With “Nutcracker” season upon us, this is a stressful time for all young dancers. Schedules go crazy, there is little sleep and even less thought to proper meals. The very last thing you want is an injury at this juncture which will take you out of what you’ve work so hard toward. So here are a few reminders.
The standard rule of thumb is that, for every day you miss class due to injury, it will take you two to come back. Out for a week, two weeks to return to your former shape before you were injured.
Accidents happen, of course. They are not always avoidable. But, in many cases, some forethought might have prevented it altogether or, at least, from being worse than it should be. See if any of these apply to you:
1. 1.. Not warming up properly. That means doing a ballet barre, not just a couple of hasty plies, before rehearsal or performance. It also means being careful about what steps you practice before you’ve warmed up! Leaps across the floor with no warm up is an accident waiting to happen.
2. 2. Not getting enough sleep. By this I mean getting only a few hours sleep (like at a sleepover) and then expecting your body to have the same reflexes the next day. It will not. You will be sluggish and your muscles will NOT respond the way they should.
3. 3. Arriving late to class or missing part of the warm up sequence. You think you can make up the time by doing a couple of tendus on your own. You cannot.
4. 4. Not having enough body “awareness” when you work. No one is perfect. Most of us have to deal with some kind of inherited physical trait. Examples: swayed backs, weak abdominals, hyper-extended knees, tight hamstrings etc. Your teacher will have pointed these out to you. Your responsibility is to work on this all the time and to pay extra care when warming up for a show. .
5. 5.Not eating properly or enough to maintain muscle strength! This is absolutely crucial since “you are what you eat.”
Remember, “Nutcracker” is you first priority at the moment. Parties, sleepovers or other distractions should be put on hold. If you are out for any reason, the entire team suffers. It’s not just you.
With a little bit of care to your instrument (a.k.a. your body) you will have a wonderful rewarding "Nutcracker" and create a lifetime of memories!