Dance professionals like Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood seem to have stepped out the womb with the ability to glide on air, however any dancer will tell you that their seemingly effortless grace is a product of tremendously hard work.
In addition to learning to be flexible, wearing the right clothing and endless hours of practice learning dance steps, another important factor is diet. Particularly when you suffer an injury (as every dancer does), diet can help you get back on track sooner than later.
This guide outlines the benefits and examples of anti-inflammatory foods to help you heal fast and dance at your best.
Dance Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
A frequent result of dance injuries is inflammation, experienced as pain, redness, swelling, and a heat sensation. While inconvenient to say the least, this is actually your body’s defence mechanism kicking in, since inflammation causes an increased blood supply to the injured area for protection.
Foods that are heavy on sugar content contribute to inflammation, which in turn prevents you from dance practice. On the other hand, Mother Nature has supplied a number of foods that tackle inflammation, and they are also very healthy as they’re packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Foods that Reduce Inflammation
Fruits, vegetables, fish, grains such as brown rice or bulgur wheat, certain herbs and olive oil are great anti-inflammatory foods that will help your muscles heal faster after a dance injury. Do your best to add the following foods to your daily diet:
While all fruits aid in fighting inflammation, the berry family are packed full of anti-inflammatory properties, so try to eat as much of them as possible.
Because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, fish help reduce inflammation. In particular, you want to eat loads of the oily variety such as mackerel, tuna, salmon and sardines. If you’re not fond of eating fish, you can always buy a fish-oil supplement.
Dark Leafy Greens
Vitamin E is proven to help the body deal with the pro-inflammatory molecules that cause discomfort, and one of the best natural sources of this vitamin is dark green vegetables such as broccoli, collard greens, kale and spinach Whether added to soups and sauces or chopped fresh into salads, these are extremely healthy in addition to reducing inflammation.
Garlic is a time tested remedy for inflammation, in fact research has proved that it acts in the same way as anti-inflammatory pain medications such as Ibuprofen i.e. it helps shut off the pathways that cause inflammation.
Ginger is another ancient remedy that is proven to reduce inflammation in the intestines. Additionally, it has a number of other health benefits, such as helping the body absorb nutrients.
Nuts are packed with super healthy oils and antioxidants that fight off inflammation as well as help repair the damage at it causes. Nuts also help the body maintain flexibility and strength, so as a dancer you should munch them as often as possible.
Great for health all round, the compound in olive oil called oleocanthal (this gives it its signature taste) has been proven to have a similar effect as anti-inflammatory painkillers.
Slow to metabolise, whole grains are any active person’s friend since they will keep you full and strong over a long period of time. Whole grains also fight off inflammation. Do avoid refined grains such as white bread, cereal, rice and pasta however, since they harm rather than help the body.
While eating the above inflammation fighting foods will not magically transform you into the a dancing star such as Strictly judge Craig Revel Horwood, they will certainly help you recover faster from a dance injury so you can get back to honing your kills.