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Recovery - just as important as the workout

Regardless of what you're training for - it's so important that you focus not only on your goal, but also on recovery. This is essential to avoid injury and over-training. I had a goal in mind this year. To perform in The Nutcracker again as the Sugar Plum Fairy. It's no easy task - but after what I just went through battling cancer - this was cake! I trained hard when I was cleared by my doctors to workout again. I got into as many ballet classes as I could juggle, cross-trained on the bike, lifted weights, ensured I was mobile and stretched a lot - and was able to successfully perform 3 shows!! Goal achieved!!! But now ... recovery. I was very sore from the performances. I used to do 30 shows in a month when I was dancing professionally, so my body wasn't really used to this. My mind was tired, my body was tired - so I had to make sure I recovered properly to avoid injury. Here's what I did.

  1. Epsom Salt! Ballet is grueling on the body, but especially your feet. After every show, I ensured I soaked my feet in an Epsom Salt bath to help them recover, reduce inflammation and muscle pain, and rest. It helped tremendously! The magnesium also helped me relax - I put a few lavender drops in it! Taking a bath in Epsom Salt is also super beneficial (I was moving so I didn't have a bathtub otherwise I would have!)

  2. Stretch! Flexibility is so important for your overall health, but after workouts, we forget to stretch, or just simply don't make the time to do it. This is why you may be extra sore a day or two later. Your body is tight. I ensured I not only stretched after each performance but the next day too. Especially the next two days after all the shows when I was the most sore.

  3. Hydrate! The stage is really dry because of all the lights- so it's so easy to get dehydrated while performing. Regardless of what you're training for, hydration is key for limber muscles, energy, stamina, your immune system and everything in between. You sweat a lot - so it's important to replenish the fluid you're losing. I would use Nuun tablets to give me some extra electrolytes as well!

  4. Sleep! When you're training for something you're putting stress on your body which can hinder your immune system if you don't put in the rest to recover. I ensured during performance week when things were stressful that I got good sleep, sometimes even a nap! Sleep helps your body recover, and when you put your body through stress (in my case good stress!!) it may need more rest than usual. This rest allowed me to perform at my best, giving me the energy I needed for those long performance days! Listen to your body, give it the rest it needs so you can be your best!

  5. Fuel! It can be hard to get the right amount of food into your body when you're training for something. You need extra calories as you're more than likely burning more energy than you normally do. On performance days, I moved my body for 4-6 hours in one day, so I had to make sure I was eating enough calories to support the output of energy. Now, this can be hard when you need to move your body. So a huge pasta dinner before a performance isn't necessarily ideal! I'd do mini-meals during the day that were satiating but light at the same time. Peanut butter sandwiches, nuts and seeds with dried fruit, bananas, oatmeal bars, etc. I'd ensure I had a really good high-protein breakfast like an omelet with veggies, and then dinner was also high in protein to replenish my muscles.

  6. Get back to work! Rest days are important, but sitting around too much can also cause you to be tight. I took a few days off of movement to completely rest my body, all I did was stretch. But after that, I got back to the gym! I worked out on the bike, did Pilates, and lifted! I am taking about a month off of ballet to give my body (and toes) a break from that specific form of movement, but I'm back to everything else!

In short, ensure recovery is part of your workout regimen as it will help you bounce back from those tough workouts, or in my case a big performance! Your body will heal quicker, recover faster, and be ready for the next thing!

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