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10 Healthy Snacks for the Busy Dancer

by KATHI MARTUZA

When searching for a healthy snack, a good rule of thumb is to find one that will give you a healthy protein, a healthy fat and a healthy complex carbohydrate.  With this in mind, here are my top 10 favorite healthy snacks for busy dancers on the go! 


1. Avocado toast

Toast 1 piece of good-quality gluten free or whole wheat bread, smear with half an avocado, sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy!

2. Hard boiled eggs

Cover desired number of eggs with an inch of water in a pot with a lid. Bring to a boil on the stovetop on HIGH.  Turn burner down to low and simmer for 7 minutes. Rinse in cold water.  Peel, add a little salt and pepper and enjoy!

3. Hummus and carrots

Scrub carrots clean, dip in your favorite hummus and enjoy!

4. Banana/apples/celery with nut butter

Prepare your banana, apple slices or celery sticks, smear with 1-2 Tbsp. of your favorite nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower, soy) and enjoy!

5. Popcorn with coconut oil

Heat 2 Tbsp. of organic coconut oil in a large pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot put a kernel or two of popcorn into pot and wait for them to pop.  Add ½ cup popcorn kernels, cover with lid and gently shake over the burner until it all pops – about 5 seconds – and enjoy!

6. Avocado with salsa

Slice an avocado in half.  Keep the pit in half of the avocado and store in a plastic bag/container in the refrigerator for later.   Take the other avocado half and fill the “cup” with your favorite salsa.  Eat with a spoon and enjoy! 

7. Edamame

Boil edamame in a large pot of boiling water on the stovetop according to the directions on the package.  Drain, rinse with cold water, sprinkle with a little salt, and enjoy!

8. Nuts, dried fruit and dark chocolate chips

Mix together raw or roasted almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, with dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, mango, pineapple…add a few dark chocolate chips and Voila! Your very own trail mix to enjoy!

9. Grains with olive oil, soy sauce, siracha

Make grains such as brown rice, quinoa or millet, ahead of time. Divide into small portable containers, toss with 1-2 Tbsp. good quality olive oil, a little soy sauce to taste and, if you like spice, try adding a little Siracha sauce (can be found in the Asian section of most supermarkets).   Take a spoon with you and enjoy!

10. Protein/veggie “rolls”

Take thin sliced oven-roasted chicken/turkey breast and lay flat.  Put 1 piece of good quality cheese in the center, along with a slice of avocado and a slice of cucumber…roll it up and enjoy!

Hurricane Preparedness

(CNN) In areas where hurricanes can strike, it's a good idea to have a closet or a place set aside for storm preparedness storage.   There, you can keep items you'll need in case disaster strikes suddenly or you need to evacuate.

It's also important to know the difference between a watch and a warning, and when they are issued for tropical storms and hurricanes.

A hurricane warning means hurricane conditions -- sustained winds above 73 mph -- are expected somewhere within the warning area, and it is time to finish preparation to protect people and property.   "Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical storm-force winds" -- 39 to 73 mph, the National Hurricane Center says.

A hurricane watch means hurricane conditions are possible in the watch area, and is issued 48 hours before the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.

A tropical storm warning means tropical storm-force winds are expected somewhere in the designated area within 36 hours.   A tropical storm watch means such conditions are possible within 48 hours.

What to do as storm approaches

-- Download an application to your smartphone that can notify people where you are, and if you need help or are safe. The Red Cross has a Hurricane App available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store as well as a shelter finder app. A first aid app is also available.

-- Use hurricane shutters or board up windows and doors with 5/8-inch plywood.

-- Bring outside items in if they could be picked up by the wind.

-- Clear gutters of debris.

-- Reinforce the garage door.

-- Turn the refrigerator to its coldest setting in case power goes off. Use a cooler to keep from opening the doors on the freezer or refrigerator.

-- Fill a bathtub with water.

-- Get a full tank of gas in one car.

-- Go over the evacuation plan with the family, and learn alternate routes to safety.

-- Learn the location of the nearest shelter or nearest pet-friendly shelter.

-- Put an ax in your attic in case of severe flooding.

-- Evacuate if ordered and stick to marked evacuation routes if possible.

-- Store important documents -- passports, Social Security cards, birth certificates, deeds -- in a watertight container.

-- Have a current inventory of household property.

-- Leave a note to say where you are going.

-- Unplug small appliances and electronics before you leave.

-- If possible, turn off the electricity, gas and water for the residence.

List of supplies

-- A three-day supply of water, one gallon per person per day.

-- Three days of food, with suggested items including: canned meats, canned or dried fruits, canned vegetables, canned juice, peanut butter, jelly, salt-free crackers, energy/protein bars, trail mix/nuts, dry cereal, cookies or other comfort food.

-- A can opener.

-- Flashlight(s).

-- A battery-powered radio, preferably a weather radio.

-- Extra batteries.

-- A first aid kit, including latex gloves; sterile dressings; soap/cleaning agent; antibiotic ointment; burn ointment; adhesive bandages in small, medium and large sizes; eye wash; a thermometer; aspirin/pain reliever; anti-diarrhea tablets; antacids; laxatives; small scissors; tweezers; petroleum jelly.

-- A small fire extinguisher.

-- Whistles for each person.

-- A seven-day supply of medications.

-- Vitamins.

-- A multipurpose tool, with pliers and a screwdriver.

-- Cell phones and chargers.

-- Contact information for the family.

-- A sleeping bag for each person.

-- Extra cash.

-- A silver foil emergency blanket.

-- A map of the area.

-- Baby supplies.

-- Pet supplies.

-- Wet wipes.

-- A camera (to document storm damage).

-- Insect repellent.

-- Rain gear.

-- Tools and supplies for securing your home.

-- Plastic sheeting.

-- Duct tape.

-- Dust masks.

-- An extra set of house keys.

-- An extra set of car keys.

-- An emergency ladder to evacuate the second floor.

-- Household bleach.

-- Paper cups, plates and paper towels.

-- Activities for children.

-- Charcoal and matches, if you have a portable grill.   But only use it outside.

What to do after the storm arrives

-- Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.

-- Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.

-- Use the Facebook Safety Check to let family and friends know you're safe.

-- If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.

-- Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.

-- Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.

-- Stay out of any building that has water around it.

-- Inspect your home for damage.   Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.

-- Use flashlights in the dark.   Do NOT use candles.

-- Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it's not contaminated.

-- Check refrigerated food for spoilage.   If in doubt, throw it out.

-- Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.

-- Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.

-- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.

Sources: American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Hurricane Center


8 Ways to Make Pointe Pain-Free

By Rain Francis of Dance Informa

If you’re a professional dancer wearing pointe shoes all day long, you may experience some pain with pointe work.  However, it is possible for pointe to be pain-free, especially for the beginner.  If you have your shoes fitted correctly, and achieve the right level of strength and mobility, you shouldn’t be experiencing any real pain.  Rain Francis teamed up with renowned dance physical therapist Lisa Howell of Perfect Form Physiotherapy to bring you this list of 8 ways to make pointe pain-free.

1. Get the right shoes.

Correctly fitting pointe shoes are absolutely essential.  Once your feet have stopped growing, and have found a shoe that works for you, it may be more convenient to purchase them online, but for anyone who is still growing and developing, and especially for your first few pairs, make sure you see an experienced pointe shoe fitter, who has access to a wide range of styles.  If the shoe is fitted correctly, it will be firm around the front part of the foot but should not be squashing your toes in together too much, as this can lead to ingrown toenails.    If the box of the shoe is too wide, the foot will slide down into the box while en pointe, putting pressure on the toes, which can lead to bruised toe nails.  If the box is too short it can cut in under the joint of the big toe and may contribute to the formation of a bunion.  Always ensure that the wings of the shoe come up to the level of your big toe joint.   As everybody’s foot is different, there is no one perfect shoe that is right for all dancers, and it is essential that all students at a school have shoes that specifically fit their individual foot type, even if this means that they are in different brands.

2. Be prepared.

Every student should undergo a pre-pointe assessment with a qualified practitioner, for example a physical therapist who specializes in dance, or a private lesson with a very experienced dance teacher.  This is important to ensure that you have the required range and strength before you attempt pointe work.  Otherwise, you risk injury and developing incorrect technique, which can take a long time to correct.  Be patient – if you don’t pass your pointe assessment the first time around, listen to the advice from your assessor and work on all of the elements that are identified before your next assessment. It may only be another six weeks of sticking to your exercises before you are able to get your first pair of pointes! Refer to Lisa Howell’s The Perfect Pointe Book for some exercises that will really help with your preparation for pointe work.

3. Strengthen correctly.

Ask your teacher for a structured program to improve your strength en pointe gradually.  It is not just about being up on pointe or down on flat – it’s imperative to learn how to really articulate the foot in the shoe in every single rise and every tendu.  Working through a graduated rise and being able to control your lowering is the most essential part of pointe work and will improve your strength and technique while helping to prevent injuries.  For more information on this, check out the My Beginner Pointe program that Lisa developed with ex Australian Ballet Principal Artist Vicki Attard.

4. Use the right shoe for your level.

The shoes you wear should be appropriate for your level of pointe work.  As a beginner, while just working at the barre, a softer shoe will help you learn to articulate the foot correctly in the shoe.   When you move into doing things like multiple turns in the center, a stronger, more rigid shoe may be more appropriate.  As you progress further with your pointe work, you may find you need a few different pairs of shoes – a really supple one for barre work and softer, more Romantic solos; and a stronger, more stable one for center work, or stronger variations, which require multiple hops en pointe.

5. Look after your feet.

Foot hygiene is extremely important, yet often neglected.  If you don’t clean your feet and take care of your pointe shoes properly, you’re at risk of all sorts of nasties, such as blisters, ingrown toenails and fungal infections.  Treat your toe pads or ouch pouches like socks: Remove them from your shoes and wash them frequently.  You sweat a lot through your feet and wearing the same dirty pair of toe pads every day without letting them dry out can be a direct road to pain! If blisters do develop, make sure you deal with them hygienically and cover them up for class rather than letting the raw skin rub on the inside of your pointes.

6. Use appropriate padding.

There are many different options on the market these days, but when choosing padding for your toes, look for something that has minimal fabric underneath the toes.  Too much bulk here can interfere with the placment and working of the feet.  Any padding you use should be minimal.  The biggest issue with pain en pointe is usually due to the toes clawing in the shoe, and the knuckles rubbing on the underside of the box.  Most dancers then feel they need to put something in place to stop the rubbing.  However, it is much better to deal with the clawing in the first place, by developing the articulation of the foot and strength to the correct muscles to keep the toes long in the shoe.   Clawing indicates the incorrect use of the long toe flexor muscles which can lead to problems in the back of the ankle, such as posterior impingement.  If your toes are clawing, focus on learning how to articulate the foot better during all aspects of class.

7. Keep your shoes strong enough.

If you leave any padding in your shoes after dancing, the sweat may soften the glue of the box.  This can cause the shoe to weaken and will result in your foot sinking down too far in the shoe.   Always make sure to dry out your shoes thoroughly between each use, especially if you live somewhere that gets very humid.  Having a couple of pairs that you cycle through during the week will help extend the life of the shoe, especially if you are dancing on pointe every day.  You can also use a glue, such as Hot Stuff or Jet Glue to help re-stiffen the middle of the shank to extend its life.  Also, each pointe shoe may have a few reincarnations; it may start off as a performance shoe, then become a class shoe, then a rehab/pointe exercise shoe, before finally the shank is pulled out and it becomes a demi pointe shoe for class work.  Make sure you have shoes that are each stage, so you’re not using your stronger class shoes to do the really deep articulated exercises, especially when you’re doing more than 4 or 5 hours of pointe a week.

8. Pre-weaken your pointe shoes.

Pre-weakening (sometimes called ‘breaking in’) your new shoes in the areas you want it to weaken will help to stop it from breaking in the middle of the shank.  It is important not to cut the shank, heat it or wet it; these things may have been done in the past but are simply not relevant any more.  Pre-weaken the shank in the demi pointe area a little so that you can rise through it correctly, and also soften in underneath the heel so that the shank can sit in close to the arch when you are en pointe.  You can check out a video on how to do this here.  Just using your feet to weaken the shoes can cause them to break in the middle of the shank, which will make you start sinking down and back into the shoes, meaning you’ll need to replace them more often.  The shape of everyone’s pointe is different, so measure where the breakpoint is in your foot (where the heel becomes the arch) then weaken the shank of the shoe at this point so that it sits flat against your arch.  It will feel better, look better and can also help extend the life of your shoe.

7 Ways to Refresh Your Dancer Feet

By Katherine Moore of Dance Informa


For dancers, their feet are some of their most prized possessions. Dancers bend them, stretch them, turn on them and jump on them, sometimes for hours a day.   And at the end of a long dance day, those feet probably end up a bit stinky, too.   So make sure you take care of them and treat them well with these tidbits of advice.   You need them in tip-top shape to dance!

Warm Water Soak with Epsom Salts

After a long day of rehearsing, soothe your tired toes with a warm water soak. Add some Epsom salts for an extra step in reducing inflammation.   Epsom salts smooth the skin, neutralize foot odor and ease muscle cramps.   Try salts infused with lavender for some extra aromatherapy.   You can use a portable small tub or even sit on the edge of your bathtub and let the warm water and steam do its work.

Essential Oil Spray

At the end of the day, or even on breaks in between rehearsals, it can be nice to give your feet a little mist with an essential oil spray.   You can find foot sprays in many health and body stores, or you can also buy essential oils and mix and match yourself.   A combination of peppermint and tea tree oil diluted with water can be a great way to perk up your aching feet midway through rehearsal.  Try lavender diluted with water at the end of the day for a more relaxing experience.

Self-Massage

Every once in a while, treat yourself to a professional foot massage, but when time and funds don’t allow for that luxury, you can do it yourself! Try these steps:

1. Sitting comfortably on the floor or in a chair, cross one ankle over the opposite knee so you can easily reach your foot with both hands.

2. Beginning at the ball of the foot, begin to knead your thumbs in circles away from each other.

3. Continue working through the foot in this way into the arch and heel.

4. Give the back of your heel and Achilles tendon a gentle rub with the thumb and first finger.

5. Thread one hand through the toes of your foot (as if you were interlacing your hands together).  Circle the hand in one direction 5 times while giving a gentle pull to the toes, and then reverse and go the other direction.

6. Repeat with the other foot.

Take Your Legs Up the Wall

After being upright all day, take a moment when you get home to go upside down.   This is great practice for improving circulation and reducing inflammation in achy feet, and it will also lower your blood pressure.   Lay down on the floor next to a wall and simply extend your legs long above you so the heels are resting comfortably against the wall.  You can take some soft padding under the pelvis as well.  If you’re lacking in available wall space you can also try this next to your bed with knees bent over the edge.

Petroleum Jelly and Socks

Modern dancers often experience deep cracks around the toes from dancing barefoot, especially in dry climates or seasons like winter. These can be painful and severely limit dancing in class and rehearsal.   The best way to care for these cracks is to soften the skin and prevent infection.   Try placing some petroleum jelly around the cracks at bedtime, put on a pair of clean white socks, and snuggle in for a good night of sleep.   To prevent infection, regularly clean the cracks and apply antibiotic ointment.

Ice Bath

For those extra long days of rehearsal when your feet are really painful, a short ice bath can help you recover. Using a small portable tub with cool water and a few ice cubes, dunk one foot in the bath for about five minutes before changing to the other foot.   Be careful here to not overdo it; you don’t want to freeze your feet!

Take a Day Off!

Nothing will help your tired feet more than a little common rest and relaxation.   When a day comes by where you don’t have to be in class or rehearsal, stay off your feet! Read a book, watch a movie, and know that your feet will thank you for it tomorrow.