5 dance tips in the lead up to dance eisteddfods & competitions

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1. Warm up

In busy time’s we often forget to ensure we warm up our bodies as we would normally in class. Think of any repeated movements especially jumps and extensions and ensure these muscle groups are warm prior to performing. Not only will it help to prevent injury but it will help to improve both range of motion and muscle power.

Benefits of warming up:

• Increased blood flow to active muscle groups
• Improve muscle contractions and force production
• Reduce muscle tightness and increase flexibility
• Reduce stiffness of joints and connective tissues
• Improve coordination and reaction time by increasing nerve conduction speed and sensitivity of nerve endings
• Prepare the heart and lungs to better deliver oxygen around the body
• Mental preparation for the task/performance to follow

2. Visualisation/Mental practice

Running through an entire dance or even a specific movement or sequence in your mind without physically moving is helpful in both the learning and refinement stages of a routine.

It activates the neural pathways which send the message from the brain to the necessary muscles when the movement is physically performed, this can also help in initially learning a difficult step or sequence by challenging and enhancing coordination. It can also help pre performance once a skill has been mastered as it helps to prepare those same neural pathways to ‘turn on’ which improves the chances of correct execution.

3. Diet

Make sure that you eat a balanced diet with the correct nutrients to meet the demands being placed on the body. Under consumption of food is detrimental to bone health as well as energy levels. It is also important to remain hydrated through rehearsals and on eisteddfod day itself to replace sweat loss and prevent dehydration which can lead to fatigue and injury.

A great detailed dance specific nutrition resource from the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science can be found here: https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.iadms.org/resource/resmgr/resource_papers/dance-nutrition-2016.pdf

4. Rest

Rest is an important part of recovery both physically and mentally and helps in the prevention of burnout. Guidelines recommend that children aged 6-12 years achieve 9 to 12 hours of sleep per night and adolescents aged 13-18 years have 8 to 10 hours per night.

During stages of deep sleep our bodies produce hormones that help to repair and grow tissues, muscles and bones. This is important all year round but even more so in the lead up to competitions which can be stressful and busy!
Loss of sleep can have an effect on health, recovery, fitness, mental well-being, general performance as well as increasing the likelihood of injury occurring. Studies have shown that when we are fatigued there is an increase in the chance of injury occurring. There is also an increase in the number of decision-making errors and training errors which can also lead to injury.

5. Enjoy!

Don’t get caught up in the steps and remember to enjoy your performance! Be confident in your many hours of preparation and have fun in the opportunity to perform in front of an audience.

If you need any further information regarding Elissa’s top 5 tips please feel free to contact her in the clinic on 8544 1397. Elissa is available for all dance assessments, pre pointe screenings and physiotherapy assessment and management.


References:.

Copenhaver, E., & Diamond, A. (2017). The Value of Sleep on Athletic Performance, Injury, and Recovery in the Young Athlete. Pediatric Annals, 46(3), E106-E111.

Krasnow, D. H., & Wilmerding, V. (2015). Motor learning and control for dance: Principles and practices for performers and teachers. Champaign, IL: Human Kinectics.

Sports Medicine Australia. (2013). Sports medicine for sports trainers (10th ed.). Chatswood, N.S.W.: Mosby.