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."
Practice movements that resemble dance. Photo via wikimedia.org
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.