Self-Care in Dance: Balancing Well-Being at the Studio

Self-Care in Dance: Balancing Well-Being at the Studio

Self-Care in Dance: Balancing Well-Being at the Studio

Dance is more than a simple hobby. For some, it’s a lifelong passion, a competitive sport, or even their job. Although dance is extremely fulfilling, it’s also a complex landscape filled with challenges that dancers must navigate. Alongside paying for classes, traveling to competitions, or instructing dance classes, regularly practicing self-care emerges as an obstacle that dancers have to face.

In this guide, we’ll cover why self-care is essential for dancers and the different ways they can meaningfully perform self-care. With the right strategies, you can ensure that your passion for dance never fades, allowing you to continue this exercise and art form for a long time.

Why Self-Care in Dance is Essential

One of the great things about dance is that it’s extremely flexible—there are thousands of styles of dance that you can approach with varying levels of intensity and difficulty, ranging from beginner hip-hop classes to elite ballet training.

However, as you become more involved in dance, you become more susceptible to physical injury.

Consider these statistics from Active & Safe Central, an organization dedicated to providing information on common injuries and risk factors for physical activities:

  • 75% of injuries among non-professional dancers are due to overuse.
  • Overuse injuries are reported by 64% of female professional dancers and 50% of professional male dancers.
  • Young dancers sustain 0.77-1.55 injuries per 1,000 hours of dance.

Research from other studies also indicates that 80% of professional dancers experience at least one injury a year, and dancers overall have an average of 3.2 injuries a year.

In addition to injuries sustained due to dance, dancers are also susceptible to mental and emotional stress. While many dancers use the activity as a form of self-care and revitalizing for the mind and soul, others may develop negative feelings toward dance, especially those for whom dance is a career. Even passion is not enough—87% of business professionals report having passion for their job, yet 64% say that they are frequently stressed.

When you add all these factors together, it’s clear that dance, like any other hobby or profession, can lead to negative outcomes. That’s why self-care is so important—it’s necessary to combat these outcomes and provide a better, longer dancing experience.

Now that you know why self-care is important, let’s take a look at a few ways dancers can perform self-care for themselves:

Physical Self-Care for Dancers

Dancing can be hard on the body, especially if you’re regularly doing it for long periods. Here are a few ways to keep your body in tip-top shape for dancing:

  • Warm-up and cool-down routines. Warm up by stretching and then performing some basic dance moves, slowly ramping up intensity. After dancing, cool down by focusing on stretches that allow your muscles to return to their resting state, preventing soreness and cramping.
  • Stay hydrated and well-fed. Dancing (especially some forms like zumba or dance workouts) can be extremely intense, taking up a lot of energy. Make sure you’re in good shape to start and keep dancing by eating enough throughout the day and staying hydrated during the session.
  • Give yourself time to rest. Even if you’re practicing for a competition, your body still needs rest to operate at its peak. Take breaks throughout your lesson or practice session and be sure to space out your dancing days so you don’t overexert yourself.
  • Research best practices for technique. Dance technique is not just tradition—it’s also often beneficial for your physical health to perform specific moves correctly. Take the time to research dance techniques, including discussing with your instructor if necessary. In particular, dancers are susceptible to injuries to ankles and feet, so be sure to ask about ankle and foot support.
  • Manage any pain or discomfort. If you strain or overwork yourself, you may feel pain or discomfort from cramps or injuries. Manage any discomfort you feel by using cold packs on the area, compressing any swelling, or even visiting a massage practice for sports massage therapy.

  • In terms of physical self-care in dance, it’s always better to take steps to prevent injury rather than treat an injury after it happens. However, if you do injure yourself, make sure to seek medical care promptly. If the injury isn’t severe, you may be able to treat it at home or seek the help of a massage therapist. According to MassageBook, massage therapists will carefully note your injuries and create a care plan that suits your needs.

    Mental and Emotional Dance Self-Care

    Dance can also take a toll mentally and emotionally, especially for those struggling to embrace failure or those with self-confidence issues. To care for yourself mentally and emotionally, use the following techniques:

    • Cultivate a positive mindset through positive self-talk and mindful gratitude
    • Use stress management strategies, such as journaling, spending time with peers, and meditation
    • Seek support when necessary from family, friends, or even your instructor

    Don’t forget to make space for other hobbies and personal time. No matter how much you enjoy dance, it shouldn’t consume your every waking moment, as that’s a surefire way to burn out and lose your passion. “More is better” is a common myth in the dance industry—instead of measuring your dance success by the amount of time you spend dancing, shift your focus to your mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

    How Teachers, Professionals, and Studio Owners Can Help

    If you’re a teacher, professional, or dance studio owner, there are ways you can empower the dancers in your community to prioritize their well-being. Here are a few strategies to help you do that:

  • Foster a positive environment. Make all dancers feel welcome regardless of skill level and the amount of time they spend dancing. You want your studio to be inclusive and welcoming to all who attend.
  • Provide resources on self-care practices. Put up posters and provide pamphlets about correct dancing techniques, mental health support groups, and other self-care practices for dancers.
  • Partner with wellness businesses. Create relationships with other local businesses that deal with self-care, such as massage practices. In exchange for referring your studio’s dancers to these businesses, they may be willing to give you a massage billing discount on their services.

  • Aside from empowering your dancers to seek self-care, you should also keep your mental and physical well-being in mind as well. For dance teachers and dance studio owners, this may mean reducing your workload. DanceStudio-Pro recommends investing in software that will help you manage all aspects of your business, from tuition and payment processing to sending alerts and reminders to dancers.

    Self-care is crucial for dancers who want to keep dancing for a long time. Always stay on the lookout for new beneficial self-care strategies, and stay mindful of how you’re feeling toward dance, both physically and emotionally. And, don’t be scared to invest in tools that help you care for yourself—check out our compression socks for greater arch support and ankle stability!


    *Kyle Cannon

    Kyle is the product evangelist at MassageBook. He's spent the past 8+ years developing a deep understanding of the joys and struggles massage therapists face daily, and he's committed to helping them simplify and grow their practices every step of the way.


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