Ballroom dancing may not be considered a sport, such as soccer, tennis or basketball, but it definitely places a lot of demands on your body while providing many health benefits. To be a good ballroom dancer, not only do you need to know the correct technique for each style of dance, you need to be flexible and maintain a high level of strength, balance and stamina. An effect way to prepare for the demands of ballroom dancing and stay injury free is to engage in a regular training program, which includes a variety of stretching and strengthening exercises.
Benefits of Dancing
Ballroom dancing burns calories, can help you manage your weight, improve your cardio endurance, reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your blood pressure, according to the American Council on Exercise. When you dance, you support your own body weight, which can improve bone density and reduce your risk of osteoporosis. Your overall muscular strength, flexibility and balance can also improve. Dancing provides a number of psychological benefits, according to ACE. Because it's a fun and enjoyable activity, many people find that it helps improve their mood, self-esteem and confidence, relieves stress and fatigue, and helps them feel more energetic.
Common Dance Injuries
Dancing puts a lot of stress and strain on your joints, muscles and tendons, and if you're not physically fit, you risk injury. Tendinitis, especially around your elbows, which can lead to joint pain and stiffness, is a common injury, claims strength and conditioning coach Brad Walker. Extreme dance movements also put a lot of stress on the muscles and tendons of your legs. Without a regular conditioning program and a proper warm-up, small meniscus tears around your knees or a torn knee cartilage can occur. Muscle cramps are also common among dancers, states Walker. Cramps are typically caused by fatigue, dehydration or fluid imbalance or muscle tightness.
Dancers rely on a good range of motion, and incorporating yoga poses in your exercise routine can improve your flexibility. For example, the classic Downward Facing Dog is effective in stretching your shoulders, back, hamstrings and calves. Start on your hands and knees with your hands slightly forward of your shoulders and your palms on the floor. Slowly lift your knees off the floor, straighten your legs so that your body forms and upside-down "V." Keep your back straight and press your heels down toward the floor until you feel the stretch in the back of your legs. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to one minute. Other yoga stretches to try are the Extended Triangle pose, the High Lunge pose and the Tree pose, which can also help improve your balance.
Whether you're dancing the foxtrot, waltz, tango or quickstep, muscular strength and a strong core are crucial. Male dancers need the strength in their upper bodies and legs for dance moves that require them to lift their female partner over their head. Core strength is important in maintaining your posture and body alignment and is the foundation for all dance moves, according to Jacqui Greene Haas, author of "Dance Anatomy." For upper-body training, perform exercises such as biceps curls, bench presses, rowing and pushups. Sample core-strengthening exercises include planks, crunches or curls, V-sits and oblique twists.