How do I know for sure how much is too much? I received this great question at "The Art of Active Rest" last March. This question reflects a real fear of injury that many dancers (and many active people!) have. Injuries are both physically and personally painful because they complete disrupt your ability to do the very thing you love most- dance. If we could know where the line is between just feeling pain and actually becoming injured, it would be much easier to actually prevent injury.
The bad news is that there is no rule, no hard and fast answer, that can protect you from injury. Each person and situation is different. Have you ever been perplexed by how someone can take great care of themselves and still be frequently sick or injured? Or have you known someone that seems to bounce back from just about anything? These disparities between actions and results can be confusing and frustrating.
The good news is that our body gives us clues to help us stay safe. If we listen carefully, we can take advantage of these clues to help us make a good judgement call about how to best take care of ourselves.
Here are a few signs that your body might need some help staying safe from potential injury:
1. Your are experiencing pain that is not improving or is gradually worsening over time (days, weeks, months).
2. You are experiencing a set back in your flexibility, strength, balance, or stamina even though you are dancing or exercising often or very intensely.
3. You are feeling uncomfortable or unsteady with specific movements that are usually not a problem for you.
4. The normal soreness you feel after dancing is worsening or lasting longer than usual.
5. You are at the end of a long day of classes and rehearsals and your ability to dance well is declining.
6. You are feeling aggravated, frustrated, or mentally and emotionally fatigued when it comes to dance or other exercise.
I encourage you to be honest and courageous as you evaluate your body's signals. It's very easy to accept these negative experiences as normal and expected in life and in dance. However, a reasonable expectation of normal is that these experiences come and go, NOT that they come and stay. Your time dancing should be mostly enjoyable, not mostly painful.
So, how do you know for sure how much is too much? The judgement call is yours, but I hope this answer will give you some helpful guidance. Rest assured that you are ahead of the game by even asking the question.
If you'd like to learn more about how to protect your body from injury and how to get the most out of your time and effort dancing, please join me for "The Art of Active Rest" on Wednesday, August 3, 2016. If you have more specific questions about your situation, please contact me at (847) 345-2246 to schedule a free consultation.