Dance Health

Can Good Nutrition Prevent Injury?

By Paul Vander Straaten

I am the proud father of two beautiful little boys. Watching them grow really is a joy and I think most parents would agree that it happens so fast. Even before they are walking they are falling off chairs, tumbling down stairs and running into walls. Kids seem to injure themselves in the most peculiar ways. Many of these injuries are preventable, however some are just a part of growing up.

Similarly, a dancer is just as vulnerable. Injury and muscle soreness can result from repetitive strain and impact. Sore back muscles could be due to over training, or from slipping and falling in rehearsal. Could either have been prevented? Being in top physical, mental and emotional condition will help prevent injuries, however often it’s just the nature of the business. And the more you dance the higher your risk.

Regardless of how injuries occur, managing the loss of shattered dreams and years of hard work is psychologically challenging and highly stressful. The emotional devastation from being put out of action is huge, especially if dancing is your life. Good nutrition plays a significant role in prevention and management of injuries and will also assist in a speedy recovery, should an injury occur.

Have you ever experienced sore leg muscles a day or two after you have danced? This is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and is that tight and tender sensation experienced 24-48 hours post exercise. This is damage to the muscle which causes inflammation. The inflammation forms toxins which create that sensation of pain. These toxins attract white blood cells to the site of pain which in turn generate free radicals.

When we sustain an impact injury our physiology is much the same. We experience inflammation from muscle damage which forms toxins (pain), and these toxins attract white blood cells which generate free radicals.

Free radicals are responsible for cellular ageing and impairing cellular function. This includes all the cells that make up our muscles, ligaments and tendons. So ideally we want to reduce the volume of free radicals in our body. Antioxidants are what do this by neutralizing harmful free radicals.

We get the bulk of our antioxidants from fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately this is a food source that the human body is built on, yet rarely receives on a daily basis. Instead, processed foods are what we reach for in times of hunger and our baseline nutrition doesn’t support our lifestyle choices.

A 1995 Nation Nutritional Survey reported that time, cost, convenience and availability were the main reasons we fail to eat 2 fruits and 5 vegetables every day. Throwing a handful of mixed frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries and blackberries) onto your cereal or into a smoothie for breakfast doesn’t take much time. They can be conveniently stored in your freezer and they are readily available at your local grocery store.

To boost your lunch with antioxidants simply add 2-3 vegetables when making your ham and cheese sandwich. It doesn’t take much time to slice up some red onion, tomato and mushroom or throw on some lettuce, cucumber and grated carrot. It’s even easier if you are buying one from the sandwich bar because it’s done for you. The cost really isn’t great and if you are prepared at home with a fridge full of veggies, or you’re buying lunch from the shop, it couldn’t be any more convenient. Fruit and vegetables are available all year round.

Life is busy. It’s up to the individual dancer to decide how important dancing really is to them and what commitment they are prepared to make on a nutritional level to reach their peak health and fitness. We are bombarded with and buy into the brilliant marketing campaigns promoting junk foods that are nutritionally void but fashionable to consume.

Consider whether you want to make excuses or take charge of your daily nutrition. When you practice regularly your dancing improves and when you don’t your progress suffers. Nutrition is much the same. Good nutrition will result in good health, and a healthier body allows you to be a stronger dancer.

Give yourself the best chance by building a strong machine. Be prepared for the health challenges that the dance life throws at you. Nutritious food is your friend and partner. Invest in your health and the returns will be well worth it.

Give your body what it needs to stay young and keep on dancing!

Don’t let time, cost, convenience and availability be the excuse for your poor health. If like most people you find it hard to be consistent on a daily basis and would like to boost your fruit and vegetable intake please visit

Paul Vander Straaten
Health & Fitness Consultant
Director of Healthaddiction Personal Fitness Training
Certificate IV Personal Trainer
Paul has been working in the fitness industry for 9 years. His focus for the last 6 years has been on nutrition and how important it is in achieving optimal health. He believes that nutrition is vitally important when it comes to good health and that a plant based diet must rule our daily nutritional plan if we are to live long and strong. Good health is easy and Juice Plus just makes it even easier.

Dance Informa online magazine and website are produced by Dance Informa Pty Ltd and Dance News International LLC. Any opinions presented in any of these media are not necessarily the opinions held by Dance Informa Pty Ltd or Dance News International LLC and its employees or directors. Dance Informa does not take responsibility for any information deemed to be incorrect.

Photo: © Mauhorng |

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