Summer Intensive Survival Guide

Summer is around the corner and recitals, rehearsals, and competitions are winding down. The school year is ending and dancers everywhere are preparing for summer intensives, classes, workshops, etc. Typically over the summer, many dancers increase the number of days per week and hours per day they are dancing… hence the word “intensive.”

 

In order to get the most out of your summer intensive, here are some tips to get you prepared:

 

  • Try to gradually increase the amount of dance classes you are taking per day or per week. For example, going from five 1.5hr classes per week to 8-10hours of dancing per day can lead to muscle fatigue impacting technique in class and ultimately lead to injury.  Even if you have to take a few classes below your level, it can help increase your stamina and help prepare you for the workload of your summer intensive. Taking multiple genres of dance classes can be helpful as well!

 

  • Another great option would be to partake in cross-training. Try to find either a class or, better yet, private coaching that can work on improving strength, alignment, and flexibility which will ultimately compliment your dance classes to help ensure you are maintaining optimal technique. This can decrease your risk of injury.  Also, make sure cardio is included to increase your endurance with higher workloads.

 

  • Get in the habit of incorporating a good warm-up. Often dancers think static stretching is enough to warm-up before class. The truth is, a good warm-up incorporates dynamic movement. This means, you need to get moving in order to properly and truly warm-up. A good warm-up ensures your body will be ready to get the most benefit out of your classes and it will decrease your risk for injury. Save the static stretching for after class, or at least after your warm-up.

 

  • Make sure you get plenty of rest. Although it may be tempting to stay up late with friends, it is essential that you get plenty of sleep before trying to tackle a full day of dancing.

 

  • Stay hydrated and maintain a balanced diet. Proper hydration and nutrition also play a large part in how well you will be able to perform in class.

 

Follow these tips and you will be well prepared for tackling your summer intensive. Summer intensive programs are wonderful experiences. Have fun and soak in all of the knowledge, perspective, and opportunities presented!

 

Are Dance Private Lessons/Coaching Sessions Worth It?

As a ballet teacher and coach for dancers, I find private lessons are often the most rewarding to teach.  In a group setting, corrections should always be given and explained. However, 100% of the teacher’s attention has to be split between the number of students in that class. In a private lesson, 100% of the teacher’s attention is on the individual student. Private dance lessons should always be tailored to the individual dancer. When teaching a private lesson or private coaching session, I always focus specifically on what the dancer needs, what the dancer is having difficulty with in class, and whatever the dancer has as a personal goal.


Benefits:

Faster progress. Since these lessons and sessions are tailored to the individual dancer, more time can be spent on specific corrections that dancer may need to progress to the next level or reach his/her personal goals.

Decreased risk of injury. One-on-one attention should involve breaking down combinations and dance steps to emphasize technique and proper body placement/alignment. Generally speaking, this emphasis on improving technique will carry over to class work which is often fast paced. This will decrease the likelihood that a dancer will perform with faulty technique which is often a source of injury.

Variety. Taking private lessons from different instructors provides a variety of corrections and allows different perspectives. It will help the dancer become versatile and increase the dancer’s ability to take and apply corrections in a variety of different settings. The dancer may also find instructors that explain corrections and movements in a manner that the dancer better understands and can apply easier.

 


Other considerations:

What are the dancer’s future goals? This can apply to long-term or short-term goals. Does the dancer have career goals? If so, private lessons can be the fundamental stepping stone to reach that goal.  If the dancer does not have dance career goals, private lessons are beneficial in the short-term (for example: preparing for summer intensives, competitions, auditions, performances/shows).

The dancer’s love of dancing.  Some dancers partake in classes, shows, competitions solely for the socialization. This is absolutely fine. However, some dancers truly and honestly love the art and cannot get enough dancing. For these dancers, private lessons can be a way to allow them increased time to perfect their dancing and to allow them that creative outlet.

Price. A  lot of times, it all comes down to price. There is such a wide range of prices for private lessons depending on a variety of factors. If interested in private lessons, the best option would be to inquire.

Skating Balance and Stability Training

Skating is a technique that is learned and practiced starting at a very young age. As you progress through your hockey career, don’t forget off ice training. To become a better skater you must train your bodies 3 feedback systems: vestibular, proprioception, and visual.

Vestibular System:

The vestibular system is made up of 3 semi-circular canals inside you ears that are filled with fluid. The combination of fluid movement is what keeps us feeling “level”.  After a concussion this system is usually compromised and typically requires appropriate intervention to return to normal.

Proprioception:

Our body has receptors in our muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. These receptors give us feedback of where our body is in space.

Visual System:

The visual systems plays a LARGE role in our stability and balance and we rely on it heavily with all daily activities and during sports. For example, stand on one leg…..EASY. Now, perform that same task with your eyes closed. Not as easy! Ours eyes constantly track and respond to our ever-changing environment.  When training, the more we challenge this system the more adaptable it can be when we need it during quick direction changes during sports.  This is the system we typically over-rely on.

Put it all together:
All 3 of our systems (vestibular, proprioception, visual system) work in a delicate balance to keep us balanced and stable.

If you would like a balance assessment to improve your daily life or sports performance contact me at Katie@toledophysicaltherapy.com.

Whole Body Mindset in Hockey

Building overall fitness enhances hockey-specific training gains. Fitness can be improved with increased flexibility, proper nutrition, decreased body fat, increased strength and muscle mass, and elevated aerobic power. Hockey season is long! Performing well in all of these categories is important to success.

Athleticism builds on fitness. Putting the athlete more in tune with their body will help develop better movement. Just as power-skating coaches modify body mechanics on ice, a focus on athleticism improves body function off the ice. The best athletes make the best hockey players. The higher their fitness and athleticism, the more they can capitalize on hockey-specific training (Peter Twist). This thought process then leads to the question: What can a Physical Therapist can do to help enhance your hockey skills and performance?

A Physical Therapist (PT) is educated to look at the body as a whole with focus on flexibility, strength, range of motion and gait. PTs observe how the body moves and look for dysfunction to help prevent injury. It is a misconception that physical therapy is only utilized after an injury. The best rehabilitation happens prior to an injury to prevent it from happening in the first place. An assessment of the whole body will allow a PT to be able to develop a plan for an athlete to help reduce injury and enhance their sport performance. We plan ahead for retirement with a 401K, why not plan ahead to keep your body healthy all season long by preventing injury and investing in your overall fitness through a physical therapy assessment.