Whether You're Dancing with the Stars or Your Valentine, the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA) Recommends Certain Steps to Keep You Safely On Your Feet

Contact: Robin Waxenberg - (212) 489-8006 rwaxenberg@nyc.rr.com Ellen Satlof - (214) 637-6282, ext. 159 ellen@nata.org DALLAS, February 1 – As millions of Americans are tuning in, and turning on, to ballroom dancing, the nation’s newest craze is energizing teens, boomers and seniors alike. Many are discovering a form of weight-bearing exercise that can be both enormously fun and beneficial. To keep first-time (and lapsed) ballroom dancers safe and injury-free, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), a not-for-profit organization that represents 30,000 members of the athletic training profession, has developed a list of do’s and don’ts. “Dancing can help build bones, improve posture and prevent osteoporosis, as well as increase a person’s confidence and well-being,” said Megan Richardson, MS, ATC, with the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. “This is something fans of ‘Dirty Dancing,’ ‘Strictly Ballroom’ and ‘Shall We Dance’ can equally feel good about. The following tips will benefit those who can’t wait to beat it to the dance floor.” * Gotta Dance? Get that Blood Pumping First: Do a light warm up activity to raise your heart rate and help your muscles become more flexible. Take a brisk walk to the dance studio; climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator to class; or simply circle the perimeter of the studio a few laps before your class gets started. * 5,6,7,8! Getting Started: Find a reputable dance studio. Start with a beginner class and work up to the more challenging levels. Your teacher will be able to guide your progress once you get started. * Stepping Out: Ask your teacher what type of shoes he/she recommends. Heeled shoes can be inappropriate for beginners until a solid foundation in technique and strength is established. Sneakers can cause too much friction between the dancer and the floor. Flat, “jazz-oxford” type shoes are often suggested. * Dressing Up: Start off with simple practice clothes and slowly progress to more elaborate dresses or tails. Clothing for dance class should be comfortable and form-fitting (e.g. yoga or Pilates-esque clothes) to allow free movement. * Extra Conditioning: Supplementing your dance classes with Pilates or yoga is an excellent way to complement and prepare your muscles needed for dance. * On Your Toes: Dancing in heels can be precarious, so building strength in the entire lower extremity and core muscles is essential. Practice standing on one foot for one minute at a time to improve balance. Also, rise up onto the balls of your feet 20-30 reps at a time. You can do this while standing in line or watching television. * Practice, Practice, Practice: Sticking with a dance class over time will tone your body, heighten your focus and give you a great sense of satisfaction as you master steps that seemed impossible when you began. And remember to have fun as you achieve your dance and fitness goals. * Necessary Nutrition: Drink plenty of water or a sports drink, such as Gatorade, before and after class to prevent dehydration. Eat small amounts of nutrient-dense foods, such as almonds and raisins, if your class lasts longer than an hour or two. * AnyBody Can Do It: Everyone can enjoy the benefits of dancing, whether you’re a teen or senior citizen. It’s a great way to improve posture, preserve bone density and prevent osteoporosis, as well as sharpen mental skills and body awareness. * Taking Center Stage: You will walk taller and feel incredible with the knowledge that you are doing something that is great for your body and so much fun. All that moving around will release endorphins and give you a better sense of well-being. * Show ‘Em What You’ve Got: Share time and laughs with a friend or significant other as you get fit, or go alone and meet lots of fun, interesting people. Check your local newspaper or Internet listings for dance nights and take your new moves out for the world to see. About the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA): Athletic trainers are unique health care providers who specialize in the prevention, assessment, treatment and rehabilitation of injuries and illnesses. The National Athletic Trainers' Association represents and supports 30,000 members of the athletic training profession through education and research. www.NATA.org. NATA, 2952 Stemmons Freeway, Ste. 200, Dallas, TX 75247, 214.637.6282; 214.637.2206 (fax).

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