Relief for the Dance-Stressed Body

Kiz Talks, Aug. 17, 2014

Many people come to social dancing from a non-athletic background. I am one such; I never played sports or bothered much with strenuous activity until I began dancing. That leaves us at a disadvantage in knowing how to take care of the new aches and pains that are often the result of long hours of dancing. I’d like to offer you a few things that I like to do before resorting to painkillers.

You probably already know you should stretch. It’s best to take care of stretching when your muscles are warm – which is to say, right after you’re done dancing. If you’re like me, that rarely happens, though. You sit down and get nice and stiff and then realize you should stretch. It’s not too late! Just move around a little before getting started. March in place, swing your arms, roll your ankles, and then start your stretching routine.

There are plenty of online resources to guide you through essential stretches, but I’ll offer one stretch I love in particular as a kizomba dancer. Especially when I teach body movement and spend most of a night following, my sacrum muscles (on either side of the base of the spine) get very tight. When I first started training regularly in kizomba, I suffered through lower back pain for more than a month before getting this handy tip:

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Turn your toes slightly inward, at about a 30 degree angle. Gradually bend over, allowing the weight of your torso to stretch your spine downward. Note – the goal is not to touch your feet or the floor! So don’t force a reach with your arms. Relax and go gradually. As you get to the lowest part of your stretch, you will feel the back of the pelvis open up, stretching the sacrum muscles. Rest in the stretch for as long as is comfortable for you. Then slowly roll back up the way you came. Your head will be the last thing to come up.

For overall soreness, nothing beats a hot bath. Add epsom salts for added relief. Sore back? Consider checking your dance posture! You might also want to do a little strength training, since holding your arms up for hours at a time does take some effort. If someone loves you enough to give you a foot massage, you’ve got it made! For the rest of us, a tennis ball is a wonderful tool. Stand on one foot (you may want to have a chair or something nearby to help your stability). Place the other foot on top of the tennis ball and roll it around slowly, applying firm pressure. Focus on the areas that you can feel need it most.

I’m sure there are plenty of you out there with insider tips on this topic. Feel free to share your ideas or helpful resources in the comments below!