Dancers, in general, have great cardio fitness and good stamina. Dancers who participate in partnered dancing, including most ballroom and Latin dances, salsa, bachata, and most swing dances, can experience uneven muscle balance and repetitive use injuries.
Darin Larsen is a passionate dancer, excelling in the fields of collegiate shag and lindy hop, but with experience in a variety of other dances. She knows how to help dancers work on weak spots, balance out uneven muscles, and build up assistive muscles to avoid injury not just through her own experience, but through education as well. Darin has a degree in biology as well as many personal training certifications. Training with Darin can help dancers avoid injury, improve stamina, and increase performance.
Common Dancer Injuries
Before we talk about preventing injury, what kinds of injuries happen to dancers?
Dancers are prone to lower-body injuries, including injuries to feet, ankles, and knees. Specifically, dancers experience high rates of:
Shoulder and arm injuries may also occur, as well as back injuries. Back injuries and upper body injuries can increase dramatically with the introduction of lifts.
General Injury Prevention For Dancers
Dancers can take many safety measures before hitting the floor, starting with choosing the right shoes for the floor. Shoes that are too slick and lead to accidental slides and muscle strain or tears. Shoes that are too grippy can force dancers to work harder during spins, leading to twisted ankles and knees.
In the short-term, stretching or a warm-up can be helpful in preparing muscles for the work they’re about to do. And a dancer is safest when they’re well-hydrated and not under the influence of alcohol. Many venues depend on drink sales, however, so try to moderate drinking and dancing.
Cross Training for Dancers
Long-term, many dancers want to both improve their performance and prevent injury. Drills and repetition are great for learning moves, and cross-training can take performance to the next level.
In addition to doing the moves, dancers want to have endurance to enjoy multiple songs in a row, or the full version of “Sing, Sing, Sing.” Partner dance is great for sprint training - we put all our energy into a 3-5 minute song. But it’s not great for multiple songs in a row.
Other cardio activities force us to extend that period of activity to half an hour or an hour. Darin will set a cardio goal for you, usually measured in miles over the course of the week, which may include one of the following exercises:
Usually, you’ll do this independently, outside of your training hours with Darin.
The connection between strength training or weightlifting and dance may not be apparent at first. But training your muscles can increase your performance, reduce pain, and minimize injury.
As you train, your muscles will get firmer and stronger. For dancers, training muscles in the hips and legs will definitely be a priority. Stronger muscles will better support your body. Specific exercises can help even out muscle imbalance.
Core Training For Dancers
But the focus won’t just be on the lower body. Dancers need a strong core, so back and ab work is a must. A stronger core helps dancers keep their balance, and can lead to a better connection between lead and follow.
A stronger core is easier to engage and control, and that control can be especially helpful in dances like collegiate shag or west coast swing.
A solid core also can make aerials less challenging. Many aerials rely on one person, usually the lead, being stable to the other can leverage them for height. A weak core means that the lead has to work harder to be stable for their partner. A stronger core gives the follow stability that they can rely on. In the case of lifts, where a lead picks up their partner, a strong core can protect the lead from injury or collapse.
Drills and practice are great for improving your specific footwork and dance ability. To take your dancing to the next level, broader training for dancers can help your endurance, strength, and connection to your partner.
Training for dancers can also reduce injury and pain. Building up weak muscles and balancing out the body can reduce impact and increase balance. Targeting specific areas can improve functionality and minimize pain.
Are you ready to take your training to the next level? Book your free introductory session with Darin today!