This story originally appeared in the August/September 2014 issue of Pointe.
As a dancer, you know you should drink plenty of water, but do you know why? It keeps nearly all of the body's major systems in working order. And if they're not functioning properly, your dancing could suffer.
- The body uses water to help you regulate your core temperature via perspiration. When you're running back-to-back variations in rehearsal, water keeps you from getting overheated. Sweat is a good thing.
- Want a better battement? All of your joints, including the hips, knees and ankles, need water to stay lubricated. Drink up to use your full range of motion.
- Out of breath? Blood—which is about 80 percent water—carries oxygen and vital nutrients through the circulatory system to your cells. Plus, water moistens the air you breathe.
- If you're dehydrated, your balance is likely to suffer. That's because the inner ear needs to maintain a fluid balance to function properly.
- Feeling sore? Dehydration could be a culprit. Getting enough water can reduce muscle soreness and hasten recovery time.
- Without enough water, a dancer's healthy diet would be for naught. H2O helps dissolve minerals from food so the body can use them.
Beat the Heat
If you're dancing in high temperatures, like at an outdoor summer festival, a studio without air conditioning or under searing stage lights, it's even more important to get enough water, since your risk of dehydration and heat illness increases. Don't wait until you're feeling thirsty to drink liquids—that's a sign you may already be dehydrated. Muscle cramping, dizziness, elevated body temperature, nausea, clammy skin and extreme thirst are all symptoms of heat illness—a host of conditions ranging from heat rash, caused by excessive sweating, to life-threatening heat strokes. If you're experiencing these symptoms, Dance/USA's Task Force on Dancer Health recommends applying an ice pack to your armpit and groin to cool your body's core temperature.
By the Ounce
How much water should you drink on a performance day?
2–3 hours before: 7.5–10 ounces of cool liquids
10–20 minutes before: 6–7 ounces
While you're dancing: 6–8 ounces for every 30 minutes of activity
Within 2 hours after the show: 23 ounces for each pound of body weight lost from sweating during dancing