I recently spoke to a dancer who told me 4 fellow dancers in her competition company were injured within 2 months. She believed it was related to discontinued or shortened warm-ups before rehearsals. I think she could be right…
Dancers usually take part a warm-up at the beginning of class because dance teachers understand its importance. Sometimes the dancers themselves know injuries can happen if they don’t warm up and know they perform better when warm. However, I sometimes find that students don’t understand the importance of warming up and go along with it simply because it’s part of class. So, what actually happens during a good warm-up? How it can positively affect dance performance?
First, let’s get clear about one thing… Sitting on the floor to stretch before class is NOT A WARM UP!!! Static stretching has its place at the end of a class or rehearsal during the cool-down phase (also very important and will be discussed in a later blog).
The goal of a warm-up is to warm the body and prepare it for the dance demands to come. This means warm-ups should look different for different styles and levels of dance. Regardless of type of dance, every warm-up has the same goals: increase the heart rate with general movement, mobilize the joints, dynamic stretching of large muscle groups, and increase the heart rate with dance-specific movement.
What really happens during an effective warm-up?
The benefits are clear, but how long should you be warming up?
A warm-up should last approximately 15 minutes. However, there are certain factors that can influence this timeframe. A longer warm-up duration is needed in the mornings and evenings (as compared to middle of the day), as we age, and in cold or wet environments. Keeping in mind that a warm-up prepares the body for what is to come, a longer warm-up may also be necessary in preparation for advanced classes with increased intensity and activity demands compared to beginner classes.
It is super important to warm up before every class, rehearsal, performance, competition, and audition in order to prevent injuries and keep you dancing your best. If you would like warm-up recommendations, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Instagram @head2toe_physical therapy – I would love to help!