© Copyright 2021 Artwork by Cordi Neckermann
Unfortunately, injuries can happen anywhere, anytime but there are a few little things that you can do in your dance fitness class to ensure that you can keep dancing away safely. I started dancing and training at the age of 10 and to this day (I’m now in my 40s!), I have never had a dance or yoga-related injury (touch wood). I put this down to my excellent teachers who very early on, made sure that injury prevention was part of my training routine.
As a dance fitness and yoga instructor, my main priority is that my class participants feel safe and do not get injured, meaning they can maximise the fun they have during my classes, whilst lookigm after their bodies at the same time.
Here are the five best tips to prevent injuries in a dance fitness class:
1. These shoes are made for dancing
I have danced in many shoes in my dancing life. From ballet shoes to flamenco, high heels to tap shoes and everything in between. The shoe has to fit the dance style and support the technique and aesthetic.
Dance fitness is no different. The shoe has to fit and you need to feel good in it. So here are a few things to look out for when choosing your shoes your dance fitness class:
Support for your feet Obviously, our muscles are supposed to support the correct alignment in our feet, but that is not always the case and poor muscles strength in our feet can affect the alignment of our entire body. When picking out your dance fitness shoes, make sure your feet have the support they require but that the shoes themselves don’t feel too heavy on your feet. When participating in a high impact dance fitness class (one that involves a lot of jumping), it is important to also look at the cushioning of your shoe. A shoe with a responsive sole supports your jumps by responding to the ground and returning some of the energy. This is particularly important when you are just starting out on your dance fitness journey and it is essential to help your body with supporting alignment and shock absorption until your muscles are stronger.
A note on dancing barefoot
Yes, it is possible to do high impact dance fitness class without any shoes and not get injured. Due to the pandemic and the poor floors in my home, I have taught my high impact dance fitness classes bare foot for more than a year without any problems. But this ONLY works if you are trained to assume a correctly aligned posture and your muscles are already strong enough to absorb the shocks. I don’t recommend beginners dance barefoot at all, unless you choose to opt out of the jumping which is absolutely fine and won’t make the class any less fun. It is also a good idea to wear a cover on the ball of your foot to make it easier to pivot and turn.
It’s all in the grip Just like a racing car, you need the right tyres for certain terrain. The sole of your dancing shoes shouldn’t be too slippery or too sticky. You want to make sure you have just the right amount of grip for maximum performance. When shoes are too sticky, it can be very strenuous on your knee joint. Turning and pivoting should feel easy and comfortable. The tips of your toes and knees should always point in the same direction to prevent any knee injury. Some dance fitness shoes have a special turning point on the ball of the foot to make turning easy and effortless.
2. Be an onion
Properly warming up is one of the best ways to prevent injuries. The first three songs in my BollyX dance fitness classes are always dedicated to slowly warming up the bodu and getting it moving, gently stretching the muscles and creating some heat in the fluid pf the joints. Especially in the winter months, it is helpful to wear layers to class, so you can remove some clothing after the warmup and put them back on for the cool down, to prevent getting cold too quickly from the sweat drying on your skin and heat evaporating from your body.. A neat trick I still follow (even though it makes me look a little bit like I’ve escaped from an 80s music video!) are leg warmers. Keeping your ankles warm and cosy so they can reach their peak flexibility faster, helps to prevent injuries in that area of the body.
3. Alignment and Posture
Our amazing body is designed to function at its best when our posture is aligned. The movement in the shoulder joints, hips and knees can cause injuries if performed repeatedly with bad posture. What is the cure for this, I hear you ask? You may have already guessed, it's good posture. The magic of a dance fitness class is that because you need to be alert at all times to follow the moves, you are naturally assuming an upright position with your upper body. The most vulnerable joint in the lower body is the knee joint. As mentioned above, the knees and toes should always align. In a dance fitness class, there are many movements in which we rotate our thighs outwards, for example in a squat. Always be mindful of actively aligning your knees and toes to keep your knee joint healthy.
4. Stretch and EXTRA stretch
Song number two on the BollyX playlist is always dedicated to a dynamic stretch to warm and prepare the muscles for the dance workout. Taking the muscles through their full range of motion and rehearsing the movements, helps the muscles to increase coordination and work at full strength. This helps prevent any injuries when you are getting lost in the music and are dancing like no one is watching!
At the end of each BollyX class, is our cool down song introduces much slower movements and involves a static stretch at the end. Slower movements help to take your heart rate back to a normal level gently. The static stretch is super important to prevent any post workout injuries and it also gets rid of any tension and lactic acid that might have accumulated in your muscles during the workout.
5. Always speak to your Instructor
This is by far the most important point in injury prevention. Fitness instructors are not health care professionals, but if you have a pre-existing condition or an old injury, it is really important to let your instructor know beforehand. Every instructor is trained to give modifications to keep all class participants safe. Dance fitness provides a huge range of possibilities that fit every need. Even if you only follow the arm movements or leg movements in a class, you will still have a good workout, with lots of sweats and smiles. So, don’t be shy and always speak to your instructor if you have any concerns or if there are any movements that don’t feel comfortable to you.
Always take good care of yourself
Last but not least: Listen to your body, go slow when you feel tired and take a short break if you need to. It is always better to sit out a song, than risk collapsing mid-class. Sadly, things like this do and have happened. There is no need to push yourself too hard when it comes to dancing. Dancing is a personal expression and if you feel like just doing step touches throughout an entire song, rather than pushing yourself more than you need to, that is you actively taking good care of yourself and is therefore the most beautiful expression ever.
Another important way to take care of yourself during a dance fitness workout is make sure you stay hydrated. Dance over to your water bottle as often as you need to. Dancing is sweaty business, and your body wants all that liquid back.
Now that you have all the injury prevention tricks, there is no reason to not dance with me, right?
Book a FREE trial class here!
Looking forward to dancing with you soon,
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