April 2020 Issue
Injuries are inevitable and play a large role in the careers and lives of performers. We are constantly challenging and pushing our bodies and when the worst happens, we need to know how to effectively recover. Allowing time to heal properly can prevent longer health issues and prolonged time away from training. Injuries can occur in many different ways such as not warming up effectively, using incorrect technique or incidents due to lack of space, a reason in which most recent injuries may occur due to our current situation and lack of access to studios. Therefore, we must know how to train safely, caring for ourselves and others.
Safe dance practice is essential for preventing injuries and following these steps can keep you safe in the studio. The correct attire and footwear should be worn, for instance leotard, tights and ballet shoes for ballet classes, free of jewellery and loose long hair. Additionally, we should train in ventilated, well lit rooms, with a sprung floor and enough space to move. Remaining hydrated and correct nutrition, a subject in which I will expand on in a future blog entry, are also important to prevent injuries and fatigue on the body. But what else can be done in order to remain healthy, motivated and recover effectively ready to return to your intense regime? Note: after being out of training due to injury you should ease your body back into your usual routine. This will allow your body to build its strength back up without resulting in further injury.
So what about relieving pains after injury? When experiencing pain, everyone’s first instinct is to seek and take pain relief. This is perfectly ok however, if you take a form of pain relief and continue to dance and exercise, you may end up causing more harm and injury to the area. This is because the medicine or pain relief has eased the discomfort, meaning you may be unable to feel any additional strain on the area which can result in a longer recovery period. If you experience pain and decide to take some medication to ease the pain, it is best to do this and then observe for the remainder of the class from the side, taking notes so you can catch up at a later date once recovered. Furthermore, when an injury has just been incurred, applying ice can help reduce swelling and inflammation. Ice should never be applied directly to the skin and should not be held on the injured area for longer than 15 minutes per session. This can be done every few hours and the area should be elevated. A couple of days after the injury, heat can be applied to promote blood flow to the area.
Now that the physical aspects have been discussed, let’s talk about the mental aspect. Injuries and time away from the studio can be mentally draining and take their toll on our motivation and well-being. Not being able to do what we love and watch others carry on normally can be a very emotive and difficult time for performers, and this can be said from personal experience. When our lives are in the studio, parting from it can be tough, even if it is what is best for us. The psychological effects of injury are just as important as the physical. Ways to maintain motivation and a healthy mind may be simply speaking to those close to you and making plans for after your recovery. Watching theatre, dance performances and rehearsals will keep you in the loop with the industry so you do not miss out. One thing I personally like to do when injured, is to begin planning choreography and exploring concepts for pieces I have wanted to expand on for some time. This means I am prepared for when I can return to the studio and try out my new ideas. Everybody has their own methods of coping and we all recover differently, find what is best for you and focus on that.
Distractions help the process of healing and keep you mentally well. Self care is crucial in the life of a performer and should always be scheduled into our busy timetables. Keep pushing everyday to reach your aspirations and keep presenting your unique personality to the world. Everyday you will make progress and be closer to your goals. Great things come to those who put in the hours, believe in your strength and make a change.
Stay healthy and well during this difficult time dancers. Use it to take time to work on yourself, make those improvements and reach those goals.
Make decisions your future self will thank you for.