You know that feeling: At 2 pm, like clockwork, your energy dips and your hunger spikes. The “midday slump” can be a busy dancer’s worst enemy. Luckily, you can avoid it by managing your hunger over the course of the day with strategic snacking. We broke down the best times to satisfy your hunger—and what to eat to keep you dancing.
It’s… 11 am
In order to maintain your energy through a busy day of school, class and rehearsal, you should ideally be eating every four hours. If your stomach’s grumbling a few hours after breakfast, grab something like cottage cheese, string cheese or yogurt—each is packed with protein that will give you a boost in energy and keep you feeling full until lunch.
It’s… 2 pm
If you’re heading to dance class, it’s important to eat something that will stabilize your energy, but won’t cause bloating or cramping. Snacking on something light with healthy carbohydrates—a granola bar or a handful of almonds—an hour before you dance will fight fatigue and keep you full without weighing you down.
It’s… 8 pm
You might think it’s best to ignore your post-dinner hunger pangs. But if you eat dinner more than four hours before you go to bed, it’s okay to have a small snack, like a piece
of whole-grain toast with slices of banana. They’re both loaded with magnesium, which will help you drift off faster.
Back to school means back to dance full-time. But while you might be excited to spend every evening in the studio, your body likely isn’t—and it’ll let you know with some killer soreness the next morning. When should you push through the achiness and when should you take it easy? Dance Spirit looked to Natalie Imrisek, MSPT, CSCS, for advice.
Know the Type
“Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) begins to develop 12 to 24 hours after an increase in physical activity, and resolves itself in around 72 hours,” Imrisek says. “Acute soreness, on the other hand, is immediate, often accompanied by sharp pains, tenderness and swelling,” Imrisek says.
Know the Treatment
“The best way to alleviate DOMS is by progressing slowly into your activity, as
opposed to jumping in all at once,” Imrisek says. Cross-training in your downtime is a great way to prime your body for a full dance schedule. But some soreness is inevitable, so Imrisek recommends sticking to the following routine: “A proper warm-up before class, followed by stretching, foam-rolling and massaging after, and an Epsom salts bath once you’re home.” DOMS will fade after a few days of consistent activity and attention, and you’ll be back in the swing of things before you know it. Acute soreness, combined with a loss of function, can signify injury, so if you suspect you’ve hurt yourself, Imrisek says, it’s best to stop dancing and seek medical advice rather than push through.
Did You Know?
Dancers are constantly cracking their joints—from toes to hips to backs—and doing so is generally harmless. But your neck is something you should never try to pop on your own, no matter how stiff it may feel. According to chiropractor Aaron Jorgensen, cracking your neck can harm your ligaments, nerves and spinal cord. It’s a super-sensitive area that should only be treated by a professional. So the next time you feel the urge to get that kink out of your neck, consult your doc.
(by Nathan Sayers)
Energy bars are one of the easiest snacks to toss in your dance bag, but it can be tough to find one with all the right ingredients. So why not make your own? We enlisted Marie Elena Scioscia, a registered dietician and sports nutritionist who works for The Ailey School, to help us find the perfect recipe. It’s time to invite your dance friends over and have a party in the kitchen!
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups uncooked quick oats
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tbsp wheat germ
1 cup (total) dried cranberries and blueberries, walnuts and dark chocolate chunks
Scioscia says: “I love this combination because it’s packed with antioxidants!”
In a small saucepan, mix honey and brown sugar. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and quickly add in peanut butter. In a bowl, mix the oats, cereal, flax seed and wheat germ. Pour honey mixture over the dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips, dried fruit and nuts. Press mixture into a 9”x13” pan that has been greased or lined with wax paper. Let cool and firm up. Cut into bars and store in an airtight container.
Scioscia says: “This recipe contains no saturated fat, preservatives or refined sugar. Plus, it has extra fiber and healthful oils from the ground flax seeds and peanut butter.”
Dance Yourself Happy
Feeling down in the dumps? Head to dance class! Researchers in a new Swedish study found that teenage girls who attend dance classes on a regular basis are happier and less likely to be depressed than girls who don’t dance. They even claim that stress, fatigue and headaches are alleviated by dance classes. The next time you’re dragging your feet on the way to rehearsal, remember there’s a good chance you’ll be leaving on cloud nine.
The Five-Second Myth
You’ve heard it a million times: It’s OK to eat food you’ve dropped on the floor if you snatch it up before five seconds have passed. But don’t do it! According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers at Clemson University found that bacteria were transferred from tabletops and floors to spilled food within five seconds, making it much too germy to eat.
Dread stepping into the cold weather after a long rehearsal? A new study in the journal Emotion found that people who think about a sentimental moment—like the time you nailed that tough Aurora variation—actually feel warmer.