Joyful Dance Laura Stanyer

Joyful Dance Laura Stanyer

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Importance of Warm Up and Cool Down in Dance Practice


It is essential to understand the importance of warm up and cool down to prevent injury and fatigue. It is important to be aware we are all unique and each of us responds to physical dance practice differently however fundamental training principles apply to everyone. It is essential that time is given to warm up and cool down as they will improve your physical ability and accelerate the recovery process after dance practice.

During dance practice or any physical activity performance your body has to work hard to adapt to higher levels of stress. It is important to warm up your body in preparation for the increased energy demands.  Also we focus the mind by using visualizations.

Why is it important to warm up for dance practice?
Warm up is very important it prepares the body for physical exertion, participating in fifteen minutes continuous movement that builds with intensity so you engage your cardiovascular system.

Dance warm up aims to:
  • Raise internal body temperature by 1 - 2 degrees
  • Increase heart rate and blood flow to the muscles
  • Mobilise joints to increase the synovial fluid
  • Raise speed of transmission of nerve impulses
  • Prepare mentally and physically for dance

What is included in a dance warm up?
In power dance practice the first part of our warm up engages in continuous rhythmical activity that raises the body temperature and increases blood supply to the working muscles and is dance based activity that is very simple and rhythmical until your body is warm.



Step 1 of a dance warm-up:

  • Simple rhythmical movements for 10 minutes
  • This raises internal body temperature 1 - 2 degrees
  • Increase heart rate and the blood flow to the muscles

We engage in mobilisations of the joints, small mobilisations gradually increase the range of motion; an example of this is shoulders rolls that build up to arm circles. We mobilise all the major joints that we are going to be using.

Step 2 of a dance warm-up:
  • Mobilisations of the joints
  • Gradually increase the range of motion
  • Increase the synovial fluid in the joints
Next we stretch using static stretches stretching the major muscle groups, hold each position for 10 seconds slowly breathe never feel pain and never bounce. Ideally we perform the stretch with each muscle group two or three times make sure we perform the stretch on both sides and the agonist and antagonist of each muscle group. These stretches are specifically designed for warm-up they are not there to increase your range of motion they are just there to prepare your body for the next section of your class, rehearsal or for performance.




Step 3 of a dance warm-up:
Gentle static stretches of major muscle groups
Hold the position for 10 minutes breathe naturally
Never bounce or feel any pain
Another part of a dance warm-up is practicing specific skills ready for the dance practice ahead we practice movement that will be a part of our dance practice.

What are the benefits of a dance warm-up?
The benefits for an effective power dance warm up; the body will be prepared for strength, speed and neuromuscular coordination, complex moves. Oxygen reaches your muscles more efficiently this enhances muscle contraction. It can prevent muscle soreness after your dance practice or physical activity. Warm up is designed to prevent the risk of injury and also prepares the mind and body to concentrate on the task ahead.

Benefits of an effective dance warm-up:
  • Prepares body for complex movements
  • Aids muscle contraction and relaxation
  • Can reduce muscle soreness
  • Prepares mind and body for dance
  • May minimise the risk of injury
In addition to the physiological effects, the warm up has the effect of preparing you psychologically by encouraging you to focus on the dance or physical activity to follow.


Why is it important to cool down after dance practice?
It is equally important to cool down after each practice. The body must make a number of adaptations during the recovery period before it returns to normal, and this does not happen immediately.

During vigorous physical activity the body''s systems are put through extreme stresses. This leads to an increase in body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. Your heart has been pumping blood around the body the muscles have been pumping the blood back to the heart if you suddenly stop the blood pools in the muscles this starves your heart and brain of blood supply and that is why you may feel lightheaded or dizzy.

The body also releases hormones such as adrenaline and endorphins into the circulatory system. If a dancer just stops after an intensive class, the high levels of adrenaline and endorphins can cause a feeling of restlessness and even a sleepless night.
Additionally, there is a build up of excess fluid and waste products in the muscles; this causes stiffness or soreness. These can be prevented by continuing to work the major muscle groups in a gentle, rhythmic fashion, gradually slowing down, bringing down your breathing rate and your heart rate back to a normal state, reversing the warm up process.

Due to the increase in tissue temperature straight after dance practice is an ideal time to stretch and improve or maintain joint range of movement and flexibility. Remobilise the major joint you have used and repeat your static passive stretches which you can hold for about 15 seconds each muscle group. Hopefully this will reduce the rick of injury and prevent muscle soreness. Ideally perform a cool-down straight after your activity before you have a shower, make sure you rehydrate drink water and put on layers of clothing on to keep warm. In power dance practice the cool down is choreographed as a part of the practice including massage and relaxation.

Cool down for dance practice includes:

  • Gradually reducing the intensity of activity for 10 minutes
  • Remobilise joints help to flush out waste products (Lactic Acid)
  • Perform static stretches of major muscle groups hold for 15 seconds normally performed on the floor (never bounce or feel pain)
Benefits of cool down in dance practice:
  • It decreases body temperature and remove waste products from the working muscles aids your recovery
  • It prevents symptoms such as light-headedness and dizziness caused by the pooling of venous blood at the extremities
  • It prevents muscle soreness and Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
  • It promotes relaxation
We participate in a cool down as a part of our dance practice, it is important to always make sure you rehydrate after physical exertion and wear warm dry clothing so you are encouraged to bring water and extra layers of clothing.  We also engage in massage to enhance recovery. 



Disclaimer: The information contained on this web page is intended as general guidance and information only. Laurastanyer accepts no liability for any loss, injury or damage however incurred as a consequence, whether directly or indirectly, of the use this information. All advice on this web page should only be used under the supervision of a qualified dance / fitness / healthcare professional.

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