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recovery nutrition: nurture your artistry

Congratulations! The curtain has fallen on another mesmerizing holiday performance season. You’re now caught in a whirlwind of emotions—elation from the applause, exhaustion from the physical demands, and a touch of the post-performance blues. As you contemplate spending the upcoming lay-off weeks cocooned on the couch, indulging in your favorite TV shows and movies, draped in a cozy blanket, you're not alone—I’m right there with you. However, let’s ponder: Is this the most effective way for us, as dedicated performers, to make the most of this rest period and ensure we return to the studio not just rested but revitalized?



The answer, as always, is nuanced and profoundly personal. But fear not! I’ve got a few recommendations tailored to help you seize this lay-off period strategically, ensuring you:

  • Maintain Your Energy + Stamina

  • Boost Strength Building + Maintenance

  • Reduce Your Chance of Injury


By implementing the strategies and recommendations I share in this post, you'll not only preserve the artistic energy you've cultivated but also fortify yourself for the challenges and triumphs awaiting you in the upcoming season. Let’s dive into the art of recovery and set the stage for a return that’s not just strong but spectacular.



physical recovery

In the realm of rejuvenation, there's a sacred space for unapologetic repose, regardless of the terminology you assign to it:

  • Lounging

  • Embracing burrito mode

  • Indulging in some chillaxing

  • Luxuriating in a well-deserved nap


And after the whirlwind of the performance season you've just weathered, this downtime is nothing short of essential. The exhilarating highs of performance anxiety, the physical demands of the stage, and the relentless post-show soirées and festive gatherings all contribute to a significant depletion of your energy reserves. Now is the opportune moment to get off your feet and immerse yourself in the books stacked on your shelf, the podcasts lined up in your queue, or the movies and TV shows awaiting your attention!


Yet, as a fellow dancer, I understand the restlessness that can accompany too much time away from the studio. This is precisely where a conversation with your trusted physical therapist becomes invaluable. Crafting a personalized rest and recovery plan allows for a gradual realignment of any physical imbalances or persistent discomforts that linger minus the regular demands of your performance season. Seeking recommendations? Explore my blog post on the subject and peruse recommendations on my eMpower Your Team webpage.


In tandem with my tailored physical therapy routine, I find solace in gentle stretching, foam rolling sessions, Pilates, leisure strolls around the city, and a measured approach to strength training. It's not about lifting heavy barbells; rather, it's a time for mindful movement, keeping muscles engaged, and priming them for the impending season. Perhaps yoga is a welcome addition to your recovery toolkit—though, for me, I approach it with caution due to chronic injuries. If I do indulge in a yoga session, I take it exceedingly easy, avoiding pushing myself to the limits of stretching to ensure a rejuvenating rather than aggravating experience.



nutrient restoration

In the realm of recovery nutrition, we can approach it from two vital perspectives, each playing a distinct role in your overall well-being:

  • Short-term, Immediate Post-Dance Recovery Nutrition

  • Long-term, Post-Performance Season Recovery Nutrition


For today's journey, let's dive deep into the latter, exploring the essential aspects of long-term recovery nutrition after a demanding performance season.



Reconnect with Your Foundation -

While some might dismiss it as routine, this is the perfect moment to realign with the nutrition strategies that keep you grounded and replenished. Let's revisit key concepts that can best shape your food and nutrition habits during this recovery phase:

  1. The Big Three + Water - Emphasize the triumvirate of proteins, fats, and carbs, complemented by optimal hydration.

  2. Eat the Rainbow - Rekindle the vibrant spectrum of nutrients by incorporating a diverse range of colorful foods.

  3. Foods you Love - This isn't just about fuel; it's about relishing the foods that bring you joy and satisfaction.

  4. Targeted Attention to Combat Inflammation - Beyond this foundational framework, let's direct our focus toward specific nutrients that play a pivotal role in mitigating inflammation, whether it's localized or pervasive across your body.


Protein Harmony -

In the quest for optimal protein intake, aim for a harmonious balance between animal- and plant-based sources. Give special consideration to proteins boasting a rich content of essential amino acids, including valine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, threonine, histidine, and lysine. Prioritize the inclusion of foods such as beef, dairy, poultry, eggs, soy, and quinoa in your diet, ensuring a comprehensive and well-rounded protein profile for sustained recovery and nourishment.



Fats for Well-being -

Strike a balance between saturated and unsaturated fats, giving particular attention to the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Choose fats that boost inflammation reduction, found abundantly in fish, flaxseed, chia, walnuts, and olive oil. This deliberate selection of fats not only supports your health but also plays a crucial role in fostering a state of well-being during your recovery period.



Carb Replenishment -

Recognize the indisputable significance of carbohydrates in the restoration of glycogen stores, guaranteeing a consistent and sustained energy supply throughout your lay-off period.



Micronutrients Spotlight -

During this downtime, let's shine a spotlight on three micronutrients that warrant additional attention:

  • Iron Enrichment - Bolster oxygen transport in the blood with iron-rich foods like meat, eggs, legumes, grains, and seeds.

  • Vitamin C Boost - Enhance your iron absorption with the assistance of vitamin C, found abundantly in citrus fruits, lemon, and a myriad of flavorful options.

  • Magnesium Marvel - Recognize the multi-faceted role of magnesium in supporting energy production, nerve and muscle function, and beyond. Incorporate magnesium-rich foods such as greens, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, and wheat germ into your recovery diet. Check out my Nutrient Fact Sheet all about Magnesium! 👇

Nutrient Fact Sheet - Magnesium
.pdf
Download PDF • 2.56MB


Utilize these concepts to inform your intentional journey towards exceptional recovery to ensure a return to the studio that's not just rested but revitalized, setting the stage for the upcoming season.




References

Stuart M. Phillips, Stéphanie Chevalier, and Heather J. Leidy. 2016. Protein “requirements” beyond the RDA: implications for optimizing health. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 41(5): 565-572. https://doi.org/10.1139/apnm-2015-0550

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I'm a Nutrition Educator & Wellness Coach based in and serving Washington, DC and the DMV region. My lifestyle-focused method has successfully helped clients achieve personal results and enhance athletic ability, eMpowering performance in class, rehearsals, and on-stage. As professional dancer myself, I have gained nutritional balance and improved my own relationship with food through many years of practice and a Masters of Science in Nutrition from University of Bridgeport. I bring this depth of personal and academic experience to a variety of clients, particularly performance athletes and fitness enthusiasts. In my spare time, I teach yoga and manage Ballet Embody, a professional contemporary ballet company.
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