By Cody Frank
After that day or days of eating delicious food last week, it’s time to get back to reality. I’m sure hitting the gym or working out has crossed several of your minds. Before you spring back into that workout, do not forget to warm up. Warming up is crucial to anyone’s work out and especially for you, a dancer. Many dancers and athletes skip the warm up because they are late, impatient, or believe it’s not worth their time. The importance of a warm up is essential to the dancer’s lifestyle. The purpose is to enhance performance and prevent injury. Many assume that a warm up is solitary physical, however it is an exercise for your mentality as well. It gives different parts of your physiology the time to arrange to work together.
After 5-10 minutes of exercises that constitute your warm up, your blood circulation increases to your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The additional blood flow increases your muscle temperature. Which causes the hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen) in your blood to release oxygen promptly. The added blood and oxygen to the working muscles creates better performance. Progressively your heart rate and respiration rate increases as well. Your tendons and ligaments become more flexible as your blood circulation increases which helps to prevent tears. Your muscles, tendons, and ligaments are lubricated like a bike chain so that they will run properly. The increased temperature assists in faster muscle contraction and relaxation. Thus muscle metabolism and nerve transmission is increased which produces muscle efficiency.
Mental preparation boosts your chances of surviving and profiting from the strenuous parts of exercise. Exercise is stressful, especially some dance classes. This demands a lot physical and mental strength. When you properly prepare your mind before a class you will improve your skill, technique, and coordination. Get that head ready for what’s to come after the warm up!
An important aspect is to remember that everyone’s body is different and everyone will need different exercises. A warm up is individualized depending on what you need. Try a couple of variations before you decide which warm up is best for you. It might depend on how you are feeling that day, if you have an injury, and what you are preparing for. Bear in mind that during the cold winter months your body will need a longer duration to warm up than in the hot summer days.
The next time you are on the fence about your warm up, recall that if you engage in it you’ll be able to dance freely, have full range of motion, and prevent injury. Lastly, by doing warm up, you’ll show to your choreographers, teachers, and directors that you care about your body and your career.