Your Body

Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.

Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.

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Your Body

Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."

That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.

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Your Body

Yoga has long been a cross-training favorite for dancers, thanks to the mind-body practice's power to increase flexibility, strength, and focus. But with thousands of yoga poses out there, how can you know which postures are the best use of your between-rehearsals time? DS asked Jennifer Brilliant, a Brooklyn, NY–based yoga teacher and yoga therapist, and former dancer with Jennifer Muller/The Works, which poses will serve your dancer body best.

Photos by Erin Baiano. Modeled by Rachel Knuth.

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Your Body
Thinkstock

Acupuncture has proven benefits for reducing pain and getting dancers back on their feet, but it's also a way to treat your overall well-being—in both mind and body. "Acupuncture works very holistically," says Cassandra Krug, licensed acupuncturist at the Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder, in Boulder, CO. "Even if you come in because of ankle pain, we're looking at your whole body. We're trying to return you to a place of homeostasis, or balance."

Peter Schmidt, a licensed acupuncturist who works with Pacific Northwest Ballet dancers, thinks that acupuncture—when combined with the work of dancer-friendly Western doctors, physical therapists, and orthopedists—results in a higher success rate for his patients. "Acupuncture can't address everything," he says. "But for things that are bothering you that don't show up on an X-ray or MRI, acupuncture could help." Is acupuncture right for you? We talked to the experts to find out what dancers should know before going under the needle.

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Your Body
Sara Mearns and Chase Finlay in Pontus Lidberg's "The Shimmering Asphalt" (via @saramearns on Instagram)

We've said it before and we'll say it again: New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns is some SERIOUS #goals. Her strength and power onstage borders on superhuman. But what's extra magical about Mearns is that she really puts in the fitness and cross-training work outside of the rehearsal studio. And she's overcome her fair share of injuries. Which is why she was the perfect source for Vogue's latest ballet fitness story.

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Your Body

At first glance, nutrition labels can seem like a foreign language or a tricky math problem—unless you've got a grip on the basics. And while it may be easier to just grab a snack when you're rushing to rehearsal, it's worth taking a closer look to know what you're getting out of your food. Dance Spirit asked Peggy Swistak, MS, RDN, CD, of Pacific Northwest Ballet, to highlight the most important components of a label, so you'll know what information to look for (and where to find it).

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Your Body
(Lucas Chilczuk)

There's nothing more distracting than a throbbing head, especially when you're dancing. Headaches can happen to anyone at any time, and while they're often treatable with over-the-counter remedies and some rest, it's important to know their common causes. Dance Spirit spoke with Rosalind Gendreau, RN, BSN, and director of Health Services at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, MA, for tips on treating and preventing headaches before they prevent you from dancing.

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Your Body

It's finally summer, which means you're probably spending as many long days outside in the sun as you are in the studio. You might think a quick mist of SPF 30 will do the trick, but there's a lot more to that number—and to sunscreen, in general. Here, we break down the sunscreen basics to keep your sunkissed skin safe.

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