I’m taking a two month off-season from dancing. Yup… no dancing for two months.
Sacrilegious, I know. Hear me out:
About a week or two before I entered Set it Straight 4, I decided the workshops on the following day were going to be my last raw training session for a while. It gave me some comfort knowing I was about to take a break, so I ended up training a bit harder and enjoying it more. But in training harder, I reminded my self why I was planning on taking my break in the first place. Once again, I flared up my neck injury and re-awakened the trigger points that have been causing me grief for months. The week off I took over Christmas just wasn’t enough (I must admit, it hadn’t been a real week off, since I spent one evening training with CrazySmooth in Ottawa).
Upon returning home to after the holidays and began training for the battle, I realized something. Since I started dancing some 7 years ago, I haven’t taken more than a week or two off from training. And I’m not getting any younger! My awesome recovery abilities seem to be slowing down… damn it! I am still learning!!!
But, I’m falling apart. Hmmm, let me see… the biggest issue was my neck; it would tighten up on the left and become sore for days after practicing just a few headspins and halos/tracks (I’m not great at them, a contributing factor). Even using my head in windmills was killing it. Upper back/left shoulder blade was killing too. Then there was my right shin, what seemed to be acute tendonitis. My lower back, similar to my neck, pained occasionally in the lower right. Right elbow bursitis. Both thumbs sore (probably more from work).
So, I humbly decided that the I have to take a solid two months off, and just hit the gym, build strength, and re-hab my injuries.
Please, share your opinions with me… I want to see what I stir up in the B-Boy community. B-Boys aren’t exactly exercise physiologists, even though they fancy themselves ‘experts’ in controlling their own bodies. But, despite the impeccable control B-Boys may have over their bodies actions and artistic expression, they must humble themselves to the realities of what is going on inside their bodies… on the level of human biochemistry and physiology.
Two important concepts here: Over-training and Periodization. I will discuss them both in detail in the future. Basically:
Over-training: Burn out. Oh… man… I’d say most people who are involved in a sport or even just like going to gym often are over training. Or at least not training smart. If you feel you have been getting more and more tired, and progressing less, maybe even getting worse… do yourself a favor and don’t wait for me to write an article. Read the Wikipedia link I just posted.
Periodization: Although aware of it, I have always been bad at this… and I know a lot of dancers are too. Being artists that thrive on skills, we want to be good at everything, at the same time. However, to learn something, its better to concentrate on different things while letting other things sit or just maintain. About EVERY sport in the world does this… why not us?
Periodization brings me to the concept of a B-Boy Off-Season. In sports, off-season is common. Typically young kids get summers off (er… used to anyway). Upper level pro athletes take off-season and stop practicing altogether, and just go to the gym and get stronger/re-hab. They perform so much and so intense during the ‘on-season’, they really need the break. That’s cool for them, because they are already amazing and in the top-tier of what they do. They have their skills. However, dancers generally don’t want to give themselves a break. Keeping your skills is so important, and your body must be trained like a musician practices their instrument. You don’t see musicians taking off-seasons… But although the body is a dancers instrument, what you are doing with your body is as physically demanding as any sport.
But will you lose your skills taking a couple months off a year? Sure, you may fall behind your peers in practice after one to two months. But over the course of many years, strength training and dealing with your injuries will likely help you, making it easier and more realistic to train harder. You can also take the time off to introspectively re-evaluate yourself as a dancer artistically. Time you would usually spend dancing can be used to dig for good music, read books, or try other forms of art. This can only inspire you.
But ultimately, it isn’t to make yourself a better dancer, its to rejuvenate your energy and experience complete physical recovery.
So far its been a month since I have had a real dance practice. Every now and then I’ll find my self top-rocking at home when I hear a dope song. Next week, I have a couple shows in local schools (I worry about my conditioning! but I can’t turn down the opportunity, inspiring youth is perhaps my #1 priority in dancing).
Otherwise, I am enjoying my time off. Feels a little less stressful not worrying about making it to practice. One less thing to worry about. And I am really giving this working out thing a good go. I’m getting stronger, and feeling much less pain everywhere. I’m gonna rock this for another month and then hit dancing hard again, training for another battle in Halifax. I’m really excited for this. I’ll write in a couple months and let you know how it all worked out.