Cross-training, and 4 Ways it Helps Your Dancing
Ever heard about what happens to workers in meat-packing factories? They complain of tendonitis, joint pains, pulled muscles… All due to the compounded strain of having to perform the same repetitive action, over and over. While dancing in any genre is considerably more versatile, it can still lead to injury through frequent practice. The plus side is these consequences can be mitigated through cross-training, which carries a pile of benefits for any dancer.
1. Injury and recovery
Ninety percent of the people you ask about cross-training will tell you it’s great for preventing the body from hurting itself. That’s because cross-training, by definition, explores a wide range of dances, sports and other activities, which keep your muscles working in different ways to achieve the same goals. Variety is the opposite of repetition: more variety = less chance of injury.
2. Increasing Versatility
The great thing about cross-training is it actually increases the variety of movements you can bring to the dance floor. In every competition I’ve visited, there’s always certain couples that stand out. Why? Because they are versatile. They pull out moves and body shapes I would never have thought of on my own, and add a personality to the dance no one else could.
3. Rounding Out the Dance
Like versatility, cross-training is a excellent way to gain increasing control over your body. Example: Ballroom dancers with classical ballet training have a grace and fluidity you rarely see in those who lack that training. That’s because ballet enforces smooth, precise movements, which gives it a relaxed, yet powerful look. Adding different styles of dance to your existing favourites is like sprinkles on your ice cream sundae.
4. Mixing up the Routine
Let’s be honest: Sometimes it’s a drag to practice the same moves over and over, day after day. By ‘switching it up’, you may find it’s a lot easier to keep a routine going. Especially if you use an activity you actually like. Are you a fan of skiing? Hockey? Yoga? Gymnastics? Put a bit of time into your favourite activities, and call them practice.
We’ve talked about a few examples of cross-training so far. Next time, let’s get detailed, and look at exactly what different activities can give to your movement. Have fun picking and choosing!
About the Author
Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for almost 20 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance and his endless seeking for ways to reach new audiences eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches ballroom at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.