If you’ve been stretching, minimizing the height of your heels, and taking steps to reduce your chances of occupational injury, here are a few more ways you can improve and maintain your health as a dancer.
6. Take supplements now that will improve and strengthen your joints, especially knees.
A variety of vitamin and mineral supplements now exist to help athletes and those who suffer from arthritic maintain joint health. Two of the most common treatments available, glucosamine and chondroitin, are often found in combination supplements. These substances are found naturally in the body. Glucosamine is an amino sugar that helps with cartilage formation and repair and can be taken in 1500-mg doses each day for one to two months or longer if the user is experiencing good results. Chondroitin is part of a large protein molecule (proteoglycan) that helps to keep cartilage elastic and block enzymes that destroy cartilage. This supplement can be taken in 800-mg daily doses for one to two months or longer with good results. A third substance, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), is believed to support ligament health; but unlike glucosamine and chondroitin, MSM has not been used in any significant clinical testing. You can find all of these supplements, individually or in combinations, at almost any pharmacy, drugstore, or health-foods store.
7. Get back to basics: Eating, sleeping, drinking water, exercising moderation.
Like most other high-stress jobs, exotic dancing takes an incredible amount of time, energy, and mental and emotional resources. Exhaustion and malnourishment, including vitamin deficiencies, are not uncommon in the profession. It may seem almost too simple to mention, but dancers must make every effort to stay well-hydrated, get at least 8 hours of sleep each night-more if possible-and eat healthful, well-balanced meals. As mentioned previously in the section on stretching, no other kind of athlete would go to work on an empty stomach and only a few hours’ sleep. Treat your body well, give it the tools it needs to perform well, and you will be a better dancer and enjoy better health for years.
In addition, everyone knows that the dancer’s lifestyle can offer a cornucopia of harmless fun as well as more serious enticements to dangerous diversions. Exotic dancing is a unique profession, and every dancer should enjoy the opportunities and benefits that the job provides; but remember to party safely and in moderation.
8. Know when to call in the pros.
For some kinds of pain and stress, there’s only so much a dancer can do on his or her own. As preventative maintenance, it’s a good idea to see a chiropractor and a counselor or therapist at least once a month. Because of the highly physical nature of your job, it might be a good idea to have regular check-ups with a doctor who specialized in sports medicine. If persistent and severe joint pain becomes a problem, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with an orthopedic doctor at once.
Most importantly, since you’ve chosen to pursue this career, your body and your personality are your most important assets. Invest in high-quality health insurance that will cover all your physical and mental health needs, and don’t procrastinate about making those appointments. With a little care and prevention, you can enjoy all the cardiovascular and muscle-toning benefits of your job and preserve your health for the future.