Taking care of your body is crucial for a long run of shows. Whether it’s Met Season or a 30 shows of Nutcracker, performing constantly can wreak havoc on your body. All of the extra adrenaline makes you feel invincible, and it’s easy to unconsciously overexert yourself or push through injuries too much. It’s easy to be tempted to just shower and go to bed after a long day of performing. However, properly restoring your body to be ready for the next day of shows is worth the extra effort. I have developed a routine that makes the process a lot easier to stick to (although, I will admit that it is certainly tempting to skip this whole process after a double show day) and I notice a huge difference the next day if I complete my routine in its entirety:
- First thing after I wash my makeup off after the show, I drink a serving of Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator in the Apple Berry flavor mixed with water: It’s not the tastiest concoction, but I’ve really noticed a difference since taking it. According to the website, “This innovative blend is specifically selected to replenish energy and electrolytes, reduce inflammation, as well as muscle and joint pain, support immune function, initiate protein synthesis, and reduce recovery time between training.” It also tides me over until I can prepare dinner when I get home. Immediately after a show, I also drink as much water as possible. I often get dehydrated while performing because I don’t like to drink a ton and feel it swish around in my stomach while I’m dancing. That’s why it’s imperative to replenish afterwards. Especially because Colorado is at a high altitude, I find muscles cramping more frequently if I don’t hydrate enough.
- Prepare a balanced meal: Sometimes I’m ravenous after a performance, and sometimes I don’t feel hungry at all. Either way, I make sure to at least eat a healthy snack or balanced meal. Otherwise, I’ll sleep poorly or wake up in the middle of the night starving. Additionally, eating a balanced meal is essential in order to build muscles. After strenuous activity, it’s important to supply your body with the correct nutrients in order to repair, rebuild, and adapt to the stress that your muscles have endured during activity. I make sure I include unrefined carbohydrates, healthy fat, and plenty of protein. Check out my blog (www.healthyballerina.org) for tons of healthy meal ideas and sports nutrition advice.
- Put my feet in an ice bath for feet 20 minutes while eating dinner and watching something on Netflix: I find that watching something mind numbing or comical is the best way to wind down after a show. If I still want to watch some more TV after my ice bath, I’ll put my feet up on a stack of pillows in order to help with swelling.
- Hot shower
- Light stretching and roll out major muscles on a foam roller (quads, IT band, hamstrings, calves)
- Read a book in bed while icing whatever else needs to be iced (that didn’t get iced already in the ice bath)
- Put on calf compression sleeves
- Sleep: This is probably the most important component of my post performance routine. The repairing of muscles and other tissues, as well of the replacement of dead cells occurs during sleep. Sleep enhances muscular recovery through protein synthesis and human growth hormone release. The brain is also recharged during this time. Restoring brain function promotes more mental alertness for the next day.