Dietitians give straight answers to young dancers' most common questions. Thinkstock
Certain diet myths have persisted for decades. And Instagram and Facebook tend to magnify whatever wellness trends are hot. "Eating healthy is easy, but social media is making it so hard," says Rachel Fine, founder of To The Pointe Nutrition. With so much misinformation out there and compelling photography that markets crazes like #cleaneating as keys to covetable bodies, it's wise to listen to qualified professionals more than influencers. DT asked five experienced nutritionists and dietitians to set the record straight on dancers' most commonly asked questions.
You've seen them: dancers, still recovering from a holiday food coma, shuffling into class in a woozy, post-vacation stupor. (You may even know the feeling yourself.) It's all they can do to make it through their classes, and by day two, they're stiff, sore and moaning about it.
“Winter break is the worst," says Rubén Graciani, chair of dance and associate artistic director, Conservatory of Performing Arts, at Point Park University. Not many students take a January intensive, and with no school for about four weeks, it's just long enough to fall seriously out of shape—especially if dancers aren't cross-training.
“The biggest thing is stamina," he says. “Jumping into that schedule—11 to 13 technique classes a week—it's really hard on their bodies."
A few months ago, both my knees started hurting after I would exercise. Now, the pain occurs at the bottom of my kneecap and is the worst when I lock my knees. I've been doing a little research, and I was wondering if this could be Osgood-Schlatter disease. If it is, do you have any tips to help my knee pain?
I've been having a lot of lower-back pain lately. I have an arch in my lower back when I sleep, so I tried changing my mattress to see if it would make things better. Unfortunately, it didn't help, and I continue to have discomfort. I attend a performing arts school during the day, and I'm on a dance team at night. I really want to get this back pain addressed so I can continue dancing. What do you think the issue could be?
Every dancer has different dietary needs and can find, through trial and error, which foods help them perform their best during full days of dance. But younger dancers will need your help to pick foods that provide energy and focus. Here's a handful of suggestions.
My 10-year-old daughter has a dance teacher who has the students stay in the frog position for a few minutes each class. My daughter finds it very uncomfortable. Does this position actually serve a purpose?