Show week can take a lot out of you. You might have early company classes, long tech rehearsals and late-night cast parties—not to mention the actual time you spend performing. But developing the right post-show routine can help you recover before the next time you hit the stage.
Fight Inflammation Fast
Start battling inflammation within 20 minutes after curtain drops, recommends Michael Leslie, San Francisco Ballet's Dancer Wellness Center director. "It's harder to get rid of swelling once you have it than it is to minimize it in the first place," he says. He advises icing, as well as using gravity—like putting legs up the wall. SFB has also invested in NormaTec recovery boots, which offer pulsed compression.
Replace Lost Fluids
"Hydration after a show impacts how you perform the next day," says Emily C. Harrison, a registered dietitian who counsels performers through her website, dancernutrition.com. If you get dehydrated, your body won't function as well, says Leslie. No need for fancy sports drinks post-show—plain H2O is enough.
Make Smart Meal Choices
"For optimal athletic performance, refuel between half an hour and two hours after vigorous exercise," says Harrison. During that window, your body is more likely to absorb nutrients, storing them for the next day.
Give Your Brain a Break
Notice how you feel at the end of each night. Are you beating yourself up over onstage mistakes? "Figure out what went wrong and come up with a plan to fix it, but don't get hung up," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with dancers at Atlanta Ballet. "We all have bad days, and panicking won't help."
Make Sleep a Priority
To keep dancing your best, aim for eight or nine hours of sleep per night. Of course, that can be hard, especially when you're coming off an adrenaline high. Get to bed faster by cooking dinner at home instead of going out, and by streamlining your nighttime routine.
Go Easy at the Cast Party
"Research shows that drinking alcohol at night affects how you perform the next day," says Harrison. Does that mean you have to skip the opening-night celebration? Not necessarily. Harrison's advice: "Go easy—definitely don't binge-drink—and compensate with tons of water."