Dancer’s bodies are elite instruments, tuned to a level of athletic perfection that celebrates the natural grace and poise of the human form. However, research continually shows that a surprisingly high number of dancers do not always have the optimum nutritional balance to keep their bodies healthy. Given that professional dancers have more concern with physical aesthetics than almost any other sport or pass-time, the findings of those studies are unlikely to raise many eyebrows.
Perhaps, though, they should.
This is because there is much more to the issue of nutrition than simply getting the right number of calories for optimum performance. For instance, nutrition is intimately linked to the risk of injury. We all know that choosing the right shoes can prevent injury, a design feature that here at Ray Rose we spend a lot of resources researching and developing, but nutrition can be just as vital.
The following examples are by no means an exhaustive list, and it is certainly recommended to seek professional advice to find your ideal nutritional balance. However, it goes some way towards showing how careful nutrition can be truly transformative.
Many people associate protein with body builders and shiver at the idea of gaining muscle mass. However, as any body builder will tell you, generating that level of muscle mass is far from easy. This is because bodies constantly use protein for a litany of vital functions. Protein depletes quickly, and needs to be replenished regularly. This is particularly the case for high-energy sports.
For dancers, taking care of protein intake is particularly important for long-term physical health. Good muscle strength supports joints and ligaments, protecting joints against a wide range of career-ending conditions, such as osteoarthritis.
To find the ideal protein balance, online protein calculators can help with the measurements, whilst menus can point you in the right dietary direction.
One of the most important vitamin families, B-vitamins undertake a wide variety of physiological roles. They unlock energy from cells, regulate the nervous system, and help the immune system. B-vitamin deficiencies can therefore be very serious, and range from depression to permanent nervous system damage.
Dancers are at risk simply because they use so much energy, which uses more B vitamins than a normal body. This means that it’s wise for professional dancers to double the recommended daily dose. This is perfectly safe to do, as unused B-vitamins are excreted harmlessly.
Before you practice, it’s a good idea to make sure that your body has enough fuel in the tank. The main fuel that the body uses is glucose, which is a type of sugar. Glucose is quickly turned into energy, which improves performance and reduces tiredness, but…
…for long training sessions, it’s best to combine this with soluble fibre. Soluble fibre stops carbohydrates from being transformed too quickly, which can lead to the well-known ‘carbohydrate crash’, formally termed reactive hypoglycemia. Soluble fibre – which you can find in pulses, nuts, and as supplements – effectively paces the release of glucose, allowing for longer and more intensive training sessions.
Almost every part of the body is reliant upon water. Importantly for athletes, one of its many roles is as a shock absorber for the brain, spinal cord, and joints. This means that the advice to stay hydrated when doing sport is about more than simply replenishing water lost through perspiration: it also helps to reduce injury.
It’s recommended that adult males consume an average of 3 litres per day, whilst women usually need about 2.2 litres. However, if you’re spending your day practicing the Tango, this amount won’t come close to being enough!
The Importance Of Diet
In a world where we all have a lot to do and even more to think about, nutrition can seem like an unnecessary headache. After all, if you’re dancing, you’re already likely to be incredibly fit and healthy. However, some dietary tweaking can have some astonishingly powerful benefits, particularly for dancing professionals.