tissue. Protein is also used as an auxiliary fuel when you don’t have enough of the glycogen on board. The estimated need for protein is 1.4 to 1.6 grams of protein/kg of body weight.

Healthy sources of protein include animal meats like chicken, fish, turkey, lean pork or beef. Vegetarian sources of protein are beans, quinoa, rice, and tofu. If you follow the recommendations above you are getting enough in your diet protein powders are not necessary.

 

Micronutrients

Dancers can also forget about obtaining key micronutrients called vitamins and minerals. B vitamins and vitamin C which are water-soluble vitamins and vitamin A, D, K and E which are fat soluble vitamins. Our B vitamins are a part of energy production. They don’t give you energy but are used in the body to make energy from our carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. These vitamins are also part of making red blood cells.

If you compromise your intake of these vitamins, you will compromise your performance over time.  Vitamins A, C, and E play a role in cleaning up damaged muscles that are overstressed and overused. 

Calcium is a mineral that is used for bone growth. The most important years of bone development is in your first 30 years of life which just happens to be the prime years for dancing. Low bone density will result in increased chances of bone stress fractures. Iron is also a highly important nutrient for dancers since it is what our bodies use to carry oxygen to the blood. And of course, oxygen is what we use to help our bodies produce energy.

Vitamins and minerals are found in a variety of foods and if you are eating balanced meals, you will get adequate nutrition and perform at your highest. 

Source: https://www.verywellfit.com/the-importance-of-nutrition-for-dancers-617328

 

Read more Nutrition and Hydration advice for dancers at:

https://www.richardalstondance.com/sites/default/files/downloads/RADC%20Nutrition%20%26%20Hydration%20Advice%20for%20Dancers_0.pdf

 

Increase energy, concentration and focus in dance by proper nutrition before and after Class, Rehearsal and/or Performance:

https://www.actsafe.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Dancer-Nutrition.pdf

 

Safety and security

Injuries risks for dancers and prevention tips

 

Across the whole spectrum of dance there is little doubt that the vast majority of injuries are the result of overuse rather than trauma. These injuries tend to occur at the foot/ankle/ lower leg, low back, and hip. The foot/ankle/lower leg area is vulnerable to a wide range of injuries, including stress fractures, tendon injuries, sprains, and strains. These injuries show up with greater frequency in dancers as they age, so it is extremely important to emphasize what the young dancer can do to prevent future injuries.

Read more at: https://www.sportsmed.org//aossmimis/stop/downloads/Dance.pdf

 

How can dance injuries be prevented?

The majority of overuse injuries and even some traumatic dance injuries can be prevented. Follow these guidelines to reduce your risk of injury:

  • Eat well and stay hydrated before, during and after class.
  • Get enough rest and avoid overtraining.
  • Do cross-training exercises to build strength and endurance in all parts of your body.
  • Always wear proper shoes and attire.
  • Always warm up before training or performances.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle and get to know your body.

 

What should be in the first aid kit for dance injuries?

Your regular first aid kit might already have many of the essentials for handling a medical emergency. However, when it comes to common dance injuries, you may want to include a few additional items, such as:

  • Instant cold pack
  • Prewrap and athletic tape (if qualified providers are available to apply)
  • Elastic bandages (to be used only for compression, not support while dancing)
  • Crutches
  • Topical pain reliever

Read more at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/articles-and-answers/ask-the-expert/common-dance-injuries

 

Nutrition recommendations for preventing and recovering from bone breaks, stress reactions, or stress fractures.

 

With our highly active and high impact lifestyles, dancers can be prone to bone stress.

                           

What can you do ensure your bones are ready for the demands of dance?

Bone is living tissue, and good bone health requires good nutrition. One way to avoid stress fractures/ reactions is to get adequate calories from protein, carbs, and fat. Calorie needs for dancers can vary depending on your size, age, gender, and activity level. (See Dancernutrition.com for information on estimating calorie needs). Going for long periods of time without eating or extreme dieting will compromise bone mineral density and jeopardize your bone strength. Cutting your calories too heavily will not help you become a stronger dancer.

Hormones also play a big role in bone health. Decreased or absent menstruation in females is a warning sign. Please see a health care professional if dietary intake or menstruation is a problem.

 

Vitamins and Minerals for bone health, ages 13 and up 

Calcium: 1300-1500 mg

Vitamin D: 10-15 micrograms (600-800 IU) avoid large doses and get 15 min of sun/day

Vitamin C: 100 mg (avoid large doses)

 Vitamin K: 75-90 micrograms

Phosphorus: 1250 mg/day

Did you know that you can get all these from food sources?

 

Protein: Did you know that too much can actually compromise bone health over time?

Protein needs vary throughout our lifespan. For more information about recommended protein intake read Protein Needs for Dancers from the November Edition. More than enough protein is not necessarily better. Dancers who are adolescents and still growing, as well as engaging in athletic activity several times per week, can estimate protein on the higher end of the range, but shouldn’t over do it. High protein diets can lead to more calcium being lost from the bones – a big problem for dancers who are at higher than average risk for stress fractures. Protein overload = weaker bones. Get your protein from food sources like beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and if necessary, get small amounts from meat or dairy. Protein supplements or powders are not necessary and can even be dangerous.

 

Dietary sources of bone building nutrients:

  • Everyone knows that dairy is a great source of calcium, but there are other plant-based sources of calcium too, like almonds. If your dairy intake is restricted, choose calcium fortified soy milk, almond milk, or orange juice w/ calcium.
  • Greens: spinach, kale, collards, chard
  • All fruits (great sources of vitamin C and phytonutrients)
  • Tuna, eggs, beans
  • Sunflower seeds, almonds
  • Enriched cereals, oatmeal with almond milk

 

Source: https://www.danceinforma.com/2011/12/03/bone-health-for-dancers/