Whether it’s a convention or rehearsals that are keeping you moving all day, maintaining energy in a healthy way is critical for dancers.
Energy drinks, high sugar coffee blends, candy or processed snacks may seem like a quick fix to “get you through” the 11th full out run of your production number but they can do much more harm than good. All of those things will cause energy spikes and crashes and worse, dehydration. Check out our tips on fueling your body for the long haul from WCTE Staff, Amy Tully, a Certified Personal Trainer and BS in Kinesiology.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate - The human body is mainly water and when we are moving, sweating, and mentally absorbing information, we have to make sure that our water intake is up. Dehydration can put you at a higher risk for muscular injury and cause brain fog, neither of which are needed when you want to work your hardest. Aim to drink at least half your body weight in ounces daily, more if you are active (like dancing all day) or if it’s hot. A simple example: a 150 lb person should aim to consume 75 oz or more daily of plain water. No, seltzer water doesn’t count towards this goal as the carbonation can also be dehydrating - Sorry Pamplemousse, it's not personal.
Eat for Energy - Now is not the time to cut carbs. Really no time is great for that if you are an athlete of any kind. Your body uses carbohydrates as an energy source. Choose them wisely - Complex Carbohydrates like darker, leafy greens from a to-go salad or fiber-filled fruits like apples and oranges are easy on-the-go choices and will offer sustained energy.
Stay Away from Sugary Snacks aka Simple Carbohydrates - Learn how to read labels. Granola and “power” bars seem like a quick and easy choice for stuffing in your dance bag but processed sugar will create quick upticks and then immediate crashes of your blood sugar. The average recommended intake of sugar for an adult is no more than 30 grams a day, children 24g or less. For example, a Cliff Bar, marketed as a healthier choice, has 25g of sugar, the limit of your daily sugar intake.
Pair it with a Protein - We know that your muscles need protein to grow and stay strong but when you pair lean proteins with complex carbohydrates it packs a powerful punch of energy! Think grilled chicken on a salad, peanut butter on whole grain toast, apple and a string cheese… what’s your favorite combo?
Rest and Active Recovery - Overtraining, not taking days off, stress and poor diet can all cause oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress can cause cellular damage over time if the body is not getting adequate rest and recovery. Do a self-check with this list of Active Rest and Recovery tips.
Schedule time off from dance.
Make your sleep schedule a priority. Children aged 6–12 years should regularly sleep 9–12 hours per 24 hours and teenagers aged 13–18 years should sleep 10 hours per 24 hours.
Cross train the muscles in your body to lower the risk of overuse injury.
Participate in active recovery activities like walking, Yoga, Foam Rolling weekly. This will give your body a chance to take a break from familiar dance-based movements and repair itself properly, coming back stronger and more ready to perform.