Getty Images

5 Wellness Trends Decoded for Dancers

These days, the wellness industry knows no bounds. Whether it's speeding up injury recovery or calming audition-related anxiety, trendy wellness practices promise remedies for all kinds of dancer ailments. But are these treatments effective—or safe for dancers? Here's what you should know about five popular wellness trends before getting your goop on.


Infrared Saunas

Interior of an infrared sauna, with glowing red lights

Getty Images

Infrared saunas, which use dry heat and light color therapy, promise a host of benefits, including detoxification, improved immunity, pain relief, and stress reduction. "The basic principle of infrared is that you're using a light spectrum instead of heat, and the light spectrum creates heat within the body without it being unbearably hot in the room," says former dancer, certified athletic trainer, and acupuncturist Megan Richardson.

There isn't much research to support all of the alleged benefits. While light therapy supposedly "detoxes" deep levels of tissue, "I don't know if your skin is doing that much detoxing—that's not its purpose," said Richardson. That said, infrared saunas might help dancers relax and ease their muscle and joint pain recovery.

Vitamin IV Drips

An IV bag with drip on a blurred background

Getty Images

Intravenous therapy is a staple in hospitals, but "drip bars" brand themselves as cures for dehydration and jet lag, with a bonus instant healthy glow. "IVs on demand" make house calls, and usually cost $155-185 per "vitamin cocktail."

For most dancers, vitamin IV drips probably aren't a great idea. Richardson cautions that piercing blood vessels with external instruments puts dancers at risk of infection. Plus, she notes, a high dosage of vitamins can be toxic. Richardson frames IV therapy as appropriate only for dancers with gut absorption issues, which must be diagnosed by a doctor.

Tuning Fork Therapy

Hands holding a tuning fork and rubber puck for tuning fork therapy

In tuning fork therapy, tuning forks are tapped and their vibrations are applied to the body to improve circulation in certain targeted areas. Often paired with massage or acupuncture, tuning forks could be helpful for dancers who are "unconsciously but actively holding tension in their muscles," Richardson says. "I do believe in sound therapy. There are certain frequencies that are supposed to be a little bit more aligned to nature and to our body." And there's little chance that the relatively gentle vibrations will do your dancing body any harm.

Adaptogens

Adaptogen herbs arranged in a circle

Getty Images

Adaptogens—edible herbs that help the body resist and recover from physical and mental stress—are part of both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicinal traditions. Commonly used adaptogens include ginseng, turmeric, ashwaganda, rhiodolia, schisandra, and reishi. And there is some evidence to back up their effectiveness.

Richardson says dancers can try adaptogens for 30 days if they're eating and sleeping properly and yet "their tank feels empty." However, "We shouldn't be living on adaptogens," she cautions. The goal is to create and maintain balance.

Breathwork

A woman sits outdoors and takes a deep breath

Getty Images

Breathwork involves using conscious breath patterns that direct the brain to adjust the release of stress hormones like cortisol. The practice is believed to reduce anxiety, increase alertness, and boost the immune system. "We know that when we're in pain, for example, we change our breath patterns," Richardson says.

Richardson highly recommends breathwork to improve dance performance, injury recovery, digestion, and even sleep. It's free and accessible, and beginners can start with podcasts and YouTube for guidance. "I think breathwork is incredibly powerful because it's one of the only ways we can control our autonomic nervous system," Richardson says.

Latest Posts


Viktorina Kapitonova in "Swan Lake Bath Ballet" (photo by Ryan Capstick, courtesy Corey Baker Dance)

Please Enjoy the Quarantine Genius of “Swan Lake Bath Ballet”

That old saying about limitations breeding creativity—hat tip to Orson Welles—has never felt more relevant than in these lockdown days. Here's the latest brilliant dance project born (hatched?) of quarantine restrictions: "Swan Lake Bath Ballet," a contemporary take on the classic featuring 27 A-list ballet dancers performing from their own bathtubs.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Project 21 dancers (from left) Selena Hamilton, Gracyn French, and Dyllan Blackburn (Photo by Quinn Wharton; hair and makeup throughout by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc.)

How Project 21 Is Shaping the Next Generation of Competition-Dance Standouts

"I wish I had a better story about the name," says Molly Long, founder of the Orange County, CA–based dance studio Project 21. In truth, it's a play on the fact that she was born on the twenty-first of August, and 21 is her favorite number. "I was away on a teaching tour, the audition announcement was going live on Instagram the next day, and I desperately needed a name. Project 21 was just the least cheesy of the options I thought of!"

The fact that fans might expect the name to have some profound meaning speaks to the near-mythic status Project 21 has achieved on the competition and convention scene since its founding in 2014. Long's dancers are all wholly individual, yet jell seamlessly as a group, and are consistently snagging top prizes everywhere on the circuit. Each season brings a slew of new accolades, high-caliber faculty, and legions of devoted followers.

The industry has taken notice of the studio's unique ethos. "Molly gets through to her dancers in a special way, and they have this incomparable level of commitment to their craft as a result," says dancer and choreographer Billy Bell, who's worked closely with Long and her dancers. "That's what sets them apart—it's like a little dose of magic."

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search