Safe Warm Up and Cool Down
It is important for dancers and musicians to safely warm up before a class or playing an instrument. If you do not sufficiently warm up before you begin your activity, you can cause damage to your body. Warming up prepares the body for movement. It increases your body's temperature and, in turn, decreases the tension in your muscles, thereby allowing longer and global movements. Equally important is cooling down after class or practice. Cooling down slows the body down, allowing the body to return to its resting temperature, it will also reduce muscle soreness as it allows the body to get rid of waste product such as lactic acid. Cooling down also prevents muscle soreness and stiffness. Both warming up properly and cooling down can help prevent injury.
An effective warm up should:
- prepare you mentally and physically for the task;
- permit freer movement of the muscles and joints;
- increase heart rate and blood circulation;
- improve effective muscle actions;
- reduce the risk of injury; and
- increase coordination and proprioception.
An effective cool down should:
- gradually slow your movements to bring your breathing and heart rate down to your resting rate;
- begin to cool the body temperature;
- stretch the muscles to eliminate lactic acid build up; and
- begin to rest the mind - increase in activity releases adrenaline and endorphins, which can lead to restlessness.
What to do if you are injured?
- Mention it immediately to your dance teachers.
- Treat the cause of the injury not the symptoms.
- Look for a treatment that attends to your individual needs and which is specific to your activity.
- Apply First Aid immediately after an acute injury.
- If the pain persists or you are unsure: seek help/advice from a qualified clinician/Performing Arts Specialist via a GP, Physiotherapist, Massage Therapist, Acupuncturist, etc.
- For Occasional/Minor Discomfort: soft massage, careful stretching, and/or an increased intake of calcium or potassium could help.
- If you suspect yourself or a fellow dancer may have a concussion, please consult the concussion policy guidelines, a copy of which is available in every studio, at reception or in the health department.
- If you fall ill or have any concerns, please seek first aid advice from the main reception, health or dance science departments.
First Aid immediately after an acute injury
All dancers need to remember the acronym P.R.I.C.E.D., a first aid guide to the immediate treatment of injuries. P.R.I.C.E.D. can control the severity of the injury, reducing inflammation and pain in the area.
- Protection: Remove additional danger or risk from the injured area.
- Rest: Stop dancing and stop moving the injured area.
- Ice: Apply ice to the injured area for 8-10 minutes every couple of hours.
- Compression: Apply an elastic compression bandage to the injured area.
- Elevation: Raise the injured area above the heart.
- Diagnosis: Acute injuries should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
Key Prevention Techniques
- Good technique
- Effective warm up and cool down
- Build up muscle strength and joint mobility
- Support your studies with supplementary training e.g. swimming, jogging, Pilates, Yoga, and resistance training
- Healthy and balanced diet
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Properly fitted clothing and appropriate footwear
- Take plenty of breaks
- Regular stretching
- Move your joints safely through controlled movement, making sure your joints are fluent and smooth and in a good alignment
- Lastly: do not dance through the pain!