Preventing the Scars of Swungover

Introduction

What if I told you that you could go to a dance weekend and social dance all you want and minimize the normal physical repercussions? I’m saying no dehydration, no overly sore muscles, achy feet or joints. The physical ailments that used to plague you after a dance weekend before shall never plague you again. Start incorporating these habits when you travel and your lives will forever be changed! 

Ok, I’m getting a little carried away with my Matrix-like monologue but I’m SUPER excited about the information I’m going to share with you all.  At the Great Southwest Lindyfest and Lone Star Championships I took the opportunity to test a theory that I’ve had for a good while, as I’ve started to dive more into corrective exercise and nutritional supplementation in regards to my own training.  I figured there’d have to be a way to apply that knowledge in a manner to assist dancers, and then it hit me: RECOVERY.

What Does it Mean to be Swungover?

I figured I should probably define “swungover” as there could be dancers reading this who’ve never gone to a weekend event, dance camp, or danced nearly every song at a dance.  If you have done these things I’m sure you dealt with the soreness, aches, and pains that are common after swing dance events. This condition is what we call being Swungover.  My dance friends have defined the symptoms as extreme fatigue, sore muscles, and achey feet and joints. There’s a list of mental symptoms as well but I haven’t figured out how to deal with those. I find myself being sad that I won’t get to see my out of town friends at my next dance here in Dallas (you people know who you are).

Weekend Dance Event Protocol vs. Pre Dance Event Protocol

This article is split up into 2 sections with subsections underneath each one. The first one is about habits and things you can do during the dance weekend to help lower the physical scars that come with (as Bobby White puts it) “binge Jitterbugging.” The pre-dance event protocol mainly focuses upon the habits you can take on during the months leading up to a dance event to help prepare your body for the stress that it’s going to be put through during the event.

Weekend Protocol

Ok, I’m starting with the thing that most people will be able to adopt easily and that is weekend protocol. The weekend protocol is pretty much actions you can perform throughout the dance weekend to help prevent chronic aches and pains that you may have for a few days after the event has concluded. The four factors that are always my biggest concerns throughout the weekend are Sleep, Nutrition, Hydration and Stretching.

Sleep: Ok, I know most of you are thinking “How are you going to put sleep on there, man?! No one sleeps at exchange weekends, and especially not at Lindy Focus.” I know sleep is by far the hardest one to manage. I was trying to dance till 3 or 4 am each night at Lindyfest this past weekend, but still somehow get enough sleep to enable me to be up for classes and at least sit, observe, and take notes. We must remember that getting a good amount of sleep is what allows our body to repair itself after all that dancing, as extra protein molecules are produced. Sleeping will also improve one’s memory, so if you’re looking to retain that awesome variation pattern that Todd and Laura taught you or the concept Michael and Nina went over (Shout out to Mobtown!!!) you’re gonna need some sleep.   A lot of different sources that I’ve looked at agree that the average adult needs around 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  This article, Benefits of sleep, touches on other benefits of sleep. Though I know sleep is a rare commodity at events, as people tell me that the fact that I can get 6 hours each night is amazing, I dug up an article on the benefits of power naps. A lot of the benefits that you’ll read about are the same as a full night’s sleep, but if you sleep poorly during dance weekends taking naps in your spare time can spark creativity, boost learning, and lower stress. I’m totally taking a nap before my next competition, that’s for sure!!

Nutrition/Hydration: If sleep is the thing that recharges a dancer’s batteries, nutrition fuels a dancers engine. The food that you put into your body is absolutely crucial for your energy levels and recoveryProtein  plays a huge part in repairing your muscles which are working hard as you dance. Carbohydrates are a necessary and good energy source for your muscles (which continually contract during a song) and allow the body to metabolize (fancy word for burn) fat and energize the central nervous system. Also, don’t forget the under appreciated dietary fat that’s the most efficient energy source we have, and also helps us to absorb vitamins that are crucial to a lot of basic functions–most commonly fighting off free radicals in the body that cause us to get sick. Now nutrition is a tricky thing because by law as a Personal Trainer I cannot make a eating plan for y’all, but I can give general information on the direction you can go, so I’m going to let the Eat Well, Live Well Guide from Lifetime fitness speak for me: http://www.lifetime-weightloss.com/storage/Eat%20Well%20-%20Live%20Well.pdf (copy and paste the link if it isn’t clickable) The pdf gives general information on the each macro nutrient and good sources for each one. What I’m leaving out?

Of course, Andre Johnson, is hydration. Make sure you’re staying hydrated, people, because water is 60% of our body and aids in flushing toxins out of our main organs. The Mayo Clinic  recommends that men drink 13 cups a day or 3 liters and women drink 9 cups per day or 2.2 liters. Now this will vary by person due to body size and weight, but these are general guidelines. Now during events we need to be drinking more during exercise, adding 1.5-2.5 more cups…I say eff that and grab a big ole gallon jug and just take some swigs from it every 2-3 dances before going back out on the dance floor. This should be done regardless of if you’re thirsty or not. Once you’re thirsty you’re already putting yourself behind the 8 ball as you’ve lost 1-2 percent of water in your body. You have to be constantly hydrating as I shouldn’t have to remind people about the sweating that goes on at events. *Shudders* I still have nightmares of 2014 Kansas City Stomp sometimes. MY PANTS WENT FROM GREEN TO BLACK, PEOPLE! But it was a great event, though. Vine Street Rumble was a phenomenal band and I’m going back again this year. The organizers of 627 Stomp did a great job, so check out the website.

Supplments:

Now I did something different this event which I’d recommend for other dancers to give a shot, especially if you workout 20150312_123720[1]and take supplements. I totally recommend taking your protein powder and blender bottles with you. Also, a container of Branch Chained Amino Acids (BCAA’s). This is great stuff to use going into a late night, because the protein shake is a filling snack to get you back on the floor quickly and the BCAA’s help the muscles recover as well.  Pictured below are the supplements I took with me. I used Syntha 6 protein: 1 scoop is 22 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbs and L Glutamine (amino acid aids in recovery), and I have Lemon lime Amino 1 from Muscle Pharm, and a very potent BCAA blend–one scoop yields 10 grams worth of BCAA’s while most only yield 5 grams. Supplementing really kept me away from the “O my goodness, my legs are gonna fall off!” feeling.

Stretching: Now if there is anything I’d had to say was the real MVP of the weekend it was the fact that I actually took the  time to go through a post-dance stretching routine before heading off to bed. Like I said in my post about flexibility, stretching and Myofacial release can easily be overlooked because, to be honest, it’s kind of monotonous.  But so needed. Outside of improving flexibility stretching is crucial because it helps improve circulation of blood throughout the body, which is a big deal when talking about recovery. Improved blood flow allows for nutrients to be delivered to muscles and waste to be carried out of the body. Also, with the help of a foam roller you can combat pattern overload and myofacial impediment. This is when adhesions form in your soft tissue from from repeated movements and these will impede not only good movement but also stretching. Fascia encases your muscles, so if the fascia is impeded so is the muscle, which is why adhesions in it prevent smooth movement patterns.  Normally some type of joint pain is involved.  Achy knees, ankles, and feet anyone? Every night before leaving the ballroom I’d roll out on my foam roller and stretch the muscles I’d just rolled out.

Below is a playlist of the muscles that I roll out and stretch after dances:

I took various videos from different Youtube Channels that I utilized in researching for training clients or friends who have questions about certain things. So those are the things I did that kept me pretty upright during Lindy Fest. I’ll admit that two things that I’d change would be to have a multivitamin to keep my immune system up and going with the shortened sleep, and add a joint supplement to deal with inflammation. I had some mad wicked tendonitis flair up in my right knee and fortunately it didn’t affect me during my Jack and Jill Finals (videos to come).

Pre Event Protocol

Now in the tradition of having one blog post section be incredibly long and another being incredibly short, I think it’s only important to keep that going. Outside of the fact that all the above tactics should be habits that we should incorporate in our everyday lives and especially on our dancing days, I’m reflecting back on why I haven’t been incredibly sore after dance events. The number one thing I have to point that to is the amount of exercise that I do leading up to events. I predominately focus on resistance training with free weights, weight stack machines, and cable machines. Now the reason this is important is because I feel that I overload my body in the weight room which allows it to sustain the stressors of dancing over this long period of time.

If you go back and read how weight lifting can transform your dancing you’ll see I’ve discussed how weight training improves your bone density and tinsile strength of your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This makes you less susceptible to injuries as you continue to overload the muscular skeletal system. There are a number of different ways you can go about doing this. I have included one workout by request that takes minimal amount of equipment in my at home stabilization workout , which is a great start for people who’ve never taken on any type of resistance training. An even better way to go about this conditioning is to do basic body weight exercises in a circuit fashion rather then training in a horizantal loading fashion , where you do all the sets for a particular movement before moving to the next one. Circuit training or vertical loading saves times and does more for cardiovascular endurance but I think the horizontal loading does more for specific areas. Here’s an example of the training template I’ve been using from T-nation.com. I’ve been utilizing a Body building program because it utilizes heavy weight for strength but good volume and varied sets for endurance. For those who either don’t have access to a gym or equipment I’m posting 2 videos of a High Intensity Interval Training body weight workout and body weight circuit workout from Funk Roberts and Nick Williams.

I enjoy how he designs his workouts and explains them and you can do the workouts along with him.

And now for a fun workout featuring Nick Williams and Bobby White getting some gains!!

Shout out to Alexis Strickland from Houston, Texas for sending me this on Facebook

Conclusion

So for a little bit of recap for things to consider when you head to your next weekend event. Make sure you take some nutrient dense snacks to fuel your body and muscles, get as much sleep as possible and when you need to take a nap. Make sure you take a bit of extra time to stretch before you dance and after dancers, trust me your muscles and joints will thank you for this later. I’d totally recommend investing in a foam roller and tennis ball to perform the rolling techniques I have in the above videos. Those you can get at your local sporting goods stores and last and not least drink water early and often. If you do all of these things I’m sure your physical symptoms of being swungover will decrease dramatically.

I hope that covers enough information for y’all and hope this brings up a number of questions. Keep your eyes peeled for an article Yehoodi is putting out on Health and Lindy Hop as I was asked to answer some questions and provide advice for Lindy Hoppers all around our great scene. I look forward to it and hope y’all take away some great tips from this article.

Love ya’ll and God Bless 🙂

Strength and Conditioning classes at Swing Dance events

As I usually do on the weekends if I’m not working I’m just watching Lindy Hop videos on YouTube to get some inspiration for my dancing. Recently Stompology went down in New York and I had to check out the competitions to see what type of stuff the dancers were doing and pretty much seeing what I need to work on to be a better slow solo jazz dancer. I can dance really well to fast music but I’m nearly anemic when it comes to slow songs,0 so I always commend the finalist on their creativity at the slower tempos. Also, the things they think of to the faster songs, I hope to one day attend that event and compete. Anyways after watching one video I stumbled across a class recap titled Balance, Strength and Conditioning from Stompology featuring Juan Villafane and Evita Arce. It made me curious, so I clicked on it and took a gander and posted it in the blog so you can to.

And here are my thoughts accompanied by my awesome beard

 

 

In summary I’m super excited to see fitness classes at workshop events and hope to continue to see more. I’d love to see someone like Nick Williams to teach these but if you can’t get Nick and want this I’ll recommend myself I’m dead serious about this, I’ve put a lot of time into seeing how my sports performance training background can lend to this art form.  A Needs Analysis of Lindy Hop shows how much exercise can benefit your dancing as well as your life in general. Also, here’s my article on  Flexibility the youtube links you’ll have to copy and paste over to another window for some reason I couldn’t embed all of them. Hope you enjoyed this post as it wasn’t planned it just happened spur the moment. So comment with questions, arguments or just fill me in on what the class really totally entailed.

Love y’all and God Bless 🙂

Let’s talk about Flexibillity shall we

Introduction

Ok, I need to call foul on myself, I kind of sorta put the cart before the horse sort of speak. By talking about strength training, cardiovascular training and even posting a workout before I discussed anything about warming up or stretching.  So shame on me…if you haven’t guessed from the title, I’m going to be talking about flexibility today. Most of my material is going to be coming from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) because I liked how they categorized everything and made it easier to organize it. Also, it’s fits into my training philosophy and beliefs. Also, I just took my exam last Friday to be a certified personal trainer under that organization and I pass!!

NASM describes Flexibility as the ability to move a joint through it’s complete range of motion dictated by the normal extensibility ( capability to be elongated or stretched) of all soft tissues surrounding it. Now grant it I do have a picture of a friend of mine pulling off a full split in the middle of a underground solo jazz competition but really utilizing flexibility training as a means to improve overall movement and Neuromuscular efficiency or the ability of the nervous system to recruit the correct muscles to produce force, reduce force and dynamically stabilize the body’s structure in all three planes of motion. In normal speak your body functions properly to control itself on the dance floor, which is huge for proper technique, learning moves, floorcraft and overall injury prevention.

Flexibility Continuum

Ok, to be able to put flexibility in a manner that can be progressed and really cover all the aspects of it in regards to fitness and overall well being, I’m going to go over the flexibility continuum. This is NASM’s progressive approach to flexibility and in a way how I like to approach it. There are many other ways I just choose this one. Flexibility is divided into 3 phases Corrective Flexibility, Active Flexibility and Functional flexibility all of these utilize different techniques to improve neuromuscular function in hopes of improving muscle imbalances and improving motor neuron function.

Corrective Flexibility

This is designed to increase joint range of motion (ROM), Improve muscle imbalances and correct altered joint patterns. These can result to lack of movement or repeated patterns (pattern overload). This can result in altered patterns of body movement as trigger points develop in soft tissue known as fascia resulting in one muscle that is overactive (tight) and a under active muscle (weak).Which can create altered movements that can result in injuries and chronic pain. So corrective flexibility uses Foam rolling or self myofascial release covered in the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UQMLGvgf-0 this utilizes autogenic inhibition to cause muscle relaxation. Another technique used in corrective flexibility is static stretching and this is the type of stretching that is more commonly known as to holding out a stretch for like 10-20 seconds. Static stretching helps to lengthen shortened muscles to allow them to have better ROM and function. Many people should start here because it’s important to deal with any areas of chronic pain and loosening the muscles that are tight to alleviate that pain before really progressing in their training.

Active Flexibility

The next step of flexibility is the active portion just like corrective you’ll be utilizing myofascial release aka foam rolling. Straight form NASM’s Essentials of personal training which is available on Amazon. Active-isolated stretching is designed to improve the extensibility of soft tissue and increase neuromuscular efficiency by using reciprocal inhibition. This allows for the agonist and synergist muscles to move a limb through a full ROM while the functional antagonists are being stretched http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1gk_tHVxn4. Do This is good before dancing because it increases motorneuron excitability which is good when you’re about to be pulsing around the dance floor.

Functional Flexibility

Last but not least is functional flexibility here we’re still utilizing foam rolling on common areas that tend to get tight for us but we go into utilizing dynamic stretching to get the muscles prepared for movement. Dynamic stretching requires integrated, multiplanar soft tissue extensibility, with optimal neuromuscular control, through the full range of motion. or essentially movement without compensations. Also, known as movement prep dynamic stretching is utilized before athletic competitions. My partner and I have a warm up routine to music that we use to get ready for practice. It get’s our bodies going in all the different directions we could hit on the floor and also gets us pulsing warming up our ankles, knees and hips. Here’s an example warm up that’s not geared towards Lindy hoppers but it is dance minded http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUqWuFCOMMc. Remember if you have any compensations with any of these movements you MUST regress back to active stretching or corrective stretching because all that’ll happen warming up compensated movements is you getting injured.

Conclusion

So there we have it flexibility and it’s importance. As you noticed I didn’t address this subject till my 5th post, which shows how this can be easily overlooked. I’m going to be really getting serious about my own flexibility routine and will document the improvements I have utilizing it. Feel free to ask me any if not many questions. Love ya’ll and Good bless

Photo credit to Alex Buchalter photography Video Credits to OSR Physical Therapy, Dr. Mark Cheng, Running Times Magazine

Website resource: FreeDictionary.com and National Academy of Sports Medicine Essential of Personal Fitness Training.