Ballroom Dance > Dance Longevity

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by DanceMentor, Nov 18, 2017.

  1. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    I’m sure I am not the only one here whose goal is to be of the dance for as long as possible throughout my life. Perhaps some of you like me have been dancing for more than 20 years, and some even more than that. So I wanted to ask you what are some of your considerations in making sure that your ability to Dance for a long time is not compromised?

    Here is a short list of things I do but I’m sure there are some things I could do better and some things I missed

    1. Food selection - I am on a plant-based diet 99% of the time. However, this includes supplementation with plant-based protein, and I have a protein shake about once per day.

    2. Water intake - basically I have a large container of water that I try to finish every day.

    3. Cardio - I jog about four or five times per week. I don’t necessarily run fast but I make sure that I get my heart rate up for at least 10 minutes.

    4. Stretching - I recognize there are areas of my body that will tend to get tight, and in some areas even there are long-term weaknesses. I try my best not to go along time without addressing these areas. For me I sometimes have low back problems and I know that stretching my hamstrings and twisting stretches are very helpful.

    5. Breathing - If I don’t think about it often enough, sometimes I will get in the habit of not taking enough deep breaths during the day. I make a conscious effort to think about my breathing a few times per day.

    6. Strength training - This is actually an area that I tend to avoid mostly. I have found that my other activities which include a little yoga, plus dancing and jogging tend to keep me strong enough. I have not found a need to increase in this area.

    7. Listening to my body - it would be rare that I would stop dancing, but if I have a problem I will definitely pay careful attention to what is going on. Often there are some technical considerations my dancing that will improve the situation

    8. Posture and habitual body positions- throughout the day, I have found it easy for myself to fall into habits such as the way I see it, the way I sleep, or even the way I stand. I try to be aware of body positions, as habitually being in an awkward position is not good at all.

    9. Massage - this is more a treat to myself, but I have often found that my massage therapist will notice tight muscles, or I will notice them. This allows me to think about which muscles to strengthen or stretch.

    10. Mental training - I remain committed to always learning something every day. It may not involve dancing, but I am always doing something to keep my mind working very well. I study languages as well as dancing.

    11. Emotional awareness- there are some emotions that just don’t do me any good. I try to notice my emotional state and be thoughtful of how I can make sure I am in the best position to do well with all the above.
    debmc and Dean like this.
  2. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    These 2 are the only things I do every day ( LUV to breathe:D ) .

    I really do not believe there any formulae for longevity . Moderation in all things is good, and the 2 things I don't do are smoke and drink alcohol .
    Not really a fair assessment as many Pros like myself ,dance regularly thru our teaching schedule, hence the continuous exercise .The more important exercise is the mental health aspect.. keep the mind BUSY...
    There are numerous Profs in the UK in their 80s ( and some, 90s ) still active .
    danceronice and DanceMentor like this.
  3. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    13. The insight that the ability to dance will not last forever.
    scullystwin42 likes this.
  4. Dr Dance

    Dr Dance Well-Known Member

    14. Good sleep habits. I try for at least 7 hours per night of regularly scheduled sleep. Naps limited to 15 minutes, one per day tops.
    Dean and IndyLady like this.
  5. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I'm pretty close to disputing that ! :D
    Requiem, RiseNFall and DanceMentor like this.
  6. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Mate!
  7. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Oh!... I'll be back to this thread.
    One thought... tangotime, Big Time positive role model!
  8. RiseNFall

    RiseNFall Well-Known Member

    MAY not last forever. I'm enjoying it and hope to continue to, but in the process of checking on something else, it was noted that I'm developing arthritis in my ankles. That really is not going to help my technique as it progresses. o_O On the other hand, arthritis runs in the women in my family, and mine is starting much later and progressing more slowly than in previous generations. Good living? Luckier genetics? No knowing.
    scullystwin42 likes this.
  9. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Actually, "dance " is an exercise that will fight against arthritic circumstances.

    This is a true story, briefly ; I met a lady who had to be literally carried into the studio and within 1 year, she walked in. The arthritis had not gone but became tolerable .
  10. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    This. I've had some neck issues lately, so I was referred to a physical therapist. It's been eye opening. So I've been learning lots of exercises, which will have to continue even after the physical therapy is over.
    RiseNFall likes this.
  11. Janson

    Janson Active Member

    The most important thing to me is are you dancing efficiently and in a way that your body can do for a long time, or does your style of dancing work fine up until it blows out your knee or similar?
    I don't believe ballroom should ever feel like it's working against the body, whether that's pulling at a tendon or muscle or putting too much strain through the joint. I've seen many dancers will these long term induced injuries, and I don't want to become one of them just in the pursuit of results at the expense of my long term body. The type of training and techniques that 'work' for kids can't always be carried into adult life without damage in my view.
    flying_backwards and Dean like this.
  12. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    You can fight your genetics, but ultimately you can't win.
    danceronice, dncergrl2 and IndyLady like this.
  13. dncergrl2

    dncergrl2 Member

    If I had to do it over again, I would wear prescripted orthotics in my 20s and reduce wearing of heels to the bare minimum.
  14. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    Things that are in my regular routine - many of which were instituted to make me a stronger dancer - that will contribute to my longevity:

    1. Sleep. I'm strict with my bedtime to get the amount that I need.

    2. Nutrition. Nothing is 'off limits' to me, but I try to limit the junk to times when I will truly enjoy it and eat a balanced diet made mostly of whole foods. Another key for me was eating enough to fuel me through my demanding week. I also try to keep the water intake high and the caffeine intake low.

    3. Chiro and physio. To address some structural issues and deal with some imbalances that came from those issues. I still go to chiro twice a month, and do physio exercises as a part of my warm up.

    4. Cross-training. (Ballet, cardio and strength work.) To keep me active and mobile, and to work on the parts that don't get worked at dance.

    5. Replacing my shoes on the regular. A pair of dance shoes lasts me 3-4 months. When the support goes, so do the shoes. Same goes for athletic shoes. I only get one set of feet and knees, and I plan to take care of them.

    6. Foam rolling, massage and stretching. I foam roll nearly daily, and get a massage when things get particularly tight. Stretching of certain spots happens every day, and a deep full body stretch happens at least twice a week.

    7. Rest days. I take one day off from dance a week, and will take a second if my body needs it, without feeling any guilt.

    8. Warm-up. I never jump right into practice, lessons, class, etc. without a full warm-up. My no-longer-a-teenage-body needs time to get loose and ready to work.

    9. Technique focus. I spend a LOT of time learning how to work as correctly and as efficiently as possible, to minimize the stress on my joints. And once I learn it, I drill it until it's automatic.

    There's probably more, but these are the things that spring immediately to mind :)
    flying_backwards and IndyLady like this.
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I find your conclusions interesting, And here's why ; With very few exceptions, the majority of you points are justified, but, back "when" I do not recall any dancer ( and I don't know all ! ) that had that strict a regime. There is one exception that is well known, Bill Irvine and he had been an army PT instructor .

    I've never instituted any of those disciplines and am still as agile and mobile as I have been for just about ever.. My belief is that really is about the "genes " and obvious good habits ( I do not smoke or drink alch. ). I'm also sure that most would benefit from your suggestions but one shoe does not fit all..

    By the way , I am still teaching and am more than capable of dancing to all tempi comfortably .
  16. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I think the ability to continue to dance as we age is part lifestyle modifications ( proper diet, exercise etc), and unfortunately part genetics. I have had knee issues for almost two years now and they have only marginally responded to PT, diet changes, steroid and filler injections and a variety of other therapies. The hardest reality is that sometimes you can do all the right things and you still don't get better. I continue to dance but I have to do a lot of supplemental therapies to do so.
  17. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I eat mostly a plant based diet including omega 3 diet products but I will eat eggs and chicken. No meat products and I avoid fatty, fried and sugary foods. I don't jog as that is bad for my knees but I use the recumbent bike. I stretch and do PT based exercises for strength. I get monthly deep tissue massages and I'm about to start with more body work. I foam roll every other day. I get hyaluronic filler injections to my knees twice a year and use knee support when necessary. I tend to go with more evidence based practices so acupuncture and yoga are next as they have more data proving their value for arthritis.
  18. IndyLady

    IndyLady Well-Known Member

    This is something I'm remaining cautious about. My one remaining living grandparent is 80 and just moved into nursing home/assisted living. The other grandparents passed away around ages 71-73. Lots of health issues across the board. Including Grandma who is still alive - I suspect her longevity relative to the others is because she has always had excellent health insurance (wife of a UAW Ford employee) that she has used aggressively. I may do better because my lifestyle is so different from theirs, but genetic odds are not in my favor.

    Generally speaking, y'all are way more disciplined than I am. I'm bad on the diet (love my red meat, ice cream, soda, etc)... just gonna stop there.

    However, I'm also in agreement and in practice on: adequate sleep, lots of water, "cross-training" (Zumba, barre class, strength training), warming up, monthly massages (just Swedish, not ready for deep tissue yet).

    It's been mentioned, but knee maintenance/protection is also a thing for me now. I've probably already done irreparable damage in the decade I've been dancing, but in the interest of mitigating further damage, I've put the kibosh on anything that puts undue pressure on the knees. This means less or no jumping in exercise classes, and no "get outside your comfort zone" stuff in dance that is strenuous on the knees and of dubious value (i.e. outside of standard correct technique). And I use insoles in high-heeled shoes - including dance shoes.
  19. FancyFeet

    FancyFeet Well-Known Member

    It didn't really start out as a regime, or even a semi-solid plan... and way back at the beginning, I really did none of these things. I started going to chiro and cross training after a frustrating injury that happened twice in a single year. I started paying attention to my nutrition when I started dancing more frequently and dropped a noticeable amount of weight (unintentionally) in a really short amount of time. I started doing the 'self care' thing more diligently when I got tired of constantly being sore and tired. I now do most of them just as naturally as people brush their teeth, etc. - they're just part of my day and don't require a whole lot of thought.

    This is what works for me and lets me dance 6 days a week at my 'advanced' age. But even I built up to it gradually, and tried a bunch of things that did not work along the way. I don't think there is a cookie-cutter approach.

    Edited to add: I also consciously approach dance like an athlete - my viewing it as more as a sport may have something to with the way that I approach my training.
    IndyLady likes this.
  20. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    As I often say; what ever works for you , fine , and I'm sure would work for many . I can only speak from my experiences and I still believe much has to do with ones genes .Oddly enough, I just had my annual Drs exam. I'm still approx. at the same weight now as I was at 25 and my "readings " were 137 over 70.. pretty decent for all the abuse I've given my bod!!!!...:D

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