19 Feb The importance of warming up properly
TBSOD dance teacher, Zoe Simpson, is passionate about safe dance especially in the area of preparing the body for performances and classes. Below she has looked into the process of the often neglected ‘warm up’.
You and a friend each take your wet clothes out of the washing machine. You decide to take an extra 15 minutes to warm-up the clothes in the dryer so they’re ready to wear. Your friend, however, put their wet clothes straight on. Later, they complain that their clothes are still cold & don’t look as good as yours. It’s obvious that the extra 15 minutes to warm & ready the clothes was worth it, isn’t it? …
Then why do most dancers neglect to warm-up their bodies before class? Not warming up your body is just like putting on those wet clothes. But why should a dancer warm-up?
Well to start with, warming up helps you to improve and thrive as a dancer. When your body is properly warmed up, it increases your flexibility, strength & coordination, allowing you to get that kick higher, that plié lower and that jazz turn faster.
It also helps to prevent injury. How many of your friends have come into class with injuries before? Have you been this person? A 15-minute warm-up reduces the risk of injury by up to 50%! This means that your injury risk decreases from 74.5% to 25.5% by just warming up.
It’s kind of like if you put your phone on charge but then don’t turn the powerpoint on… how can you expect the charger to save your phone from running out of battery? You can’t! This is the same with our muscles. How can we expect our muscles to save us from injury if we haven’t warmed them up & turned them on?
But how should a dancer properly warm-up?
Unlike what you may have thought before, warming up is not just sitting in the splits.
Warm-ups should include, Cardio (running & jumping),Strength (sit-ups, push-ups, wall sit), Normal stretching. IN THAT ORDER!
I’m not sure about you but that sounds tiring! But wait – just remember that a warm-up only has to be 15 minutes long:
5 minutes of cardio, 5 minutes of strength and 5 minutes of stretching.
Now, why these steps?
Cardio: Raises your body’s core temperature, improving blood & oxygen flow to your muscles. The more blood and oxygen your muscles receive, the easier they are to relax and contract. In simple words, this is just waking your body up, getting your heart pumping & your muscles warm.
Strength: Turns your muscles on. Your muscles hold the strength in charge of controlling & correcting your alignment. Thus, if stretching (let alone dancing) is attempted before strength work, your muscles will NOT be able to control & correct your alignment as effectively.
Incorrect alignment is the BIGGEST cause of injury in dance.
Stretch: The final step is used to relax the body, increasing muscular elasticity (flexibility). Without this step, a dancers’ muscles stay tense, restricting flexibility & leading to an increase in lactic acid, which contributes to a sore & tight body the next day.
Wow! Did you know how important warming up is? Did you know that it helps to prevent injury? If you are a Tara Becker student, look out for the ‘Warm-up’ signs around the studio to help you prepare your body for class… and remember, broken down it’s just: 5 minutes cardio, 5 minutes strength, 5 minutes stretch.
Author: Zoe Simpson