Overcoming the hustle physically

Do the hustle! Do do do do do do do do do! Do do do do do do do do do!

Stop! Abort mission!


Burnout is the state of mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress (aka the hustle). Burnout can manifest physically—often with symptoms that we might write off as “weak” or “incapable.” These may include recurring injuries, fatigue, and insomnia. Taking care of yourself through adequate nutrition, cross-training, and rest/recovery can help combat the physical consequences of the hustle. We turned to Jess Spinner—founder of The Whole Dancer—to help us break down some of the misinformation thrown at us by diet, fitness, and wellness culture.

RN: It seems like everyone is giving fitness and nutrition advice and it’s all so overwhelming. How do I know what sources to trust online and on social media?

JS: Be wary of advice coming from influencers. A lot of advice and noise around nutrition is coming from people without any nutrition education who might even be getting paid to promote a specific product or nutritional supplement. 

Registered Dietitians have received the most formal education in nutrition science. However, within that field you’ll still find a varied approach. Some still perpetuate messages of calorie counting and diet culture, while others have a more forward thinking view.

Health Coaches, like myself, have varied levels of training and experience. While I see a personal responsibility to seek out continuing education in nutrition, mindset, and behavior change, not all take a proactive approach. Whoever you’re following, check out their bio, about page, and testimonials so you’ll have a clear idea of their training, approach, and the results they help their clients achieve.

RN: What are the most common nutritional deficiencies amongst dancers?

The biggest thing dancers have to stay aware of when it comes to deficiencies is overall food intake. It’s very common for dancers to underfuel and that naturally leads to potential for deficiencies. The most common nutritional deficiencies for dancers are shown, by scientific studies, to be iron, calcium, and vitamin D.
To avoid deficiency, include varied food sources and speak with your doctor about a multivitamin or additional supplementation. Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” is harder to come by in food, so consider spending some time in the sunlight each day.

RN: How can inadequate nutrition lead to illness and injury?

JS: Simply put, macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) all play essential roles in maintaining health. When you don’t consume enough food to provide what you need, this can result in an impaired immune response, less energy, and less strength.

Overuse injuries are common for dancers who try to perfect their craft by performing the same skills over and over again. Foot fractures, ankle sprains, and lower back problems are sadly quite typical for pre-professional and professional dancers alike. 

To avoid the physical consequences of overtraining, it’s important to:

  • Warm-up before rehearsals and performances.
  • Eat well and stay hydrated.
  • Cross-train in complementary forms of exercise such as Pilates, yoga, strength training, and swimming.
  • Take time to rest and recover (at least 1-2 days per week).

Remember, more does not always equal better. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Train smarter, not harder.” Proper fueling, adaptability, rest, and recovery are also all part of the equation. If you find yourself suffering from constant injuries, fatigue, or some of the other physical symptoms we’ve discussed, reach out for help from a qualified dietician or health coach. To learn more about Jess and The Whole Dancer, visit www.thewholedancer.com.

Photo: Lauren Brophy by Rachel Neville

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