Warming Up and Cooling Down to Keep Injury Free
By Brian Jones and Tania Huddart
This DANZ resource focuses on how social and recreational dancers can prepare themselves for dance and prevent injury. While it is aimed at the recreational dance sector, it is good basic information for all dancers. Following this introduction you will find Quick Tips by Brian Jones and then a Comprehensive Guide to Warm Up and Cool Down by Tania Huddart.
DANZ hopes this resource will help spread the word about good dance practice - what a good basic warm up is, why it should always be done before dancing and how to cool down. It is your responsibility to warm up and cool down for dance if the teacher does not take you through the process. We encourage teachers to promote this resource in their studios and classes so there is less potential for injury when people dance.
Background – Injury Prevention
Dance is a highly popular physical activity in New Zealand - the 7th most popular recreational activity for all, so it is to be expected that as it grows in popularity we also have more injuries. However as ACC have said, the positive benefit of strengthening, fitness, core body strength and better balance which comes from dance, far outweighs the injuries. But all dancers, at whatever level they engage, need to warm up and cool down and ensure they are fit and strong enough to dance in the particular style they choose.
Given that much of our dance happens in the evening, after a hard day at work, when people may be cold, have stiff muscles and are tired, the risk of injury is increased. Too often people begin their dance session with no preparation. Another common problem is when people begin their dance session with severe stretching without warming up the body. This increases the risk of injury and is not good practice. The warm up is also a time for you to tune your mind and body into dance and leave behind the grind of the day.
"Warm muscles are more flexible than cold ones and you will be less likely to sustain an injury. Cold muscles are less flexible and injure more easily. Cold muscles and tiredness together is a recipe for injury!" Tania Huddart.
Warm up is essential for ALL dancers on all dance occasions (rehearsal, class, practice, and performance) to prepare for dance, both mentally and physically, and to prevent injury. This applies to all styles of dance.
Simple warm up and preparation guide
- Stretch and flex feet
- Rise and lower on the balls of your feet
- Transfer your weight from one foot to the other, with soft slightly bent knees
- March briskly on the spot, moving your arms as well
- Leg swings or knee lifts front and behind
- Shrug and roll shoulders
- Turn your head gently from side to side
- Roll the body forwards down the spine, starting with the head, and roll up again
- Jog on the spot
Stability and Balance
- Engage your abdominals when moving to help balance and strength
- To naturally incorporate breathing into your movement, breathe in as you lift your arms or
body and breathe out as you lower
Simple Cool down
- Walk, jog or move the body gently for 2 minutes
- Follow with up to 5 minutes of gentle stretching
The following articles give more detail on dance preparation. Enjoy your dancing!
Download the full resource Comprehensive Guide to Warm Up and Cool Down for Dance
Copyright © 2011 Dance Aotearoa New Zealand