Rest is an essential part to be a successful athlete. You need to take rest days so that your body can reset, and you can stay motivated. It is healthy to let your body recover from a jam-packed dance schedule so that you can perform at your highest level.
Recovery allows your body to replenish energy stores and repair tissue damage. Exercise will cause muscle tissue breakdown in the process of building muscle. Without enough time to repair, the body will continue to break down. Ideally you would not step foot into a dance studio for one to two days a week. Getting eight to ten hours of uninterrupted sleep is also crucial.
Often, for competitive dancers, it is not possible to take a day or two off a week from the dance studio. This just means that when you do finally get time to rest, it is your responsibility to ensure you rest and recover properly. Another important factor to consider after an intense dance session or performance is to EAT, whether you feel starving or not hungry at all, your body needs to be replenished with nutrients.
Icing your feet and watching television can be important to relaxing your mind and letting those sore feet recover. It is also important to stretch and roll out certain muscles if necessary.
American Ballet Theatre soloist and personal trainer Roman Zhurbin recommends incorporating active recovery into your cross-training plan up to three times a week. Think of active recovery as your regular cross-training workout, but less intense and half as long. “I’ll do lifting, pull-ups, body-weight exercises, push-ups, and anything else I’m working on,” says Zhurbin. He recommends it should be just enough exercise, not to the point where it exhausts you and causes fatigue.
Overall, you know your body best, you know its limits and what it requires to recover. Not only is it important to recover from dance physically, but mentally as well. There is a lot of pressure in the dance world to look a certain way, perform better and constantly be working and learning new skills. It is not uncommon that these worries can follow a dancer into the dance studio and affect their performance. It is common that the immediate reaction is to increase our training but perhaps sometimes training smarter is more important than training harder.
It’s important to remember that you can balance active recovery with being a couch potato. Both forms of recovery are acceptable and as a dancer or dance instructor, you should allow yourself the freedom to recover in the best ways that work for you!