It is as important to cool down after dance class as it is to warm up before. You might not realize it, but, as much fun as it is, dancing is a lot of exercise! To keep your body in shape after a long day of dancing, you can develop these simple habits.
Cool Down Exercises
The best cool down exercises are simple stretches that will loosen up your muscles after they have been working. Here are some easy stretches you can do after class:
Lie on your side, and pull the heel of your foot into the matching glute. When you do this, you should feel the front of your thigh stretching. Hold this for a few seconds, then switch. Lie on the other side and stretch the other leg.
Lie on your back, and lift one leg directly above hips (your leg should be straight). Hold your calf or thigh and imagine pushing your heel into the ceiling as you pull your leg back toward chest. Make sure to do this with both legs.
You can also use your warm up stretches to create your after-class cooldown routine. Make sure to choose stretches that stretch out your muscles gently. Remember, you aren’t preparing your muscles to do more work. You are preparing them to rest.
Take Care of Your Feet
Air Out Your Shoes
This is important even though it doesn’t directly affect your body after class. However, taking care of your dance shoes can prevent you from getting unnecessary foot injuries. To take care of your shoes, make sure to air them out, put them in a bag to prevent scuffing, and repair any part of your shoes that might be broken.
After Class Shoes
Don’t wear your dance shoes once class is done. Not only are they hot and sweaty, but many types of dance shoes also force your feet into uncomfortable positions. This is fine when you are dancing and working on your form, but after class, your feet need to rest! Make sure to bring extra shoes in your dance bag that are comfortable and allow your feet to relax.
Attend to Any Injuries
After class, you might find that your feet have developed scrapes, scratches, blisters, bruises, or any number of other dance-related injuries. Make sure to take care of all of your injuries even if you are just applying a bandage to a blister! You don’t want them to get worse (or beyond that infected!) and cause issues for you later.
Food and Water
In case you didn’t know, eating is exercise. It isn’t like dancing or jogging, but it does require energy and effort for your body to eat and digest food. So, if your body is in the process of recovering from the heavy exercise you do during dance class, you don’t want to eat a big meal and give it more work to do!
After dance class, eat a light, healthy snack like a banana or a granola bar.
Water, Water, Water
You probably already know that you need to stay hydrated when you exercise, but it is just as important to hydrate with the right things as it is to hydrate at all. The best way to rehydrate after dance class is to drink water, but if you want to drink something else, try to dink healthy liquids like fruit juices. Drinking unhealthy things like soda and other high caffeine drinks can aggravate your dehydration.
After dance class, you will need to give your body a break. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go to bed after every class though. All you need to do is relax. Exercising uses energy, but it also energizes you. Because of this, if you try to go to sleep right after class, you might find it difficult or even impossible. So, kick back, watch your favorite show, and relax!
Taking care of your body after dance class is an important but often overlooked part of class, but it is as easy as adding some extra stretches and a few careful decisions to your dance routine! Develop your perfect dance class cooldown habits. You body will thank you.