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Posts Tagged ‘acro dance’

Why Muscle Cramps Happen During Dance and How to Avoid Them

When dance students push themselves too hard, their bodies will sometimes fight back.

Muscle cramps, especially those in the feet, legs, and back, are painful and can be crippling to dancers, so it’s essential to understand muscle cramps and know how to treat them.

What are these cramps?

Muscle cramps or spasms are involuntary contractions of one or more muscles. They often happen without warning and can be caused by a variety of factors.

A sustained muscle spasm, one that lasts longer than a few seconds, is a muscle cramp. Though generally harmless, muscle cramps can temporarily make it impossible to use the affected muscle and cause pain to the area.

However, as any trained dancer knows you’ve got to quickly push through these cramps as the show must go on. Here are some tips to help you stay in those dance shoes and into the studio.

What are the causes?

There are several things that can result in muscle cramps. These can include:

  • Nutrient deficiency – Experiencing muscle cramps indicates that your body lacks magnesium or other important vitamins and minerals. Dark, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, beans, lentils, and bananas are all examples of magnesium-rich foods.
  • Dehydration – Dehydration cramps occur from participating in rigorous physical activities such as dance, resulting in fluid loss from sweating or overexertion. Excessive depletion of bodily fluids, combined with low fluid intake, rids the body of vital electrolytes and water. Healthy muscle tissue requires adequate water, sodium, and more to stay strong and allow for quality muscle contraction.
  • Tight muscles – Tight muscles can result from overexertion, not warming up appropriately, or holding a position for an extended period. When we have tight muscles, there’s a depletion of oxygen to that muscle because of reduced blood flow.
  • Injury – Like tight muscles, injuries decrease the blood flow and oxygen supply leading to muscle cramps.

How can we prevent cramps?

Depending on the cause of the cramp, there are a few solutions you can try to help alleviate the discomfort.

  • Warm-up properly – A guaranteed way to get a muscle cramp is to avoid warming up before your next rehearsal or performance. Often the best way to warm-up is with dynamic and static stretches. This will adequately prepare all your major muscles for the intensity of your dance class by enabling more blood to flow and reduce the chance of a muscle spasm or cramp.
  • Take things slowly – Even after a good warm-up, don’t jump right into an intense dance routine. Make sure you slowly ease into your dancing. When you progress at a respectable pace, your muscles will have the time they need to adjust.
  • Stay hydrated – It is crucial to drink plenty of liquids throughout the day and take regular breaks to hydrate during your dance class. If you have a heavy clinic or intense competition coming up, be sure to focus on hydrating all week long. Keep in mind that sometimes water is not enough. You may need a sports drink to replenish your body and replace lost electrolytes.
  • Eat nutrient-rich foods – Beyond keeping yourself hydrated, it’s also essential to make sure you’re eating the right foods. Dancers must eat a balanced diet overall, but more than that, dancers need foods that are rich in electrolytes. These include bananas, spinach, beans, almonds, coconut, watermelon, and avocado. A diet high in essential vitamins and minerals can help ward off those often debilitating cramps and spasms.
  • Relax – Stretching out a cramp will help release the muscle. Instinctively dancers want to avoid putting weight on a leg or foot that is cramping but taking a walk around the room is one of the best ways to transition the muscle from its contracted position. A self-massage with the hands or a foam roller helps as well.
  • Self-care – Self-care is essential to prevent muscle cramps and ensure your body can perform at its peak capacity. This includes cooling down after dancing, stretching, and rolling out muscles on a foam roller to alleviate tightness. The use of ice or heat packs or a hot Epsom salt bath after a long day can also help. In addition, seeking out expert professional help is another great way to keep your body in peak condition.

As a dancer, muscle cramps and spasms are a part of life and they won’t always have a definitive cause. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep our bodies in top shape to reduce these incidents. A dancer’s body is their instrument, so it’s important to implement these tips so you can avoid anything cramping your style!

Keeping our dancers healthy is extremely important to us at EDC.

For more dance tips and essential class information, be sure to follow our informative blog and on social media

Photo Feature: Addison Kelly (Dancer/Model)

Ten-year-old Addison Kelly avoids muscle cramps with a customized stretching routine, a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, and warming up properly.

6 Steps to a Front Walkover

A well-rounded dancer must perform a wide array of athletic tricks that can take choreography to another level.

These can include cartwheels, back walkovers, ariels, needles, back tucks, and more. One elemental maneuver that should be in every dancer’s toolbox is the front walkover.

If you are ready to add this move to your repertoire, keep reading for six steps to mastering a front walkover.

What is a front walkover?

To learn how to perform a front walkover, it’s important to fully understand what it is. A front walkover is an acrobatic maneuver that involves lifting a leg above the torso in a back-bridge position. The legs then fully rotate so the dancer both starts and finishes in an upright standing position.

The front walkover resembles a fusion of a cartwheel, a handstand, and a round-off. But it is definitely its own unique maneuver that utilizes a comprehensive set of skills.

Work on your flexibility. 

Before beginning to master this new move, ensure you are working to improve flexibility. Doing a front walkover requires a lot of flexibility in your back, legs, and core. If you improve your whole body’s strength and flexibility, you will have an easier time completing this exercise.

Stretch properly.

Movements like the front walkover can put a lot of strain on your shoulders, wrists, and back, so it’s a good idea to stretch before beginning. Following a light warm-up, loosen up those muscles and joints. Some examples of good stretch’s include:

  • Raise both arms high, then reach across your body as you lean from side to side at the waist.
  • Lie face down on the floor and push your torso up and back to limber up your lower back. Flex both wrists to get them ready to hold you up.
  • Sit on the floor with your back straight and centered. Extend your legs outward as wide as you can. Carefully rotate your torso towards the right then move your torso over your right leg. Remember to breathe and go slow.

Never neglect your warm-up and stretching routine. You’re at a much higher risk of injury if you force your body to perform intricate movements before it’s ready.

Ensure to follow safety procedures. 

Set up a private lesson with a dance instructor, to be your spotter, as you work on any challenging new skills. A spotter can support your weight and help guide you as you run through the movements, which lets you focus on your technique.

In addition to a spotter, grab some padded mats. Mats and protective surfaces will help prevent injury in case you land incorrectly. They will also take away some fear, which might be holding you back. Once you get more comfortable with the skill, you can slowly build up the courage to do it without pads, or a spotter.

Break it down.

You can break the front walkover down into other more straightforward exercises that you can master before trying the full skill. They include:

  • A well-controlled handstand is a setup for the front walkover. So, it will be beneficial to make sure you have it down first.
  • The bridge and backbend translate perfectly to the second part of the walkover. Lying on your back with your hands and feet planted firmly on the ground beneath you, press up so that your body forms an arch. Support yourself by keeping your arms and legs straight and strong. 
  • Master your cartwheel to get used to the action of kicking up to your hands, which will carry you over when doing the walkover. Set your hands down on the floor one after the other as you swing your back leg up. Drive through with your kicking leg to lift yourself into an inverted position, then rotate around and set it back down, followed by your opposite leg.

Get into position. 

To do a front walkover, you need to stand as if you are going into a handstand. Put your legs in a split position. Start with whichever leg is more natural for you.

Then kick your back leg up into the air. As your first leg is approaching a vertical position, kick your other leg up into the air. Move your weight to your arms and shoulders.

[Want to know more about what’s it’s like to be a competitive dancer? Click here!]

Stick the landing.

Shift your weight back to your leading leg as it touches down. Then, push off the ground with your hands. You should end in the same position you started in. Make sure that you plant your feet as you land. Keep your arms flexed as you stick that landing.

Make sure you stay using the proper form throughout the whole movement. You should press your hips forward and ensure that you don’t stand up too fast.

Other important tips.

  • Wear comfortable clothing that doesn’t inhibit your movement.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Improve your conditioning and overcome your fear of being upside down by spending a little bit longer in your handstand and bridge each time.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you’re not progressing as fast as you’d like. A positive mind frame is a huge part of being a strong dancer.
  • After you perfect your front walkover, use your understanding of the technique to start working on more difficult skills.

Most importantly, don’t overthink it, be patient, and have fun! Want to master the front walkover and other essential dance tricks? Take your talent to the next level with Evolution Dance Complex. Contact us today about our company teams or recreational dance classes!

 

Photo Feature- Noel Gockerell (Dancer/Model)

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