Let’s face it, ballroom uses a lot of muscles that you don’t usually use. I’ve never been so aware of the little muscles in my feet until I was doing two hours of rumba in 3″ heels. As I’ve increased the amount of time a week I spend dancing (currently 8-10 hours a week), I’ve added new things to my wellness regiment to keep my body working it’s best.
Foam rolling: If you only pick one thing from this list, I highly recommend foam rolling! I had seen people foam rolling at the gym, but wasn’t really sure what to do until I went to a dance camp hosted by Henry Byalikov (former DWTS troupe) a few years ago and he did a session on foam rolling. Now I foam roll at least twice a week and have seen a world of difference. Sometimes you don’t realize how tight your muscles are until you hop on a foam roller. If you foam roll after doing a lot of dancing, your legs won’t be as sore the next day. The best way to sum up foam rolling is “it hurts so good.” It is a form of myofascial release, just like you would get from a deep tissue massage, but at a fraction of the cost.
Electrolyte tablets: Over the summer I stretched in my sleep and felt my calf muscle seize up in a horrible Charlie horse. The pain lasted for days and I could barely go up in releve despite a showcase performance just a week away. Other than having a demanding dance week, I couldn’t figure out what caused it because I drink plenty of water and usually stretch before dancing. That prompted me to go to a nutrition store and I ended up buying electrolyte tablets (same perks as Gatorade, but without the sugar). I’ve been taking 1 or 2 tablets after workouts/dancing for months now and haven’t had any more muscle cramps. The tablets coupled with foam rolling helps me recover fast and keep dancing my best.
Epsom salts: I bought these bath salts from the Dead Sea that my pilates instructor raves about. You just throw a handful or two in a warm bath for temporary relief from “aches & pains, stress, and muscle tension.” It’s also said to promote healthy circulation and a strong immune system. This isn’t part of my weekly regiment, but I throw it in occasionally. More often, when my feet are sore and swollen from dance, I’ll come right home and put my feet in an ice bath for five minutes.
Foot massager: Remember how I said dance can make you hyper aware of the little muscles in your feet? I bought this Gaiam foot roller from Target. This may sound weird, but I feel more grounded and balanced after using it. Some other dancers I know use the Melt Method foot balls. A set comes with eight balls in different sizes and harness that you roll under different areas of the feet and slowly step on to release muscle tension.
Hopefully incorporating some of these into your routine will help your body feel better too!