How to Avoid Injuring Yourself (Like I Did) When Dancing

Heather Labonté Photography by Angela McConnell

Heather Labonté
Photography by Angela McConnell

Recently I’ve taken up bellydancing. It was my way of starting 2013 off on a different foot, so to speak. It just so happens that I went dancing on Friday night at Levack Block down on Ossington. I don’t go to clubs often and I quickly recalled why when I woke up the next morning (one eyelid at a time.)

My knees! They felt like they belonged to the body of an 80 year old, not a 27 year old. It felt like my knees were made of glue descending the stairs into the subway that morning.

So I emailed my new bellydancing instructor, Heather Labonté. She’s an excellent dancer and teacher. I figured she would know what to do to prevent this from happening again.

Here’s her advice. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Watch What You’re Wearing

Wear supportive shoes (probably not heels) if you plan to be dancing! The angle of heels is brutal for knees/legs, especially if you’re putting any impact on them, and if you’re jumping/dancing/moving around, you’re going to want to support too.

Warm Up

If you come inside from the cold and go crazy dancing, that can be hard for your body to keep up with. Start slow and give your joints time to get used to moving and get the blood moving. You want to lubricate the joint with synovial fluid before you make it do anything “hard”. Start slow and, if you’re dancing hard and then sitting for long periods of time, make sure to go easy on yourself. The start-stop hot-cold thing can be tough on joints, in fact, that’s why dancers wear leg warmers to keep joints warm between exercises/pieces!

Cool Down

This one’s probably the hardest, especially if you’re out having fun. I dunno about you, but for me the worst damage is definitely done at the end of the night. I’ll dance hard, get all sweaty and warm, then abruptly go outside in the cold and then to sleep. This is like, the worst. And since you woke up with the discomfort the next day (I did!), I’m betting any problems probably started here, instead of earlier in the night.

After you’re out doing crazy dancing stuff, give yourself some time to cool down and relax before subjecting your joints to any sub-zero temperatures and stretch them out gently before bed.

Get Plenty of Water

You know the expression “rode hard and put away wet”? Don’t do that!

If you’ve been drinking, make sure to drink water and maybe take an anti-inflammatory. Any dehydration will definitely take its toll on the lubrication of your joints.

***

Thank you to Heather for this sound advice! If you’re a beginner dancer like me, but you’re not a spring chicken (like me!) it’s important to avoid injury by taking the time to do things properly. I hope Heather’s advice will help you when you go out dancing. She laughed about her advice not being very ‘sexy’ but you don’t become a bellydancer just by doing the sexy stuff. You have to take care of your body as well. So take care of yourselves, people!

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