As a beginner, everyone has faced that day when after working particularly hard in a dance class and reaching home, your muscles feel like stone. Some dancers may see redness of their skin or pain in any part of the body. You may be taking classes as a hobby after college or work but mostly beginners classes are twice or thrice a week. Your body may become alright after few days of pain but after the next class you again feel like not being able to move. Dancers build stamina and strength gradually but there has to be a way to relax your sore muscles.
Here are few tips for dancers or fitness enthusiasts on how to relax those sore muscles.
The most important thing for any person doing any kind of physical workout is water. Carrying a water bottle, having little sips of water during breaks is the simplest and easiest way to keep your body active and less tired. It’s very important that your body retains proper amount of liquid and oxygen that water provides.
Some food nutritionists also recommend having a small cup of coffee before your workout or dance. It is recommended that coffee should be had half an hour before workout so that there is less chances of muscle soreness.
There are also other healthy drinks one should have after workout to revive your energy. Most of the dance professionals work long hours and always keep some kind of easy snacks in their bags to keep their bodies active. The easiest to carry in bag are nuts - groundnut, almonds, pistachio. Some also carry energy bars that usually have a mix of dark chocolate, peanut butter and nuts.
Other drinks that can really help your muscles relax once you reach home after a tiring dance class are - tomato juice, turmeric milk, chocolate milk, green tea and coconut water. All these drinks restore your energy and repair tired muscles.
MASSAGE AND HOT WATER BATH
Nothing cures a stiff muscle better than a hot water bath. You or your muscles become tense due to tough physical workout and that is why the nerves and muscles reflex makes them stiff to counter the tension. Even though it might feel like a lot of effort, still its very important that before sleeping you should have a hot water bath. It relaxes the tensed muscles and you will feel absolutely fresh the next day.
When in pain, massage is the first thing that comes to anyone’s mind. It is important to always massage very gently on the affected area or ask someone to do it. You can also use, what most dancers use during dance breaks, which is a foam roller. It massages all your stiff muscles gently and you can slowly and steadily feel the tightness reducing in just 5-10 minutes. If you are trying to relax your feet, then you can also use either a tennis ball or a golf ball. The rotational movement of these balls works wonderfully on the tight muscles.
BASIC WARM UP AND STRETCHING
All dance class starts with a good warm up exercises. Good dancers are very disciplined, and they always come half an hour before the time of the dance class. One should make it a habit to reach early to class and do your own warm up. If you are still not sure what kind of warm up exercises you should do, then you should ask your dance teacher. Warming up is one of the basic and the most important thing for dancers. Warming up on your own helps you find your own pace and natural body rhythm before you jump into high cardio warm up with the class. Your body feels more ready to understand each exercise being taught in the class and therefore less chances of getting sore muscles.
If warming up should be done before class, cool down stretches should be done after class. Your dance teacher may or may not be doing stretches for cool down because of time constraints but you should find a space and do some mild, static stretches after class. After class is a perfect time to stretch and breathe easy, let your body understand that the workout is over and find your normal breathing pace again. You become more aware of any sore muscles and if required you can use gentle massage during this time.
R.I.C.E. - REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, ELEVATION
This is a very common recommendation by any physiotherapist and it helps if you are in too much of pain. Simple soreness goes away easily but if the pain persists and you are working out in pain then it’s very important to apply R.I.C.E. Taking an off for 1 class is okay if you feel continuous pain. It is important to understand when to stop because if you do not do anything to relax your tightened muscles then it may sooner or later lead you to injury. Any cramps are easily cured by applying ice on it which immediately eases the pain. Compression has to be applied by wrapping with an elastic bandage to help control any kind of swelling. Another way of keeping pain and swelling in control is to keep the affected area slightly elevated. All these measures help during cramps and sprain.
Dancing is a great physical workout but taking care of your body is equally important. Dancers body is the ultimate tool to express ourselves. Any kind of stiff muscles is just bodies way of letting us know that giving rest is also important. Understanding your body is another way of growing in your dance education because a healthy body means a strong dancer.