The heat is upon us, and you don’t need to be told that there are humid days ahead. So be ready as summer problems can strike at any time, turning an uncomfortable experience into a disagreeable one. As a dancer you should stay safe as summer is the time when most shows and events happen. On how many will happen this time remains a big question.
Summer can be most difficult for a dancer as heat can cause fatigue and related problems. Excessive rehearsals in hot and humid weather can be exhausting. But remember, for an artiste it is the creative that gets the drive. So get rid of all your summer problems as soon as possible and try not to get bogged down with them. Summers are here and here’s how a dancer can protect oneself from the heat.
Some dancers have a serious problem with sweat all year round but most face it during the hotter months. Best is to fight it. Shower with an anti-bacterial soap and dry the troublesome areas thoroughly. Apply antiperspirant regularly, wear loose clothes and stick to cool cottons and linens, lightweight denims, chiffons, georgettes and voiles or cotton and linen blends. Light fabric will help you dance better. Wear lighter coloured clothes as they reflect sunlight. If you are practising outdoors, wear a hat to help control the temperature of your head and body and remember to drink lots of water to help your cooling system run better. Consider losing weight – if you are a well fed and a bit healthy dancer, you will tend to sweat more. Exercising boosts your body’s overall temperature control. Finally, yoga or other relaxation techniques help beat stress, also a cause of sweat.
Sweat is virtually odourless but bacteria use it as a breeding ground. Body odour is the smell of bacteria multiplying on the surface of your skin. Fight it by drying yourself after a shower and immediately apply antiperspirant. Or try a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water – one teaspoon of peroxide to eight ounces of water. Wipe this on affected areas with a soft cloth. Sweaty dance and workout clothes are often a cause of body odour. Finally, change your diet – fatty foods, oils, or strong-smelling foods can cause body odour.
Dancers are all about their foot movements and a foot odour is the worst for a dancer. Hope you know that there are over 2,50,000 sweat glands in our feet. Foot odour begins when moisture lingers on the feet. You can fight it by wearing open sandals which will keep your feet breathing. Use an antiperspirant for your feet – you can use the same one that you use for the underarms.
Also, wash your feet well while bathing and dry thoroughly. Then dab some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and apply it on the soles of your feet. However, don’t do this if you have cracks or open sores as it will burn. Smelly feet can also cause smelly shoes. So treat your shoes with a deodoriser. A home remedy for stinky feet involves steeping a pot of tea for five-10 minutes, letting it cool and soaking your feet in it for 10 minutes. The tannic acid in tea helps to reduce foot odour. Soap and water will remove the tea stains on your feet. Do this daily.
Dehydration means that your body doesn’t have enough water in it to keep it working right. Dry lips and tongue, headache, extreme fatigue, nausea and muscle cramps are telltale signs of dehydration. Another sign is not peeing as often as you usually do. Urine should be a pale yellow colour. Dark or strong-smelling pee can be a sign of dehydration. Fatigue is another sign.
Even mild dehydration – as little as a one to two per cent loss of your body weight – can sap your energy. That’s because excess sweat leads to loss of not just water but salts too. Muscles need a good electrolyte-water balance, so even mild dehydration makes us feel drained of energy. A dancer can fight it by a simple way and that is by drinking as much water, iced herbal tea and juice as you can. Drink water before, during and after shows and rehearsals, you can even drink water before you eat or drink anything else in the morning.
Carry a bottle of water with you everywhere and drink lots of non-caffeinated fluids such as tender coconut water, fresh lime water, lassi, buttermilk, milkshakes, jal jeera and aam panna. Alcohol and beverages like tea, coffee and soft drinks cause you to lose fluid rather than retain it, so best is to avoid them.
If you are performing in an open air place, and have to rehearse in the middle of the afternoon. Try and avoid a sun stroke. Heat stroke or sunstroke can occur when not enough sweat is produced to keep the body cool. Symptoms include nausea, dizziness, weakness, headache, pale and moist skin, weak pulse and disorientation. A dancer can easily fight it. A heat stroke can be managed, and heat exhaustion prevented, by seeking a cool, shaded place, drinking lots of fluids and sponging the body with water, if necessary. Cramps indicate a deficiency of electrolytes, so take in electrolytes through fruit or sports drinks.
Replace lost sodium through ORS (a pinch of salt, a few drops of lemon juice and a spoon of sugar added to a glass of water) and do not massage the cramped muscle. Just support the limb. If this doesn’t help, the sunstroke could develop into heat stroke. Symptoms include a steep rise in body temperature, hot, dry skin, lack of sweating, very fast pulse and serious disorientation. Get a doctor at once and meanwhile cool the co dancer by immersing her or him in a tub of cool water, or placing her or him under a cool shower. Do this continuously till the body temperature drops. Protect yourself: Use antiperspirant, wear clothes in light shades, wear sunglasses and hats.
The ultraviolet (UV) light of the sun can trigger a host of ophthalmic maladies including dry, itching eyes, viral conjunctivitis and burning and eye discharge. Dancer can fight it by wear sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection.
Skin troubles solved
As a dancer we show skin at many events and shows, wearing dance costumes when our skin is not in a good condition can be embarrassing. Summer can aggravate pigmentation. Home remedies are the best for it. Stir the juice of half a lemon into one cup of plain yoghurt. Keep in the fridge and apply like a cream before going to bed. You can even apply a thin coat of moisturiser over it after five minutes.
Sunburn can leave the skin red and painful. In severe cases, the skin may form blisters and the person may suffer from swelling, fever and chills. Best would be to avoid repeated sun exposure. But if that is not possible then apply cold compresses or immerse the area in cool water, apply moisturising lotion and leave the blisters alone – don’t break them.
Acne is very common in summer, as heavy sweating leads to the swelling of the skin’s keratin protein, which in turn blocks the pores. The key to avoid aggravation lies in repeated cleansing. Cleanse your face six-seven times a day, and drink lots of water. Exfoliate regularly. Finally, stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible.
Excessive perspiration damages cells on the skin’s surface, trapping sweat beneath the skin, where it causes bumps known as prickly heat. To avoid it keep the area cool and dry. Don’t use antiperspirant, lotion, insect repellent or powder. Apply calamine lotion or prickly heat powder to relieve itching.
As a dancer remember you cannot avoid summer but you can surly avoid the negative effects of it on you and your performance. So do keep my suggestions in mind and rock this summer like a cool cucumber.