Dance class after care often gets overlooked. When you've completed your dance class or video, you feel you've achieved a lot. You want to celebrate.
But, you must take care of your body - it's just been put through a great deal.
There are just a few things that you need to be aware of that can greatly help you to recover from dancing and can make that high you feel after your class last as long as possible!
So here are the best dance class after care tips for keeping your dancer's body in top shape.
This is where dance class after care becomes an after thought...
You will find that most dance classes involve a warm up session to begin with.
But increasing numbers of dance classes don't have a cool down session at the end.
There is an enthusiastic debate about the merits of the cool down as we've previously mentioned. Here are a few highlights of the debate just to recap...
It is argued (by some teachers, physiotherapists and sports injury
specialists) that a cool down doesn't work particularly well. And
doesn't prevent soreness and cramp. They can't find scientific proof that a cool down helps.
It is argued by others (some teachers and most dancers) that if you don’t cool down by a series of gentle stretches at the end of your class, next day (and probably the day after that) will be agony.
You'll have to make up your own mind about this and listen to your own body.
If your class includes a cool down, all well and good. But if it doesn't and you get bad cramping and stiffness, then perhaps you should investigate doing a little bit of an impromptu cool down in the changing rooms before you leave the studio.
Our Cool Down section will show you exactly how and the clips and photo guide work really well.
And try them after a video class too, if there's no dance class after care advice on it.
This is a bit of an etiquette thing as well as common sense...
Don't walk home from your dance class in the shoes you've danced your lesson in.
Your feet are going to be hot and sweaty, so your dancing shoes need to be aired and you'll feel the benefit of putting on a different pair of shoes that are cooler than the ones you've danced your class in.
Also, dance studio floors should be respected - don't just walk in off the street and dance on them without changing your shoes.
Keep you dancing shoes for dancing only - change into them when you arrive for your class and out of them at the end.
Wrap up warm as soon as you have finished dancing.
Tempting though it may be to walk home in your tee-shirt because you feel so hot, you'll give yourself cramp and probably a cold.
Put on that jogging suit and get yourself to a hot shower asap.
Taking a few thin layers of clothing to a class is always a good idea, that way you can always put on or take off clothes to adjust your temperature.
Also, pinning your hair up can help as it keeps your hair off the back of your neck, and therefore helps to cool you down slightly.
The main key to good dance class after care is very simple; drink lots of plain water during and after your lesson.
For more vigorous classes, aim to drink at least a pint during and a pint soon after the class.
Yes, that sounds like a lot, but don't underestimate just how hard your body is working.
You need to replace those lost fluids to prevent dehydration.
Even mild dehydration can give you a bit of a headache and make you feel lethargic, so keep drinking that water.
And we do mean water.
Drinking alcohol, coffee or caffeine- laden drinks like cola soon after any dancing or exercise won't hydrate you very well and in fact could end up having the opposite effect by aggravating the dehydration.
So they could end up making you feel quite unwell.
Avoid coffee, cola and alcohol until you're sure your body has fully recovered from your dance class.
Just stick to plenty of fluids such as plain water, pure fruit juice or fruit and herbal teas.
If your dance class after care regime doesn't contain anything else, make sure it's this one tip you follow and keep your fluid levels up.
If you are hungry, have a light meal or snack.
Don't leap straight into a really heavy meal - it just won't go down very well.
Your system has enough to do as it recovers from exercise.
Don't give it even more to work at by stuffing down a huge portion of dinner.
Also, bear in mind that often when we feel hungry, we are actually just thirsty and a big glass of water will ease the hunger. Perhaps try that first, to see whether you are genuinely hungry.
So, the best advice is, after your dance class, water only and perhaps a piece of fruit if you really are ravenous.
Bananas are great as they are high in potassium which helps to prevent cramp (that is why you see the top tennis players eating bananas in between games).
Then wait (drinking water as much as you can) for at least an hour, preferably two, while your body returns to a resting state before you have a large meal, alcohol or coffee.
Good dance class after care is about what you do for many hours after your lesson - not just immediately afterwards.
And an often overlooked tip is to leave yourself rest time before bedtime if dancing in the evening.
The body can take a long time to return to its resting state after a bout of exercise - even if the dance class is very gentle.
And going straight to bed too soon after may give you a restless night.
So make sure there's enough time between dancing and bedtime to properly wind down.
Dance also alters your frame of mind as well as your body.
It is fantastically successful at switching off all the other chatter and clutter in your head and allowing you to focus on the dance alone.
You may find that if you go into a dance class stressed or with a mind bursting with noisy thoughts, by the time you're just a few minutes into the class, your brain is calm, quiet and clearer.
Thoughts that have been bothering you may fade, or by the end of a class, when you revisit a worry or concern that has been troubling you, you can view it in a calmer, clearer way.
So give yourself time to wind down and reflect mentally and emotionally after a class, and not just physically.
It works the other way too. If you've been feeling lacking in energy, sluggish and bored, a dance class can be just the thing to pep you up and get your motor running.
That's the beauty of dance.
It can be adapted to suit any body, any needs and any dreams.
If you've followed our dance class after care advice, you should be feeling wonderful, healthy and happy!
That brings us to the end of our series of dance tips. Now you just have to choose the style of dance you'd like to try and dive on in. Here are some of our most popular...