Managing health problems in dancing?

Discussion in 'Just Dance' started by Dalaran1991, Feb 22, 2014.

  1. Dalaran1991

    Dalaran1991 Son Montuno

    With my excessive dancing coupled with martial art training and school work, I'm seeing a few health problems that arise. I would appreciate some advice on preventative measures, and how to lead a healthy dancing life style.

    1. Foot problems. I like dressing up for dance, so I wear dress shoes/loafers that are functional enough to run and turn in. But you bet those aren't as comfortable as sneakers. With 14h/week dancing recently my left foot, which I rely for spin, is starting to hurt in the arch. Nothing that would need a doctor visit, but it's very annoying when walking. I recently had to switch to sneakers and while this fix the problem I don't like wearing sneaker dancing. If the fragile ladies can wear stilettos and still do triple spins there's no reason I can't dance with dress shoes.

    Anyone has tips on how to take care of your feet for dancing?

    2. Sleeping. You bet. From Thursday to Saturday I don't go home before midnight. And every day I have to get up early for school or training, like 7am. Taking little naps during the day helps a bit but nothing beats a long night sleep. I know a lot of people dance while having full time jobs, so you guys must have some tricks.

    3. Exhaustion. I'm a 23 energetic and sportive guy, but I'm feeling like I'm burning through my muscle here. On average I dance 2-3 hours/day, train for 1-3 hours/day, and of course there's school work. I basically only go back home to sleep and eat before taking off again. I like the life style and has nothing to complain, but if it keeps going like this I won't be able to sustain it for long term. We youngster might think we're bulletproof adamantium wrapped in an Adonis body, but the truth is when I wake up from bed and every muscle fiber scream in utter agony, it ain't easy.

    So I would like tips on dieting, how to supply myself with enough energy to go about the day and prevent exhaustion and muscle sore.

    Thanks everyone :)
  2. Kading

    Kading Rhythm Deputy

    Honestly you should just do less dancing/working out...
    Some people (hi Sabrosura) can work on 2-3 hours sleep a day and barely any food, but other people (hi Kading) need 8 hours sleep and need to constantly eat. Most people I know here that have full time jobs just go out but only stay till like 11:30-12:00 and then go home and rest a lot in the weekends to refill.

    Tips on your dieting would be to just eat as much healthy stuff as you can, since you need all the energy you can get. Eat food with loads of complex carbs/protein/and healthy fat. Brown rice, chicken, turkey tuna, salmon (if you can afford), peanut butter, beans, eggs, potato's, bread (though not too much of this), milk etc,

    Taking care of your feet I would suggest buying other shoes, and I loved filling a hot tub and putting my feet in it lol. When I was in NY and danced 6 hours a day the only problem I really had (except exhaustion of my entire body, but that was doable, and 1-2 days rest fixed this) were my feet/knees. For me shoes really fixed my feet when I was back in NL. I used to go on sneakers and I was fine. Afterwards I went on jazz shoes and my feet were killing me. Now I switched to sneakers again and my feet are fine. You can buy cool looking dances shoes which still have pretty oke comfort and look good, instead of the non-dancing dress shoes.

    When I was dancing so much in NY I purposely stopped my workout (gym) and martial arts training. Every person I spoke who followed the same routine as me (20-30hours dancing a week) and was also doing gym/cardio stuff was killing their body. After 3 months they all felt terribly sore and a lot of them focussed only one dancing after that period.

    I need to pick up my weight lifting again though because I'm a skinny dude all of a sudden again ._. so lame.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
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  3. salsamarty

    salsamarty Rhythm Deputy

    Really . . . you are burning yourself out. Just cut back. Get the sleep you need most of the time. Eat a healthy balanced diet. Get some exercise outside of the dancing. Get some balance in your life. And . . . make school and a career a first priority unless you plan to become a professional dancer.
    Domenico likes this.
  4. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura Maestro 'Sonero' Lavoe

    So you only need to wake up early after a night of dancing on Fridays, right? :p

    Joking aside--I happen to be really interested in health topics and human biology/physiology, I've been spending many hours every week pretty much all my life (well, since I was 12 or so :)) reading about everything from how and why the body works the way it does to various diets, supplements etc.

    So, as kading said I can indeed be ok with 2-3 hours of sleep a night (but then I catch up on the weekends :D)

    Here is the thing. The only way to naturally have more energy and decrease the amount of sleep you need is to decrease the energy you spend on digestion. Digestion is a major energy expenditure. Even if you, like most guys, feel that you need a lot of food for energy, the truth is that it takes a long time before that energy becomes available to the body and until then it is just using up your energy. Big meals also put your body in a certain neurological and hormonal state that is not ideal for high physical activity like dancing. The proof is this: when you are sick, the body naturally reduces your appetite. The reason is this: the body needs to use all its energy to fight the illness (infection), so it eliminates digestion because it needs to preserve as much of its energy as possible. That is why you should not force yourself to eat if you lose your appetite when you are sick--just follow your body, it usually knows best. :)

    So, with that said, the solution to having more energy is: eating as few meals as possible per day--ideally just one big meal in the evening and only small snacks (fruits) during the day, which is how humans actually evolved: hunt/gather during the day while doing massive amounts of exercise (walk., run etc.) and then eat a big meal at night before bed, when they could relax and didn't need to be as active.

    If you want to understand the science and evolved biological processes behind this, read the book The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler. It is excellent and explains why with this way of eating you will have the most energy possible. Among other things, eating this way optimizes the hormones your body produces during the day. Eating big meals during the day essentially stops production of the hormones that give you energy and encourages production of the hormones that relax your body in preparation for sleep.

    Also, the more raw food you eat, especially fruits, the more energy you will have because fruits digest very easily compared to heavier food. Try it for a few days: eat fruits for as many of your meals as possible (at east 90%) and then see if you wake up more rested; you will probably find that you need fewer hours of sleep.

    Also: always try to not combine fruits with meat or any fatty or heavy food, try to eat them separately on their own with at least an hour before your next meal. The reason is that the fruits will be "trapped" with the other food in your stomach instead of passing quickly through the digestive system (fruit digests much quicker than any other food), so they can cause fermentation--the problem is not the fruit, the problem is the other food you eat it with needs a lot more time to digest.

    The worst "energy sucking" foods are carbs (bread, pasta etc.)--even though they might give you a surge of energy in the short term, they cause a blood sugar crash later--and heavy foods that combine many ingredients.

    The other thing is, you *have* to catch up on your sleep regularly. Even if you lose sleep Thursday-Saturday, you have to have at least 1-2 days in which you sleep really late and wake up without any alarm (I can get by with 3-5 hours of sleep for several days but I always sleep in very late on weekends, till 1-2 pm :D).
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
  5. tallpaul

    tallpaul Pattern Police

    Your feet are telling you otherwise.

    If you're getting pain in arches, then you don't have enough arch support. I would recommend dancing in shoes that provide decent arch support (supplemented with orthotic insoles if necessary). Forget split-sole jazz shoes - I have no idea why people recommend them... I would also recommend speaking to a chiropodist / podiatrist about your arches, and find out whether your arches are pronating on either side (thereby giving you a handle on whether additional support is required).

    I normally wear over-the-counter orthotic insoles in any shoes I'm wearing for dancing (converse sneakers, dance trainers, dress shoes). This made a significant different to the arch pain I experienced when I really started getting into salsa.

    I don't really understand how women manage to dance lots in impractical shoes without damaging themselves. Probably something to do with their bodies being used to wearing high heels outside of dancing, so their muscles adjust for it, so that heels become more comfortable and functional than flats. (I do know that SOME women have damaged themselves by dancing lots in impractical shoes, and not paying attention to the kind of symptoms you're experiencing).
    Dalaran1991 likes this.
  6. timberamayor

    timberamayor Maestro 'Guaguanco' Rodríguez

    Very interesting. Must try this. I have definitely noticed that when I eat a low carb diet I actually have more energy. Will start trying out the small meals during the day and one big meal thing.
  7. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura Maestro 'Sonero' Lavoe

    I've never liked wearing high heels. They feel very unnatural and they do affect your entire body -- I can only imagine the kind of damage they do to the feet of women who wear them often--even though they may feel accustomed to the heels. I don't understand why it's considered a point of pride for a woman to be "good at walking in high heels"--it probably means the damage to the feet and the leg muscles and back is becoming more and more irreversible.

    When dancing, I choose my shoes based on how comfortable they are for dancing, not how they look :rolleyes:, and for me the most comfortable are dance shoes with a 1.5 inch heel (the same size as those "Cuban heel" shoes men wear in Latin ballroom). Anything higher is uncomfortable. I also have small feet so every additional inch has a disproportionate effect on my body's balance.

    I actually prefer the 1.5 inch heels to dancing in flats, they help align my spine as they tip my weight forward a little so my pelvis tucks in; that may have to do with the fact that my lower back has a bigger curve than normal, which I inherited from my mother (i.e. my butt sticks out more than normal when I wear flats--but with the 1.5 inch heels, the upper and lower spine gets in better alignment).

    I've worn high heels--and by that I mean about 2.5 inches which for many women are not even really that high--only about five times before I started working. I wore them at high school formal events and after a few hours my feet, especially the balls, would be hurting so bad that I decided whatever extra esthetic benefits the heels provided were not worth the pain and all the other negative effects the heels were surely causing. So I never bought any other high heel shoes after high school. When I started working I got a couple of pairs of 2.5 inch heel formal shoes that I would wear for client meetings, but they had a thick heel so they were much more comfortable than the "fashionable" type thin high heel shoes. Even so, I found that my toes would become painful after a while because my weight was shifted so much onto the balls resulting in my toes getting squished and crowded against the front of the (closed toe) shoe. I once again decided high heels were really not worth the hassle. After I started dancing I gave up even those more comfortable high heel shoes and found others that look just as nice but are only 1.5 inches. And when I am in the office (no meetings) I wear ballet flats, which are as comfortable as slippers. :)

    As for arch support, I've never had an issue, I find that my dance shoes actually have plenty of support since the main part of the shoe that holds the arch is hard material. Or maybe I'm just lucky to not have any arch problems, even though I tend to overpronate as I have high arches; ever since I took an Alexander technique class I've always been very aware of how my body is aligned and how my weight is distributed on my feet when I walk (and dance :)).
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
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  8. estrella

    estrella Tumbao

    Hi since i use insoles to support my arch i have much less problems ( pain) within my ankles it really helps me.
  9. tallpaul

    tallpaul Pattern Police

    Interesting to hear that Sabrosura.

    I do have one high-heel-loving salsera friend who I've often felt could do with being more "grounded" in her dancing. When she got really excited about a pair of dance shoes (Burjus, I think, or a copy of them) with 3 or 4 inch heels, I tried to tell her they were unlikely to improve her dance experience. She was having none of it - until she wore them to a few socials, and realised herself that they were throwing her off balance moreso than usual. She's back to the regular 2 inch heels again.

    But, by the same token, she tells me that a few years ago she was going out with a man who was shorter than her, and so took to wearing flats. The experience was quite painful for her to get used to, as she always wears heels.
  10. tallpaul

    tallpaul Pattern Police

    Sorry, should have said "over-pronating" on either side.
  11. Lawndart

    Lawndart Tumbao

    Hi Dalaran

    A good hot soak does help . I have a heated foot bath which is great. One thing to be very careful of is where you place the TV remote while soaking your feet. In my experience... submersing the TV remote in water seems to break the TV. It becomes impossible to change channels. :oops:

    Pain in your arch should not be ignored. It can become chronic. Ignore it long enough and changes in your foot can become permanent.You should be able to find comfortable dance shoes online. Just do a search here in the forums. Dance shoes are generally lighter than regular dress shoes so dancing is easier. The soles are designed so that spinning won't wreck your knees. If you spin, it's best to avoid sticky shoes.

    At your age... I suppose its ok to go on a dancing "binge". Just listen to your body. When it seems like dancing is too much work... then you are overdoing it. If you think of dancing like you would any athletic sport... then you know that you need recovery time.

    And a thank you to Sabrousa... I just bought the book!

    Smejmoon and Dalaran1991 like this.
  12. Dalaran1991

    Dalaran1991 Son Montuno

    Wow. That totally surprises me. So by eating you are spending unnecessary energy too? I never knew that, just thought that at this age the more I eat the better to support my activities.

    What about military diet? Those guys surely have a much higher level of activity than us. Is following their diet a good idea?

    My current budget won't allow a lot of fruits in the diet. But I'll try increasing fruit consumption the way you said and see if it changes.

    The hot tub ideas for the foot are real cool :) I remember my mom used to prepare this for dad when I was young. I'll start doing it and have my own moment of foot relaxation :D

    I'll go grab some insoles for my foot. Other than that how do you know that a certain shoes have good arch support? It's not something you can feel or measure while you go shopping for one. If anyone has some good links/guides, much appreciated! :0

    About the stuffs on "listening to your body" I'm not so sure. What if my body is weak and simply being a b*tch? Your mind and body will always fight changes, whether those changes are good or bad. If I followed the "listen to your heart/do what is natural to you" I would never get into dancing because I was super timid and miserable. Now thanks to salsa I feel much more confident and the psychological costs of the first few weeks dancing were totally worth it. In the same vein I might feel tired now because my body is weak but is taking transformation to become stronger, and if I stop I might never reap the benefits.
  13. tallpaul

    tallpaul Pattern Police

    Bear in mind, though, that many super lightweight dance shoes won't necessarily give you much arch support -especially split sole shoes. They may make life easier for spinning (depending on how much you spin in practice), but harder on your feet - that's been my experience anyway. (If you don't do any more than single spins when dancing, then super spinny suede or technical soles aren't going to be be-all-and-end-all).

    There's also a lot of street shoes and dress shoes you can get that have smooth soles (leather or synthetic), and some that are fairly lightweight and "non-clumpy", so don't feel that "dance shoes" are an essential item to own and use.

    In the first instance, going by feel when you try them on should be sufficient - does your instep feel supported? Flat sneakers with no heel, or other shoes with a flat insole aren't going to be fantastic for you.

    If it continues to ***** in the same ways over time, longer and louder - then start paying attention to the bitching, and figure out what it's telling you.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
  14. chrisk

    chrisk Super Moderator Staff Member

    I have to strongly disagree with your advice about nutrition here. First, the book that you suggest here is not really presenting much science and often times is not backing up those claims or referencing another book by the same author, which only contains little scientific references. And second if as you state you read so much about diets, how did you miss out that the kind of diet that you sugggest here, which is a Paleo one, is scientifically very controversial at least? Many experts refute the sciences that Paleo advocates like to quote or point out how they are mistaken, e.g. meat was only available sometimes when the hunters were sucessful and even then the meat then and now is not really comparable.

    Of course, you're free to follow this diet if you like it and mention that, but it's not a recommendable diet for everybody as there's no proper scientific basis for the claims that it makes.
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  15. Lawndart

    Lawndart Tumbao

    I forgot all about split-sole shoes. More accurately, I forgot to mention how much I hate them. I felt extremely unsteady in them. The pair I tried had these super thick soles. My CG is too high already. :rolleyes:. I was afraid i would end up on the floor.

    And I I totally get what you say about arch supports. The subject of foot support could be its own topic. Probably best not brought up here. What I as trying to bring out was that if sneakers do not hurt... then find some nice looking shoes that feel the same. Dance shoes like Ballo fitted with supports should be great and look good.

  16. Domenico

    Domenico Son

    Guys, guys if you now even tell him that eating costs energy, he won't eat anything more.:facepalm:

    @Dalaran, I have the urge to tell/warn you that I can discern a touch of obsession in what you are saying and in your inclination.

    So the only and more sincere suggestion I'd like to give you is:

    You are too high spirited. slow down.... change down at least two gears

    Listen to the desperate voice of your own body which is trying to communicate that you are mistreating it.

    Well if it hurst in the arch, take a break with the training. A small inflammation if you ignored could grown in a worse problem.
    You do not seem to care of your body. It doesn't sound good. You are even asking for some tricks. You remind me of those obsessed body builders - just to give an example - who see their body as a sort of machine. They are prepared to mistreat their body, their health - using tricks too [sometimes even very dangerous such as hormones] - in order to combat all those natural needs o the body or just to silince those voices of their body telling him that something is wrong.

    Ok, I think it is enough with the giving you a goog scolding :muted:

    Now on to the question "good shoes", well good shoes are essential - this is my humble opinion -
    I didn't like the sneakers either. I would reccommend something like Gabellini or Ballo shoes. I have the ballo ones.

    And please eat.
    We won't now talk here about the right diet..bla bla, bla. This is, again, another topic one could talk/discuss/disagree about for ages.

    I had a big discussion about this topi already and I really can't take it anymore.

    Just try to have a balanced diet AND sleep. You can't imagine how important it is that you give rest/sleep to your body. Many important/vital biological processes take place during the sleep.

    I had also a tendency towards obsession in the past. I remember that I regretted I had had a guitar for many years but never dedicated time to practicing and learning it.
    I started with a very obsessive inclination. The result:
    • I did not enjoy it at all
    • I was blind to see any improvement [my thoughts were always: I am still too bad]
    Now I sometimes practice iwth the guitar and I finally enjoy it. I am even able to see the improvements I am doing.

    Take a break. Give your body some time to store, revise and process the big amount of information you have been giving to it.
    Next time you go dancing you will be amazed of how good your are at spinning!

    My personal theory is the right amount of food and
    Dalaran1991 likes this.
  17. Domenico

    Domenico Son

    Oh guys. Today I do not seem to be able to properly type. Apart from misplelling I might have overlooked that final sentence. Sorry
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
  18. Smejmoon

    Smejmoon El Sabroso de Conguero

    Sabrosura, Chris,
    Can you get into good argument here with references and stuff. It's really interesting. Imho doctors/science have very little clue about how digestion works. For me diet Sabsrosura suggests gives most performance, but not good long term. Long term is many meals a day. 5 is socially acceptable. Basically every 3 hours.
    vit likes this.
  19. Sabrosura

    Sabrosura Maestro 'Sonero' Lavoe

    No, I won't, for a few reasons.

    Chris is a strong believer in "experts" and in the fact that they, no matter how biased or simply wrong in their assumptions/research, should always be trusted instead of a "non-expert". In our aspartame discussion last year I presented the argument that the only positive studies on aspartame were industry-funded and he still wasn't convinced and thought these "studies" were valid. Chris, did you see this video I posted in the Healthcare thread of a former Eli Lilly (major pharmaceutical company) executive? Still think pharma companies have our best interests at heart?

    (This is Dr. John Rengen Virapen, former Eli Lilly & Co executive who after 35 years of working for them decided to quit and speak out about Big Pharma's method for profit through drugs for symptomatic diseases that people live with for the duration of their lives.)

    Back on topic: we can discuss references about various diets and ways to eat until we are green in the face, but at the end of the day this is about your own body and your own health and personally I will not put my health in anyone else's hands, no matter how much of an "expert" they are. (Especially when these "experts" are themselves overweight and sick.)

    By the way, Chris, the third leading cause of death in the US are "experts": 225,000 people die every year in the US due entirely to iatrogenic causes--as a direct result of medical treatment/advice. Let me put it differently: doctors directly cause 225,000 people to die every year in the US (how many more worldwide, it is not known). Causes of iatrogenesis include negative effects of drugs, chance, medical error, negligence, unexamined instrument design, anxiety or annoyance in the physician or treatment provider in relation to medical procedures or treatments, and the adverse effects or interactions of medications. Reference:

    When it comes to our body and our health, we should all take personal responsibility and do our own research and come to our own conclusions. And when it comes to things like diet and lifestyle, the only way to know if something you have researched and seems like potentially a good idea will work for your body is to try it out for a few weeks and see how you feel. It's as simple as that.

    In my example, if you decide to try eating this way (small simple meals, ideally fruit, during the day, bigger meal in the evening) for a few weeks, the worst thing that can happen is that you will not notice any difference, or maybe you will feel worse. Then you will stop the diet and go back to your normal way of eating. But, the best thing that can happen is that you will feel much better and have more energy, etc. For the rest of your life!

    [Here is one guy's detailed experience with the Warrior Diet as an example of what you may be missing out on (or, may not, but how will you know if you don't try it...):

    In my experience (which--this goes without saying of course--may, or may not, be different from yours): eating the "conventional" breakfast, lunch and dinner and some snacks makes me sluggish all day compared to eating my main meal later in the day. I've never, since I was little, felt hungry in the morning. I only start to get hungry in the afternoon. I choose to listen to my own body instead of "experts". And not only do I feel great physically, but I feel much more positive and energetic mentally as well when I eat this way compared to eating "on schedule" only because the clock says it is 9 am / noon /etc., so let's stop everything, it's time to eat. And, as a person who greatly enjoys good food, I can tell you that nothing tastes as delicious and satisfying as those first few bites after I've eaten almost nothing for a while. :) From that perspective, to me it's a waste of money to go to a good restaurant for dinner after I had a "normal" lunch, the food doesn't taste nearly as good as it would if I ate very little during the day (fruits/nuts/other small simple "nibbling"). So instead of the "automatic eating" on schedule that most people engage in because that is the "conventional way", I get a lot more pleasure from food by eating this way and listening to my body, on top of the other benefits. Pleasure *and * health together--a long way from the "no pain no gain" diet mentality.

    On the other hand, if you take Chris's advice and don't even give this way of eating a try because it has "little scientific reference", the best case scenario that can happen is that it would have indeed not given you any benefit. But the worst case scenario is that it would have improved your health and energy a lot, and you missed out on years and years of better health and better energy every day simply because it seems that there aren't enough "experts" to "prove" it. To me that is a pretty good definition of foolishness and that is why I personally cannot stand people who discourage others from trying new things, including new lifestyle choices, simply because of "not enough experts". Like you said, Smej, the medical field is lagging behind severely in the field of diet and nutrition. Most doctors (in the US) get only a few hours of diet/nutrition training in their four years of medical school (reference:

    I leave you with this quote by a famous cha-cha champion :)

    "Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is specifically your own." -- Bruce Lee
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
  20. tallpaul

    tallpaul Pattern Police

    Without wanting to take sides in an ongoing argument, I must say that my experience is different.

    Going through school, I wasn't hungry first thing in the morning, right enough.

    This changed as soon as I started my working life (beginning with a teacher training qualification, including teaching practice). I found myself so hungry through the day, that I was unable to get any work done properly without a proper breakfast and/or lunch.
    This is still my experience - I can't concentrate on my work while hungry. So the thing for me is to eat healthily during the working day - enough to satisfy through the day, without leaving me with hunger pangs that take me to the vending machines for potato crisps or chocolate.

    (And no, drinking extra fluids doesn't make me less hungry).

    My experience at the weekend is different - I can skip breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday and make it until a late lunchtime quite easily.

    Not that I'm looking for diet advice - just saying that the "eat less during day" approach advocated doesn't work for me.

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