Importance of Rest Days in Irish Dance
Updated: Apr 13
As dancers, we often struggle with the idea of taking a “rest day.” With your countdown to the next feis or major constantly notifying you how many days there are before you get on stage, taking a full day to not dance seems like a complete waste of a perfectly good training opportunity. However, rest days are vital to both physical and psychological recovery. When utilized properly, this recovery allows you continue training at the highest level possible in preparation for the big day.
When you train, whether you are doing your Target Training or going to dance class, your body breaks down your muscles in order to use the fuel stored in them. With repeated training and insufficient rest periods, your body exhausts its fuel storage and your dance performance (and overall health) is negatively impacted. Allowing yourself time to rest and recover will not only help accelerate muscle regeneration, but will also decrease your overall fatigue and risk for injury (Irvine et al, 2011).
One great activity to include on rest days to accelerate your physical recovery is foam rolling, or self myofascial release. Foam rolling can help relieve muscle tightness and soreness that causes restricted range of motion in joints. Additionally, foam rolling can help increase blood flow to your sore muscles—which means your muscles are getting more of what it needs, like oxygen, while getting rid of what’s causing soreness (Walker, 2016).
Irish dance is a stressful sport. Not only do we expect our bodies to perform at 100% through long dance classes almost year-round, the psychological stress of preparing for big competitions or even going to dance class takes a toll on our bodies. Pushing through these workouts takes an incredible amount of mental energy—and this energy is just as important to replenish as physical energy. Taking a day to step back from Irish dance and relax will leave you mentally refreshed and ready to come back swinging the next day.
A perfect rest day activity that can help improve your mental game is mental imagery. Mental imagery is the process of dancing your rounds, in your head, like you would onstage at your next competition. This allows you to practice getting in the “zone,” so to speak, and mentally learning how it feels to dance each round with perfect technique.
Remember, taking rest days is all about finding the balance that works best for YOU! Sometimes all you need to do to improve your dancing is take a day off, so learn to listen to your body.
Not sure where to start with foam rolling or mental imagery? Check out the Target Training Online Institute for recorded guides to walk you through both! Your first month of training with the Trainer subscription is always FREE with the code 1MONTHFREE.
Irvine, S., Redding, E., & Rafferty, S. (2011). Dance Fitness. International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, 2011. Retrieved from: https://www.iadms.org/general/custom.asp?page=303
Walker, O. (2016). Foam Rolling. Science for Sport, 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.scienceforsport.com/foam-rolling/.