You may have heard that it's important to warmup before you dance. But perhaps you wonder why it's so necessary, and what exactly you can do to warm up properly before class. In this blog post, I'll delve into the benefits of a proper warm up. You can find out about how to warm up properly in a separate blog post.
Why you need to be able to do your own warmup for dance
It's important to note that most dance classes do include a warmup section. In a ballet class, the ballet barre prepares your body for the centre. In a jazz class, a follow along warmup is quite common, and it will have been designed by the teacher to prepare your body for what is to come in the class. In contemporary dance, it's the spinal and foot exercises that get your body ready.
So the question is, "if you have a warmup built into class, why do you need to do your own warmup routine?" There are two main answers to this questions:
1. Your individual needs are unique
The first is that the warmup provided by your teacher is a general warm-up designed to prepare the entire class. However, individual dancers may have specific needs and areas of tightness or tension that require extra attention. You may also have particular areas of your body that are susceptible to injury or need extra care. Doing a personal warm-up allows you to address these specific issues.
2. You may not always have someone to help you warm up
If you are participating in a dance rehearsal, a masterclass or workshop, or performance, you may not be given a warmup by a teacher, choreography or rehearsal director. In addition, if you are practicing outside of class, you will need to be able to warm up your body by yourself. It's therefore important for you to have the knowledge and routine to warm up by yourself.
Benefits of a proper warmup for dance routine
As an adult dancer, having the ability to do your own warmup routine will empower you to get teh most out of your dance activities and minimse your risk of injury. In addition, there are several other benefits that a proper warmup offers to improve your dance experience.
1. Increased blood flow and temperature
A well-designed warmup routine increases blood circulation throughout your body, ensuring that your muscles receive a rich supply of oxygen and nutrients. This elevated blood flow raises your body temperature, making your muscles more pliable and ready for the demands of dance. Improved blood flow also aids in the removal of metabolic waste products from your muscles, reducing the likelihood of cramping and muscle fatigue.
2. Improved flexibility and range of motion
Flexibility plays a crucial role in the execution of dance movements, allowing you to achieve beautiful lines, extensions, and graceful transitions. A proper warmup routine gradually increases your body's flexibility by gently stretching your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. As an adult dancer, you may find that warming up is particularly important to counteract the effects of aging, promoting joint mobility and maintaining or improving your range of motion.
3. Enhanced muscular performance:
Engaging in a warmup routine helps activate and engage your muscles effectively. By gradually increasing the intensity of movements during warmup exercises, you stimulate the neural pathways responsible for muscle contraction, improving their strength and coordination. This heightened muscular performance allows you to execute dance steps with greater control, precision, and power.
4. Injury prevention
Adult dancers are more susceptible to injuries due to factors such as decreased muscle elasticity, slower recovery times, and potential musculoskeletal imbalances. A thorough warmup routine can significantly reduce the risk of dance-related injuries. By increasing blood flow, raising body temperature, and improving flexibility, you enhance the elasticity and resilience of your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This prepares your body to handle the demands of dance movements, reducing the likelihood of strains, sprains, and other injuries.
5. Mental preparation and focus
A warmup routine not only prepares your body but also helps you mentally transition into the dance practice. As an adult dancer, you may juggle multiple responsibilities and have a busy lifestyle, making it important to create a mental space dedicated to your dance practice. Engaging in a warmup routine allows you to focus your attention, concentrate on your movements, and develop a mindful connection with your body and the art of dance.
Remember, as an adult dancer, it is crucial to listen to your body and customize your warmup routine to address your specific needs and limitations. Consult with a dance teacher or a healthcare professional to design a warmup routine that aligns with your goals and promotes safe and enjoyable dance practice. By investing time in a proper warmup routine, you set the stage for a fulfilling and injury-free dance experience as an adult dancer.
You can find out more about dance conditioning by reading our other blog posts on the topic. Even better, you can download our 23 page, illustrated ebook 'Strength, flexibility, and proprioception: an essential guide for adult dancers'.
If you'd like to bring a regular routine of stretching and strengthening into your dance week, consider signing up for Progressing Ballet Technique or Dance Stretch and Conditioning. Check out our timetable and choose a class that suits you.