Getty Images

5 Wellness Trends Decoded for Dancers

These days, the wellness industry knows no bounds. Whether it's speeding up injury recovery or calming audition-related anxiety, trendy wellness practices promise remedies for all kinds of dancer ailments. But are these treatments effective—or safe for dancers? Here's what you should know about five popular wellness trends before getting your goop on.


Infrared Saunas

Interior of an infrared sauna, with glowing red lights

Getty Images

Infrared saunas, which use dry heat and light color therapy, promise a host of benefits, including detoxification, improved immunity, pain relief, and stress reduction. "The basic principle of infrared is that you're using a light spectrum instead of heat, and the light spectrum creates heat within the body without it being unbearably hot in the room," says former dancer and certified athletic trainer Megan Richardson.

There isn't much research to support all of the alleged benefits. While light therapy supposedly "detoxes" deep levels of tissue, "I don't know if your skin is doing that much detoxing—that's not its purpose," said Richardson. That said, infrared saunas might help dancers relax and ease their muscle and joint pain recovery.

Vitamin IV Drips

An IV bag with drip on a blurred background

Getty Images

Intravenous therapy is a staple in hospitals, but "drip bars" brand themselves as cures for dehydration and jet lag, with a bonus instant healthy glow. "IVs on demand" make house calls, and usually cost $155-185 per "vitamin cocktail."

For most dancers, vitamin IV drips probably aren't a great idea. Richardson cautions that piercing blood vessels with external instruments puts dancers at risk of infection. Plus, she notes, a high dosage of vitamins can be toxic. Richardson frames IV therapy as appropriate only for dancers with gut absorption issues, which must be diagnosed by a doctor.

Tuning Fork Therapy

Hands holding a tuning fork and rubber puck for tuning fork therapy

In tuning fork therapy, tuning forks are tapped and their vibrations are applied to the body to improve circulation in certain targeted areas. Often paired with massage or acupuncture, tuning forks could be helpful for dancers who are "unconsciously but actively holding tension in their muscles," Richardson says. "I do believe in sound therapy. There are certain frequencies that are supposed to be a little bit more aligned to nature and to our body." And there's little chance that the relatively gentle vibrations will do your dancing body any harm.

Adaptogens

Adaptogen herbs arranged in a circle

Getty Images

Adaptogens—edible herbs that help the body resist and recover from physical and mental stress—are part of both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicinal traditions. Commonly used adaptogens include ginseng, turmeric, ashwaganda, rhiodolia, schisandra, and reishi. And there is some evidence to back up their effectiveness.

Richardson says dancers can try adaptogens for 30 days if they're eating and sleeping properly and yet "their tank feels empty." However, "We shouldn't be living on adaptogens," she cautions. The goal is to create and maintain balance.

Breathwork

A woman sits outdoors and takes a deep breath

Getty Images

Breathwork involves using conscious breath patterns that direct the brain to adjust the release of stress hormones like cortisol. The practice is believed to reduce anxiety, increase alertness, and boost the immune system. "We know that when we're in pain, for example, we change our breath patterns," Richardson says.

Richardson highly recommends breathwork to improve dance performance, injury recovery, digestion, and even sleep. It's free and accessible, and beginners can start with podcasts and YouTube for guidance. "I think breathwork is incredibly powerful because it's one of the only ways we can control our autonomic nervous system," Richardson says.

Latest Posts


Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Alexandra McMaster

Start Your Dance Day With This Delicious Berry Breakfast Crisp Recipe

When it comes to breakfast, I want it to be easy and convenient but still taste delicious. My Berry Breakfast Crisp is just that. You can bake the crisp on the weekend as meal prep, then enjoy it throughout the week cold or warmed in the microwave. It freezes well, too!

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Liam Scarlett with Marianela Nuñez and Ryoichi Hirano during a rehearsal of his Swan Lake at The Royal Ballet. Andrej Uspenski, Courtesy ROH

Choreographer Liam Scarlett Has Died

Over the weekend, news broke that 35-year-old choreographer Liam Scarlett, a former artist in residence at The Royal Ballet, died suddenly at his home in England. "It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic, untimely death of our beloved Liam," Scarlett's family said in a brief statement. "At this difficult time for all of our family, we would ask that you respect our privacy to enable us to grieve our loss."

The cause of death was not disclosed.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks