Sunday, 9 June 2013

Nutrition and Touring

Dance UK Nutrition and Touring seminar, Royal Society of Medicine - 8th April
 

Dance UK hosted a Nutrition and Touring seminar at the Royal Society of Medicine, offering dancers and managers advice on how to maintain health while travelling. Here I relay the suggestions of Mhairi Keil, Performance Nutritionist and Consultant for the English Institute of Sport.
 
Dancers train hard for big performances and are always expected to dance at their best. But the pressures of touring can impact their performance – the different environments, exposure to different foods and viruses, body clock confusion and tiredness can all reduce performance quality and increase the likelihood of illness and injury.
 
Possible Problems When Touring
 
·       Disruption of sleep patterns and sleep quality
·       Gastro disturbances, such as irregular bowel movements, indigestion or feeling  heavy/bloated
·       Reduced appetite
·       Headaches
·       Compromised immune system and greater chance of becoming ill
·       Decreased concentration and poor cognitive function
·       Reduced physical performance and neuromuscular function
·       Feeling of fatigue
·       Reduced reaction time

Company Management Planning and Preparation

·       Book flights to arrive at sensible times in the destination country
·       Provide at least one day of rest time post-flight
·       Bear in mind that the more time zones crossed, the more rest time dancers will need to recover, and that it is easier to adjust when travelling west and harder when going east
·       Pre-arrange flight meals to ensure healthy options are provided
·       Find out about hotel/accommodation facilities in advance
·       Research the locations and opening times of local food stores and restaurants
·       Provide information to dancers on facilities and amenities in the touring location
·   Check out baggage allowances and consider transporting dancers’ personal food supplies in freight
·       Take a cool box so that dancers can store food safely during rehearsals
·      Bring a kettle, microwave and/or food blender so dancers can prepare food as required
·       Tailor the hotel menu or other provided food in advance to suit dancers’ needs
·       If possible, book self-catering so dancers can cook for themselves
 
Dancer Planning and Preparation

·       Pack for the worst-case scenario
·       Plan nutrition in advance for the day of travel (including a high-fibre snack such as prunes)and don't rely on service food
·       Purchase supplements in advance if required
·       Bring along any specific nutritional items that will help you to perform at your best and can be packed in your suitcase
·       Pack any other items you need to feel comfortable on tour eg. pillow
·       Bring an eye mask, ear plugs and compression garments
·       Pack anti-bacterial hand foam
 
Day of travel
-        Eat a good meal before boarding the plane
-        Eat high-fibre, nutritious snacks on-board to encourage good digestion
-        Drink low-energy fluids on-board to maintain hydration
-      Set your watch to the destination time and adjust sleep/wake and habits accordingly – if you can't sleep, wear an eye mask to maintain darkness, or if it's daytime, try to stay awake
-        Avoid alcohol and caffeine (a couple of cups of tea/ coffee is fine)
-        Wear compression garments – it helps muscle recovery
-        Make sure to move around and stretch while on the plane
 
On arrival
-        Behave according to the new time zone
-        If you have to sleep during daytime, nap for 30-40 mins maximum
-        Use caffeine as required throughout the day, but avoid consumption for five hours before bed
-        Eat small meals that are high in fibre and polyphenols – even if you have no appetite
-        Engage in light exercise
-        Maintain a good fluid intake
-        Go to bed at normal time and use eye masks, ear plugs and anything else you need to have a comfortable sleep
-        If you wake in the night, don't turn on the lights until an appropriate time
 
Next day
-        Consume low GI, high-fibre foods

On short stopovers (1-2 days), adapting to circadian system is not advised. Dancers should maintain the departing body clock and use short naps and caffeine as required. For longer stays, dancers should adjust to the new time zone via exposure to light. When travelling westbound, dancers should expose themselves to light and engage in gentle exercise in the evening and early part of night. For eastbound travel, light exposure and exercise is recommended in the early morning.

Nutrition Tips

·       Muscles like a sponge in recovery mode ie. immediately following training – good carbs and proteins (such as those found in a simple glass of milk) are needed to put energy back into the muscle and enable recovery

·       It may be fresher and cheaper to buy pitta bread and fillings and make your own sandwich, rather than choosing a pre-prepared one

·       Good breakfast options in hotels include smoothies, museli and scrambled egg

·       Items to put in your suitcase: protein bars, protein shake sachets, crackers, tinned fish, pre-cooked grains, cereal bars, probiotic supplements, multivitamins, energy or electrolyte drinks, dried fruit and nuts

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