An Expert-Approved Training Plan For Time Off From Dance
Make an active recovery plan for your time off from dance. Photo by Unsplash
Have two or more months off from dance this summer?
With a little planning, your body can reap the full benefits of your layoff—and transition back into the studio with ease.
Weeks one and two:
Use the first couple of weeks off to recharge your body. Photo by Leio McLaren/Unsplash
Truly rest. Indulge in long baths, reconnect with friends and catch up on sleep. If you're craving activity, do some gentle exercise like restorative yoga, long walks or low-key cardio.
Do cardio workouts like biking 2-3 times a week during the middle of your layoff. Photo by Viktor Kern/Unsplash
Start doing two to three weekly cardio workouts, like biking, swimming or using the elliptical. "You can take workout classes or play a sport, anything that incorporates whole body (both the upper and lower body) cardiovascular movements," says Jatin P. Ambegaonkar, PhD, associate professor in the Athletic Training Education Program at George Mason University.
Any strength training should focus on muscles that haven't been overused during the season, or areas of technique you know are quickest to fade. "If you're not naturally flexible, stretch," says Selina Shah, MD, who treats dancer in private practice in Walnut Creek, California. "If you have certain weaker muscles, incorporate strength work. If you have trouble with turns, focus on your core."
Gradually increase your functional activity—movements that resemble dance, like yoga, Pilates and targeted strength training. Incorporate regular stretching to maintain flexibility.
A couple dance classes a week is all you need. Photo by Jim Lafferty
Take at least one to two weekly dance classes. Prioritize functional activity over cardio workouts.
Two weeks before the new season:
Concentrate on the strength you'll need for the upcoming season. Photo by Jim Lafferty
Throw your energy back into class and other functional activity. "Do your homework about what's next," says Julie O'Connell, , a physical therapist at Athletico in Chicago. "Do I need strength for Swan Lake? Or do I need to work on my cardiovascular fitness?" This is the time to build your stamina and strength, so you can return to rehearsal ready for the season to come.
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.
I'd been a professional dancer for five years when I realized the pain I'd been feeling in my hip and down my sciatic nerve was not going away. I had been treating it for two years as we dancers do—with regular visits to my masseuse, physical therapy, baths, ice and lots of Aleve—but I never stopped dancing. It finally dawned on me that if I kept going at the speed I was going (which was, well, speedy), the pain would only get more severe and unrelenting, and I might never dance again.
I told myself I'd take two months off, and all would be better.
That first morning when I woke up at 10 am, I had no idea what to do with myself. My life until that moment had been dictated by class and rehearsal, every hour accounted for. How should I fill the huge swath of time ahead of me?