The excitement, determination, and stress level of dance audition season is upon us. You know what else comes with the audition season? Injury. I see it every year as dancers transition from holidays to auditions. It’s to be expected, but here are 7 ways you can lessen your injury rate, so you can nail that audition.
1. Overuse or Acute? What’s the difference?
An acute injury would be a single trauma, like twisting your ankle. You can pinpoint the exact moment you hurt yourself.
With this type of injury, you may choose to take a few days off, and although this is not the only thing you should do for an injury, R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) is always a good way to start.
An over use injury, is a pain that you can’t pinpoint to the exact time you injured it. This can be because of several factors including poor technique, lack of stamina, nutrition issues, or conditions of studio. This type of injury is more common in dancers.
There are several ways you can help avoid over use injuries during your audition season. Starting now to increase your cardio vascular strength, nutrition, and cross training outside of the dance studio, will dramatically increase your extension, strengthen, and precision used in your variations and combinations. Seeking out a dance specific cross training such as The GYROTONIC® Method, Pilates, or conditioning can assist you to find the inconsistencies in your strength that may be causing your pain.
Nutrition is just as important as the time you spend in the studio. Make sure you're getting a balanced diet designed for athletes. This will speed up your body’s healing, recovery time, and increase energy. If you find yourself dealing with any type of eating disorder such as Anorexia or Bulimia, now is the time to talk with your parents and tell them you want to see a therapist. Proper nutrition and mental health are essential for success, and will greatly increase your dancing performance, the shape of your body and mental stamina.
3. Warming up
If you think that jumping into your splits and getting “a good stretch on” before your classes is the best way to warm up, I'm here to tell you NO! Warming up is essential to keeping your joints and muscles healthy. Warming up means getting your blood flowing, engaging in a light cardio activity, and getting your muscles active, not stretched! Save the stretching for after class, warm up with light cardio and strengthening movement.
Take time during the quick pace of audition season, to brush up on your technique and go simple. Most overuse injuries happen from a small, bad habit that creeps up and you do over and over unknowingly. Try taking a lower level ballet classes and focus on the importance of correcting technique. When you're in the middle of audition season, this is not the time to show off in class. Use your classes as the time to physically and mentally prepare for your auditions.
5. Speak with your directors and instructors.
Having them on board and knowing your audition schedule, is a big help to you and your teacher. If your instructors know what your audition plan is for the season, they can help tailor your corrections, assist with your inconsistencies, and things you want to improve.
6. Enough rest time.
As dancers, we push ourselves to the max every single day, and often do not take time or get time to recover properly for the next day of work. If you are choosing to audition, you have chosen to take your dance to the next level and you're dedicating yourself to this craft. Getting enough sleep, eating properly, and resting your muscles and joints are essential to being ready for your audition. This does not mean only rest the night before, but be smart with the months leading up to your audition.
7. The mental preparation.
Mental preparation is just as important as physically preparing for your audition. Train your mind before you train your body. Take time to visualize what your body feels like, the confidence level you have, the way you move to the music, and how the judges will receive your performance. Start now, see each movement going flawlessly and start training your mind to be positive and allow your body to follow.
A dancers’ Health means Mental, Emotional, and Physical. Do your best to assess all three categories this audition season and see where you are lacking. Having a balance will provide you with the best chance of an Injury Free Audition Season.