Back in September we got to hear 5 tips from physiotherapist, Sirli Hinn, for coming back to work. Now we find ourselves at mid season which for many is, physically, the hardest part of the year. In keeping with that reality, this time she’s giving us 5 tips for mid-season maintenance.
We all know that time of year when it feels like every day people are getting injured and/or calling in sick. Often the repercussion is surviving dancers scrambling to learn new roles, new spots for a performance the same night. Or maybe just when you thought you finally had an easy week, your workload doubles. It’s stressful. On one such a week, a dancer hurt herself in class. As we paused to make sure she was ok, one of the guys came up behind me and quietly started singing, “another one bites the dust…”, it was sadly funny. Though there isn’t much we can do in terms of our schedule, there is a lot we can do in terms of ourselves. Like…
It’s interesting how as the season rolls along, schedules pick up speed and performances get more demanding we start to take shortcuts. Sleep starts to become less, workout routines vanish, healthy eating habits turn into fast comfort food cravings, and so on and so forth. And let’s all be honest, when we are tired, we are incredible at justifying poor choices. But really as the workdays do get harder and the winter approaches, depriving many of us of sunlight and warmth, that it is when it is most necessary to be on top of our health! What does that mean? Ask yourself,
- Am I getting enough sleep?
- Am I eating food that is fueling my body well and helping with recovery?
- Am I taking extra precautions around flu season?
- Am I taking my vitamins?
Point 4 begs the question, which vitamins should I be taking and when? These are Sirli’s go-to recommendations.
- Vitamin D (individual dose, speak with your doctor) regularly.
- Multivitamins – Especially when you are low energy.
When you are feeling ill:
- Zinc – 75-100mg/day. Starting 24h after feeling signs of getting sick. This can shorten the period of illness by 42%!
- Probiotics – It does not relieve symptoms, however, it also shortens the time of illness.
- Vitamin C – 500-1000mg max
These are all simple, everyday things that we can start to forget about during the hecticness of work and life.
Regulate Strength Training
No, this doesn’t mean, I’m tired I just won’t do it. It means, where in my schedule can I fit it in that will help me and not kill me? Maybe instead of 3-4 times a week, it’s 1-2. Maybe instead of an hour make it 30 minutes. Don’t quit altogether. Strength training will sustain you. Just be smart and aware of both your schedule and your body’s needs. Sirli puts it well, “Keep it simple. I know it is boring to do the same parallel, bodyweight exercises but now the focus is on maintaining strength and balancing a turned-out ballet workload. Fatiguing and adding weights is suitable for periods with a lighter workload.”
Don’t Over Do it After Hours
This goes along with strength training. Are you exhausted? Are you in pain? Do you have a heavy workload? Then is it really smart to book the studio from 18-20pm to work by yourself? Don’t forget that improvement can’t come when your body is broken. Make healthy and smart choices to the best of your ability. But, maybe, your workload is kinda intense, but to your surprise, you actually feel pretty good! Then go for it! Stay that extra hour. Why not. The point is to not blindly do something so you can check off a box, but do what you need and what your body can.
Pay Attention to Little Pains
“It’s fine…” you know when you ask a friend how they’re doing and they say “I’m fine” and you don’t really believe them. It’s kind of the same with dancers. If you are saying, “it hurts, but I’m fine”, just make a mental note to pay attention to that “it’s fine” pain. You actually might only need a massage and be good to go! But other times, especially at mid-season, when you’ve subconsciously adopted that pain as normal and are grinding through until winter break (if you have one), you might miss the warning signals that your body is sending you. Don’t be afraid to sit out one rehearsal, or pass on jumps to give your poor calf a chance to heal. As Sirli pointed out communication is key! “Everything begins with communication. No one can help you if they don’t know about the problem. Keep the medical and artistic staff informed about health issues, however ‘slight’ they might seem. It helps prevent serious injuries and to plan the workloads.”
Depending on where you live in the world, you may experience a lot of darkness and cold weather. You’re lying to yourself if you think the weather won’t/doesn’t affect your mood. But, there are many other things you can do to also affect your mood. Such as,
- Hanging out with your favorite people.
- Get out in nature as often as possible. (Fresh air even on a cloudy day will do wonders).
- Having a splurge day
- Finding new hobbies
- Spa days
- Game nights
- New outfits (no joke, nothing makes me want to go to class like a new leotard waiting for me)
- Become a regular at a coffee spot
- Hangout with people outside of your work circles
Or maybe it’s not the weather that’s affecting your mood, but the 1 millionth Nutcracker!! Maybe you’re on the verge of a little meltdown. You’re tired, you’ve been working hard 6 day weeks for 5 months straight, you feel underappreciated, or unmotivated, you crave a breakthrough, but feel stuck. Take a deep breath. Know that those feelings are very understandable. And then take the steps you need to feel better.
- See a physiologist.
- See a mindset coach.
- Talk to your close friends and family about it.
- Change up your routine.
- Listen to podcasts.
- Read some autobiographies about overcomers or watch a film. Feed yourself the inspiration you need.
Mid season maintenance is simply a lot of little, healthy habits making a big, helpful difference! Let’s be proactive in the way we work and live so that even in the toughest of mid seasons we can still thrive and enjoy what we do!