Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Nutrition - Protein

It is essential when following a low calorie diet, as many dancers are, that nutrient intake is monitored and you ensure you are providing your body with adequate provision of carbs, protein and fat. Protein is an essential macronutrient that contributes to the formation and repair of muscle and other tissues. It is also required for metabolic processes, formation of antibodies making it crucial to the immune system, hormone synthesis, and even functioning as an energy source when carbohydrate and fat stores are depleted (i.e. in cases of starvation, exhaustion or extreme endurance exercise).

Dietary protein has additional benefits including increased feelings of satiety (making you feel fuller), higher thermic effect during metabolism than fats or carbs (meaning consumption of dietary protein may increase your metabolic rate) and increased protein turnover (regeneration of body tissue). Protein contains nitrogen, enabling it to form amino acids. There are 20 amino acids that the adult body needs, classified as either essential or non-essential amino acids. The 9 essential amino acids cannot be made in the body and therefore must be provided for through protein sources in our diet. So protein does one hell of a lot for us, and we need to ensure that even when controlling energy intake in low calorie diets, we are meeting our bodies' requirements.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Timetabling in full-time training

Dance schools, conservatoires and companies have a responsibility to care for the overall health and well-being of the dancers they work with. This means on top of technical training providing measures for injury prevention, fitness training, nutritional support, psychological support and a measured approach to workload. Training frequency and scheduling is often waylaid due to other concerns; timetabling tends to be based on what is convenient for studio space or teacher availability, rather than what makes the most sense for the dancers. Scheduling of training can have a significant effect on the dancer's performance and well-being and it is important that companies and schools recognise the implications of their timetabling.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Research Update: Warm Up & Stretching

A new study has been published in the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science looking at the effect of varying stretching protocols during warm-up on dance performance. Warm-up is a much neglected are of dance research and it's great to see work being conducted in this area.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Nutrition and Injury Recovery

I'm currently typing this one-handed, sitting banged up at home with my first serious injury in about 4 years. I dislocated my elbow at the start of the week and will be spending the foreseeable future in the world's least stylish full-arm cast and not lifting anything heavier than a teacup. Awesome. So it seems as good a time as any to discuss options for injury rehab, recovery nutrition and finding some way to not just bow down and give up for several weeks.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Dance Science Resources

Dance science is still very much in it's infancy and as such steady sources of reliable information - whether peer-reviewed research, journals, books, magazines or websites - can be hard to come by. As a dance educator, facilitator, choreographer, director, or artist, you have a duty of care to yourself and to those you work with, and the most important part of that is educating yourself.

Below is a short, non-exhaustive list of some of the most useful resources for reliable dance science information; some are dance-specific, others are more general in areas of sport, exercise or health but all are applicable and useful to those working within dance.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Improving jump height in dance training

Jump height is an area that I'll freely admit I largely neglected during my training years; my jetés didn't cause me particular problems and so I paid little attention to developing them. So more recently my training patterns changed, and after stopping performing I moved into training in martial arts. Within 2 months I could jump higher than I had ever been able to before, fast-forward 6 months and it's higher still. Now when I go back to dancing, my sautes, jetés and grand jetés are the highest they've ever been,  my leaps are more powerful and my elevation is significantly more impressive than it was when I was training and performing full-time. Since jump height is such a fundamental aspect of dance performance, serious provision for maximising it should be included within training. The fact that for it isn't provided for in various schools and companies makes little sense, when simple changes to training programmes are liable to elicit substantial gains.