Ballroom Dance > My Legs Get So Tired......

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by standardgirl, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. standardgirl

    standardgirl New Member

    My legs get so tired in standard, that sometimes they become "soft" non-supportive. Is there any excercise that will help me with this problem?
    I use to be a competitve figure skater skating couple of hours everyday, so I do believe I have strength on my legs. My legs only get tired in standard, but not in latin.

    I only danced for an hour today, and after abour 40 minutes, my legs are so tired that I was barely able to complete my lesson. (we did tango, v waltz, waltz, and quickstep). My legs died after waltz which is about 40 mins after I started. I was wearing 1.5 inch staandard shoes, which is not that high either.
  2. BodiesByBija

    BodiesByBija New Member

    Well, the good thing is, it sounds like you are dancing 'in your legs'.
    Usually when your legs are dying, it is because they are temporarily fatigued, and no matter what your mind tells them, they are spent until they have time to recover.

    When you weight train, you intentionally work your muscles to temporary failure. Then you must give them a couple days to recover. During this time the fibers repair, ATP builds back up in the muscles, glycogen can replenish in the muscles, and you're ready to go again.

    The trouble with dancing every day is you get overuse syndrome, and sometimes overuse injuries.

    To speed your recovery you need to be adequately hydrated, perhaps using a sports drink with electrolytes, and to eat adequate calories, including carbohydrates. When people shun carbohydrates, they are depriving their bodies of the very energy blocks needed to put glycogen into the muscles and liver where they can be accessed for athletic purposes.

    Maybe you should take a day or two off to recover. Then if you find you're still fatiguing too soon, consider doing specific leg strengthening exercises like squats, lunges, wall-sits to build up your quad strength.

    Good luck with it!
  3. MadamSamba

    MadamSamba Member

    Great answer, BBB. Chiwenl, how long have you been dancing? I remember when I started, for several months my feet were in agony after a very short while. Now, some time on, they're better and both my mind, body and, in particularly, feet have much more stamina. Now the pain only sets in after MANY, MANY hours.
  4. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    What helps for me is to arrive early for my lessons, and do some warm-up exercises beforehand. I also incorporate some pilates based exercises for when I work out at home.
  5. standardgirl

    standardgirl New Member

    I have beening dancing since June this summer, not really long. I dance about 12~15 hours a week, and I feel like my feet are never recovered.

    What warm up exercise do you do?
  6. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    I'm going to disagree. Dancing is not about hard physical work, so much is it is about precise and appropriate actions. Heavy leg usage, in particular the kind of large leg division that would require powerful thighs, really does not have a place in sub-championship standard. Because there is another body right in front of yours, you don't have the room to create a large leg swing unless you sacrifice your posture or hold - or learn to first use your your standing foot to propel your body forward over the moving leg. Rather than strenghening the thighs to enable leg division, I've been encouraged to strengthen the feet and ankles, to improve my balance at the extreme edges of my feet and allow me to delay the leg swing as much as possible, so that the moving leg stays more under my body and less in my partner's way.

    As an experiment, tie your knees together and try walking. Of course this is awkward, but you can learn to use your feet and ankles to actually take a moderately respectable step. Obviously you won't actually limit yourself like this when dancing, but if you precede the division you do use with the same kind of foot and ankle action you had to use when you couldn't divide you legs, you can cover a lot more distance without having to use your legs so heavily that you compromise your posture or hold.

    And it will be your feet, not your legs that hurt...
  7. BodiesByBija

    BodiesByBija New Member

    Good points Chris. It is true if you use your feet and ankles correctly you do not incur such strain on the quads. Most people tend to fall through the feet too quickly and don't have the control to portion out the weight release properly.

    And dancing is not about brute strength. In fact, if you look at the top male dancers in the world they often tend to be rather skinny fellows. Their actions are exquisitely precise in technique, however, so they waste very little effort. However, you can bet your Saturday night tickets in Ohio that their quadriceps are wonderfully strong.

    It takes months, years, decades to refine the simple beautiful actions necessary for good ballroom dancing. In the mean time, folks tend to drop on 'one' and other things that unduly fatigue the quads.

    So yes, DO strengthen your feet and ankles, but more importantly, focus on using them better, to save your thighs.

    So your comments are as usual, insightful and true.
  8. standardgirl

    standardgirl New Member

    Just tried that, for the first 3 seconds, I didn't know how to walk. Then I figured out. It's A LOT of work on my feet especially the ankles......
    Is that what I should be doing when dancing? (using my ankles?) Does this hold for Latin as well?
  9. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Thanks Bija - I agree the top dancers have great leg strength and do in fact achieve a large leg division. But the big difference is that they keep the leg division in perfect proportion to foot usage, wheras it's so easy to fall into the trap of copying the obvious part (leg division) while neglecting the less apparent part (standing foot usage).

    You want to incorporate that action, though it of course isn't the whole story since your knees will only be tending toward each other, not tied. Also, there is an ellusive balance between using the standing leg sufficiently, and holding on so long that you fall without control onto the moving one...

    Yes and no... things are somewhat different, and I'll leave it to others to explain in detail. My attempts at jive were impeded for quite some time because I kept sending my body from the standing foot, wheras that dance seems to be to require the action to be more on the arriving foot - though the idea of letting the leg swing naturally under the body rather than thrusting it out still applies to an extent.

    Good dancing is very efficient... it can still be work if you crank it up to 110% for competition, but ordinary every day dancing should be pretty easy when you learn to do it with precisely the right motions. And even if you are doing it efficiently, over-use can still be an issue, particulary with smaller muscles that you haven't yet developed.
  10. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    It depends, on how much time I have.
  11. Vince A

    Vince A Active Member

    I believe that everyone here has given answers that may help you . . . let me add a few tidbits:

    During an ECS at the World championships, my legs totally gave out and I could barely stand up. I leaned over to my Pro, after not completing a part of our routine, and told her "I quit." My legs couldn't hold me up any more. She grabbed my hand harder and said, "Let's finish this dance!." I did, but the judges saw me stop, which knocked me out of any chance of finishing in overall first place.

    My points???

    1. We practiced nearly everyday prior to Worlds' . . .
    2. I ran 2 miles every morning . . .
    3. I walked at lunch everyday . . .
    4. I didn't eat a big breakfast that morning of the competition . . . (I went on the floor at 6 AM and the ECS was at 4 PM), so I was out of gas.
    5. I wasn't drinking water, which forces lactic acid out of your muscles, and keeps the quads and hamstrings from cramping up . . .
    6. I didn't eat during the day to "keep fuel in my tank."

    In other words . . . I was over-ready, over-trained, under-watered, under-fed . . . I probably peaked about two or three days earlier!

    Take notes on what everyone has said here . . . something may help.

    PS. My feet are always sore. I dance way too much!
  12. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    avoiding inter-heat cramp up?

    This is a problem that I am having at a social studio where we practice our routines. The DJ typically alternates between 4-5 latin dances then 4-5 standard, with the occasional line-dance set. Pretty typical I think. We dance all out for the standard and then sit out the latin/line. However, each time I get up to dance a new set my legs have seized up and it takes at least a dance, sometimes more, before they are back in action. Since the social studio mirrors heats at a comp I am worried that the same thing is going to happen there and I am always going to screw up the waltz.

    I found this interesting thread from quite a while back that, if you have exhaustion issues is not too long and truly worth a read (great post on dancing through the feet by CS).

    The last by vinceA is interesting with regards to muscle exhaustion (also an issue for me). He attributes pooping out during a competition to the following errors:

    4. I didn't eat a big breakfast that morning of the competition . . . (I went on the floor at 6 AM and the ECS was at 4 PM), so I was out of gas.
    5. I wasn't drinking water, which forces lactic acid out of your muscles, and keeps the quads and hamstrings from cramping up . . .
    6. I didn't eat during the day to "keep fuel in my tank."

    Any advice on avoiding inter-heat seize up? I can test these at the studio...
  13. waltzgirl

    waltzgirl Active Member

    I usually don't sit between heats, but walk around a bit. If there's a long gap, I'll sit then get up a couple of dances before my next heat and walk to keep my legs warm and limber.
  14. elisedance

    elisedance New Member

    I've tried that - but it only helps a bit. I wonder if its an age thing - it takes longer to limber up when you get older. Still, I feel as if its more than that, a real lactic acid buildup and whether leggings will help. Vince's comment about water intake and lactic acid release is a novel suggestion - but I'm not sure that its based on physiology.
  15. meow

    meow New Member

    IMO, eating carbs the night before, like pasta is good.
    Then you must have decent sized breakfast. If you don't usually have any sugar during breakfast, on a comp day it is a must.
    You should always have plenty of water during the day, even sipping when not thirsty.
    And, you must eat during the comp. Not eating does not 'keep fuel in the tank.' You need to eat to replace the fuel you are using, just like a car.

    My kitten used to go to practices that were similarly run, although they would do 5 latin and not the standard. The trick is to drink some water and continue to move about until you go back onto the floor for your next set. Don't sit down. It won't fix the problem overnight but you will certainly notice very quickly how much better your legs will feel.:grin:
  16. White Chacha

    White Chacha Active Member

    Hi Elsie, my PT (was recently getting treatment for plantar fasciitis) made the exact point about drinking enough during exercise. She said water intake helps the body carry the lactic acid away from the muscle tissue. The logistical problem with drinking all that water is the obvious problem of getting rid of it. Depending on the comp facilities, this can be a real nuisance.

    I would also suggest stretching at least the calf muscles, the quads and the bottom of the feet after each heat. This can help fight off the shortening of the muscles which may be part of what you're feeling when you get up. I was very diligent about this during practice today and it made a world of difference.
  17. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Stretch the quads! I stiffened up right in the middle of the tango in my bronze championship at Manhattan, to the point my pro asked when we finished "What happened there?" It got better, but I'd hit a wall right there, from being too tightened up and probably also from not drinking enough water. When I'm skating, especially for a test, I try to have a water bottle around and you see lots of skaters with bottles on the boards during practice. We're not overheating (usually), we're trying to keep from cramping.

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