There's a new must-have accessory for the dancers who've begun to venture back into the studio. Face masks are essential to protect your teachers and fellow dancers (not to mention their families) from coronavirus. But they definitely make dancing more complicated.
How can you prepare for—and adjust to—the new masked normal? Here's practical advice from Dr. Steven Karageanes, a primary care sports medicine specialist who's worked with the Rockettes and "So You Think You Can Dance," and Anna Dreslinski Cooke, a Chicago-based professional dancer who has experience dancing in cloth masks, disposable masks, N95 masks, and face shields.
What to Expect<p>There's no way around it: Dancing while masked is uncomfortable, especially at first. That discomfort will vary depending on how hard you're dancing and which mask you choose. Cooke recommends steering clear of the N95 style, which is restrictive (and should be reserved for frontline workers if possible). Instead, opt for a homemade cloth mask. "I knew the N95 mask would be difficult to breathe in," says Cooke. "But I'd done some indoor biking in a face mask and felt fine, so I anticipated that a homemade cotton mask would be a little bit easier."</p>
How to Mask Better<p>Speaking of spares, you'll want to invest in several masks, so that you can wash them between each wearing. "The last thing you want is contact with virus that's on the surface of your mask," explains Karageanes. "Plus, sweaty masks can grow other organisms as well." </p>
Speak Up While You Mask Up<p>If you have asthma, cystic fibrosis or any other preexisting respiratory condition, it's essential to advocate for your own health and safety while masked. Cooke, who has mild asthma, is now making sure to hit her inhaler before each in-mask studio session: "You might think you can get get through it, but safety comes first." </p><p>Even if you've never had trouble breathing before, you should stop immediately if you feel faint, dizzy, or start to hyperventilate while dancing in a mask.</p>
Deep Breaths, Everyone<p>Those who cross-train on a regular basis may find dancing in a mask easier than those who aren't as well-conditioned, Karageanes says. If you're preparing to return to the studio, add more steady-state cardio to your routine now, which could help you acclimate to masked dancing.</p>
View this post on Instagram
"If the world was a bunch of people sitting in a room, and you raise your hand, then you better have something interesting to say," says our February cover star @rajafeatherkelly. "I want to raise my hand." 📷: Jayme Thornton (@jaymethornton)
A post shared by dancemagazine (@dancemagazine) on