Apr 29, 2021 in DIS-TANZ-SOLO

After the cold, hard facts of my survey analysis, I thought it would be a good idea to balance this out with something more personal. I thought it would be a nice idea to open my gym bag and introduce you to my secret weapons when touring.

I have tried to include studies further below that deal with the respective items and provide the necessary scientific background. However, since the research on some of the topics is still quite young, please note that my tips are most of all based on my own experience gathered over many years of working as a performer. In the end, everyone must decide for themselves what works best for them.

I would like to point out that I am in no way sponsored by any of the featured brands. In cases where I nevertheless refer to a particular product, this is because I either have exclusive experience with that one specific brand or genuinely find the product in question preferable for my personal purposes.

Kneipp Intensiv Wärme Balsam

My Secret Weapons: Kneipp Intensiv Wärmebalsam
This warming cream from the German brand Kneipp works wonders when it comes to keeping your muscles warm for a longer period of time. Make no mistake, the cream in no way replaces a proper warm-up before work, but it is a very helpful support during long rehearsal days on cold theatre stages or dragging performance days. Its warming effect lasts for quite a long time, especially if you move after application. The cream has really become a cherished gift for colleagues abroad.

Leukotape Classic

My Secret Weapons: Leukotape Classic
This super sticky sports tape has saved me many times over the years, for instance, when it comes to stabilizing and medializing my kneecap after overexertion or taping pesky cracks on my feet. The great thing about this tape is that the longer you leave it, the stickier it gets. So I always buy at least one roll well in advance and leave it in my bag for a few months before I touch it. I really haven't found any other tape that will hold a full day of rehearsal. It's available in white, black, and a few other colors - unfortunately, there's no skin-tone option, but it's very easy to cover up if you want to use it during a performance.

Magnesium Citrate

My Secret Weapons: Solgar Magnesium Citrate
Magnesium is probably the supplement that is most common among dancers anyway. I only included it in my list to point out what I look for when buying. Dietary magnesium comes in many forms and magnesium oxide and citrate are arguably still the most popular options. Since a bunch of studies have shown that magnesium citrate has a much higher bioavailability (meaning it can be absorbed better), that's what I go for. The recommended dietary allowance (by the NIH) for magnesium for adults is 310–420mg depending on age and gender. Note that this refers to elemental (!) magnesium. You should find the amount of elemental magnesium on the packaging. For example, if your supplement label states "420mg Magnesium (as magnesium citrate)" it should contain 420 mg of actual magnesium. However, if the label says "420mg Magnesium citrate," this means the entire compound is 420mg, of which only a small percentage is elemental magnesium.

Resistance Bands

My Secret Weapons: Intey Resistance Bands
You obviously can't generate the same load as with a real weight workout, but resistance bands are still a helpful option when you're on the road (or as long as gyms are closed during the pandemic). My resistance bands are from Intey, but there are a myriad of other manufacturers and while the prices may vary, the quality doesn't seem to differ as much. They usually come in 4 resistance levels (Red: 5-35 lbs / Black: 25-65 lbs / Purple: 35-86 lbs / Green: 50-125 lbs).

Skins Compression Tights

Skins Compression Tights
I'm aware that I'm starting to sound like an influencer, but SKINS compression tights have really changed my professional life. SKINS is an Australian brand and something like the pioneer of compression sportswear. The idea is that the tights can improve recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage by creating an external pressure gradient, thus reducing the space available for swelling. Other suggested benefits include enhanced blood flow that may aid the removal of waste products like lactic acid. I regularly wear them during or after rehearsal, depending on the circumstances, and I have experienced a significantly reduced amount of delayed onset muscle soreness since.

Theragun Mini

My Secret Weapons: Theragun Mini
The Theragun Mini is the newest addition to my travel bag. It's a percussion massage gun that is arguably more effective than a foam roller or a massage ball when it comes to self-myofascial release. It is definitely a great alternative if you are traveling and do not have the opportunity to get a full professional deep tissue massage. It is super easy to use and very quiet. There are budget options that typically vary in the amount of force applied, speed range, and noise level, but since I only know the original Theragun, I cannot make any alternative recommendations. Theragun further offers vibration therapy devices such as vibrating foam rollers or massage balls.
Please feel free to let me know what your favorite travel items and must-brings are. And don't forget to tell me why. I'd be curious to know if I'm missing out on something!

Further Reading

Frontiers in Physiology

An Evidence-Based Approach for Choosing Post-exercise Recovery Techniques to Reduce Markers of Muscle Damage, Soreness, Fatigue, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review With Meta-Analysis

by Olivier Dupuy, Wafa Douzi, Dimitri Theurot, Laurent Bosquet & Benoit Dugué
(Frontiers in Physiology, April 2018)

The aim of the present work was to perform a meta-analysis evaluating the impact of recovery techniques on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), perceived fatigue, muscle damage, and inflammatory markers after physical exercise. Three databases including PubMed, Embase, and Web-of-Science were searched using the following terms: (“recovery” or “active recovery” or “cooling” or “massage” or “compression garment” or “electrostimulation” or “stretching” or “immersion” or “cryotherapy”) and (“DOMS” or “perceived fatigue” or “CK” or “CRP” or “IL-6”) and (“after exercise” or “post-exercise”) for randomized controlled trials, crossover trials, and repeated-measure studies. Overall, 99 studies were included. Active recovery, massage, compression garments, immersion, contrast water therapy, and cryotherapy induced a small to large decrease in the magnitude of DOMS, while there was no change for the other methods. Massage was found to be the most powerful technique for recovering from DOMS and fatigue. In terms of muscle damage and inflammatory markers, we observed an overall moderate decrease in creatine kinase and overall small decreases in interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein. The most powerful techniques for reducing inflammation were massage and cold exposure.

Journal of Physiological Anthropology Cover

Comparison of Metabolic Substrates between Exercise and Cold Exposure in Skaters

by Jung Hee Hong, Hyun Jeong Kim, Ki Jin Kim, Katsuhiko Suzuki & In Seon Lee
(Journal of Physiological Anthropology 27/5, September 2008)

To test the effect of a cold condition on metabolic substrate and possible development of muscle injuries, short track skaters and inline skaters took rest and submaximal cycled (65% VO2 max) in cold and warm conditions for 60min each. Blood glucose (BG), triglyceride (TG), free fatty acid (FFA), and total cholesterol (TC) were determined to investigate the effect on energy metabolism. To estimate possible muscle injury in the cold condition, creatine kinase (CK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), and myoglobin (Mb) were also measured. TG and FFA levels were increased during exercise in the cold condition, but were unaffected by the difference of skaters. Of the myocellular enzymes, CK was significantly higher during the transition from submaximal exercise to recovery phase in a short track skater compared with inline skater group, indicating a higher physical strain. Additionally, the level of Mb in the inline skater group significantly elevated during recovery phase in the cold compared with in the warm condition. It is concluded that exercise caused stress that was dependent on the ambient temperature. Therefore, exercise in the cold condition altered the circulating level of energy substrate and increased muscle injuries.

Sports Medicine Cover

Compression Garments and Recovery from Exercise: A Meta-Analysis

by Freddy Brown, Conor Gissane, Glyn Howatson, Ken van Someren, Charles Pedlar & Jessica Hill
(Sports Medicine 47/11, November 2017)

Adequate recovery from exercise is essential to maintain performance throughout training and competition. While compression garments (CG) have been demonstrated to accelerate recovery, the literature is clouded by conflicting results and uncertainty over the optimal conditions of use. A meta-analysis was conducted to assess the effects of CG on the recovery of strength, power and endurance performance following an initial bout of resistance, running, or non-load-bearing endurance (metabolic) exercise. Change-score data were extracted from 23 peer-reviewed studies on healthy participants. Recovery was quantified by converting into standardized mean effect sizes (ES). The effects of time, pressure and training status were also assessed. The largest benefits resulting from CG were for strength recovery from 2 to 8 h and >24 h. Considering exercise modality, compression most effectively enhanced recovery from resistance exercise, particularly at time points >24 h. The use of CG would also be recommended to enhance next-day cycling performance.

BJSM - The Journal of Sport Exercise & Medicine Cover

Compression garments and recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage: a meta-analysis

by Jessica Hill, Glyn Howatson, Ken van Someren, Jonathan Leeder & Charles Pedlar
(British Journal of Sports Medicine 48/18, September 2014)

The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of compression garments on recovery following damaging exercise. A systematic review and meta-analysis was conducted using studies that evaluated the efficacy of compression garments on measures of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), muscular strength, muscular power and creatine kinase (CK). Studies were extracted from a literature search of online databases. Data were extracted from 12 studies, where variables were measured at baseline and at 24 or 48 or 72 h postexercise. Analysis of pooled data indicated that the use of compression garments had a moderate effect in reducing the severity of DOMS, muscle strength, muscle power and CK. These results indicate that compression garments are effective in enhancing recovery from muscle damage.

The Journal of International Medical Research Cover

Does vibration benefit delayed-onset muscle soreness?: a meta-analysis and systematic review

by Xingang Lu, Yiru Wang, Jun Lu, Yanli You, Lingling Zhang, Danyang Zhu & Fei Yao
(Journal of International Medical Research 47/1, January 2019)

Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a symptom of exercise-induced muscle injury that is commonly encountered in athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Vibration is being increasingly used to prevent or treat DOMS. We therefore carried out a meta-analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of vibration in patients with DOMS. We searched nine databases for randomized controlled trials of vibration in DOMS, from the earliest date available to 30 May 2018. Visual analogue scale (VAS) and creatine kinase (CK) levels were set as outcome measures. The review included 10 identified studies with 258 participants. The meta-analysis indicated that vibration significantly improved the VAS at 24, 48, and 72 hours after exercise, and significantly improved CK levels at 24 and 48 hours, but not at 72 hours.

Integrative Medicine Research Cover

Effects of environmental temperature on physiological responses during submaximal and maximal exercises in soccer players

by MiHyun No & Hyo-Bum Kwak
(Integrative Medicine Research 5/3, September 2016)

Although thermoregulation is effective in regulating body temperature under normal conditions, exercise or physical activity in extreme cold or heat exerts heavy stress on the mechanisms that regulate body temperature. The purpose of this study was to inves- tigate the effects of environmental temperature on physiological responses and endurance exercise capacity during submaximal and maximal exercises in healthy adults. Nine male soccer players participated in this study. In this study, three environ-mental temperatures were set at 10 ± 1◦C, 22 ± 1◦C, and 35 ± 1◦C with the same humidity(60 ± 10%). The participants cycled for 20 minutes at 60% maximum oxygen uptake (60%VO2max), and then exercise intensity was increased at a rate of 0.5 kp/2 min until exhaustion at three different environmental conditions. The results led to the conclusion that physiological responses and endurance exercise capacity are impaired under cool or hot conditions compared with moderate conditions, suggesting that environmental temperature conditions play an important role for exercise performance.

The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association Cover

Effects of local vibration therapy on various performance parameters: a narrative literature review

by Darrin Germann, Amr El Bouse, Jordan Shnier, Nader Abdelkader & Mohsen Kazemi
(The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 62/3, December 2018)

The therapeutic effects of local muscle vibration (LMV) remain controversial due to a lack of specific protocols. This review was conducted to better understand the effects of various LMV application protocols. A comprehensive literature search was performed based on title and abstract and a set of predetermined inclusion criteria. Study quality was then evaluated via the PEDro scale. 23 articles were returned initially, and 21 studies were evaluated. The average PEDro score was 5.97/10. Reported outcome measures included muscle activation, strength, power, and range of motion / flexibility. The frequency and amplitude of LMV ranged from 5 – 300 Hz and 0.12–12 mm respectively, and duration from 6 seconds – 30 minutes. Most studies found that LMV elicits beneficial changes in the mentioned outcome measures. However, the methodological procedures used are quite heterogeneous. Further research is needed to understand the optimal application of LMV.

BMC Nutrition Cover

Higher bioavailability of magnesium citrate as compared to magnesium oxide shown by evaluation of urinary excretion and serum levels after single-dose administration in a randomized cross-over study

by Dominik Kappeler, Irene Heimbeck, Christiane Herpich, Natalie Naue, Josef Höfler, Wolfgang Timmer & Bernhard Michalke
(BMC Nutrition 3/1, December 2017)

The development of several disorders, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and osteoporosis, has been linked to suboptimal dietary magnesium (Mg) intake. In this context, a number of studies have tried to investigate which Mg compounds are best suited for Mg supplementation. This study confirms former study results showing a higher bioavailability of the organic Mg compound Mg citrate compared to Mg oxide. It can be concluded that Mg citrate, similar to other organic Mg compounds, may be more suitable than Mg oxide to optimize the dietary magnesium intake.

Current Sports Medicine Reports Cover

Magnesium and the Athlete

by Stella Lucia Volpe
(Current Sports Medicine Reports 14/14, July/August 2015)

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral and the second most abundant intracellular divalent cation in the body. It is a required mineral that is involved in more than 300 metabolic reactions in the body. Magnesium helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function, heart rhythm (cardiac excitability), vasomotor tone, blood pressure, immune system, bone integrity, and blood glucose levels and promotes calcium absorption. Because of magnesium’s role in energy production and storage, normal muscle function, and maintenance of blood glucose levels, it has been studied as an ergogenic aid for athletes. This article will cover the general roles of magnesium, magnesium requirements, and assessment of magnesium status as well as the dietary intake of mag- nesium and its effects on exercise performance.

scandinavian journal of medicine and science in sports cover


by Sébastien Racinais & Juha Oksa
(Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports 20/3, October 2010)

This review focuses on the effects of different environmental temperatures on the neuromuscular system. During short duration exercise, performance improves from 2% to 5% with a 1 °C increase in muscle temperature. However, if central temperature increases (i.e., hyperthermia), this positive relation ceases and performance becomes impaired. Performance impairments in both cold and hot environment are related to a modification in neural drive due to protective adaptations, central and peripheral failures. This review highlights, to some extent, the different effects of hot and cold environments on the supraspinal, spinal and peripheral components of the neural drive involved in the up‐ and down‐regulation of neuromuscular function and shows that temperature also affects the neural drive transmission to the muscle and the excitation‐contraction coupling.

Journal of Sports Science & Medicine Cover

The Acute Effects of a Percussive Massage Treatment with a Hypervolt Device on Plantar Flexor Muscles’ Range of Motion and Performance

by Andreas Konrad, Christoph Glashüttner, Marina Maren Reiner, Daniel Bernsteiner & Markus Tilp
(Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 19/4, December 2020)

Handheld percussive massage treatment has gained popularity in recent years, for both therapeutic use and in sports practice. It is used with the goals of increasing flexibility and performance, but also to accelerate recovery. However, until now, there has been no scientific evidence, which proves such effects. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a 5-min percussion treatment of the calf muscles on range of motion (ROM) and maximum voluntary contraction (MVC) torque of the plantar flexor muscles.

International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance Cover

The effects of compression garment pressure on recovery from strenuous exercise

by Jessica Hill, Glyn Howatson, Ken van Someren, David Gaze, Hayley Legg, Jack Lineham & Charles Pedlar
(International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 12/8, January 2017)

Compression garments are frequently used to facilitate recovery from strenuous exercise. The purpose of this study was to identify the effects of two different grades of compression garment on recovery indices following strenuous exercise. Forty five recreationally active participants completed an eccentric exercise protocol consisting of 100 drop jumps. Following the exercise protocol participants were matched for body mass and randomly but equally assigned to either a high compression pressure group, a low compression pressure group, or a sham ultrasound group. Participants in the high and low compression groups wore the garments for 72 h post-exercise; participants in the sham group received a single treatment of 10 minutes sham ultrasound. Measures of perceived muscle soreness, maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), counter movement jump height (CMJ), creatine kinase (CK), C-reactive protein (CRP) and myoglobin (Mb) were assessed before the exercise protocol and again at 1, 24, 48 and 72 h post exercise. Data were analysed using a repeated measures ANOVA.

Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research Cover

To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

by Shagufta Imtiyaz, Zubia Veqar & M.Y. Shareef
(Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research 8/1, January 2014)

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) has post exercise onset of 8-10 hours with soreness peaking 24-48 hours post exercise. DOMS often develops after resistance training especially after the intensity and volume of training are increased, the order of exercise is changed or a new training regime is performed. Vibration therapy effectively improves muscle performance which may prevent DOMS through preventing sarcoma disruption. Considering all the facts and discussions the aim of the present study is to compare the effect the vibration therapy and massage in preventing DOMS and to evaluate the change in muscle soreness, Range of Motion (ROM), Maximum Isometric Force (MIF), 1 Repetition Maximum (1RM), Serum Creatine Kenase (CK) level and Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) level.

Archivos de Medicina del Deporte Cover

Vibration as preventive therapy and treatment of delayed onset muscle soreness. A systematic review

by Claudia Carrasco Legleu, Ramón Candia-Luján, Lidia Guillermina De León Fierro, Ofelia Urita Sánchez & Kevin F. Candia-Sosa
(Archivos de Medicina del Deporte 33/3, May 2016)

In recent years the vibration therapy has received great importance in the treatment of delayed onset muscle soreness. Pain that occurs between 12 and 24 hours after an unaccustomed exercise. So the aim of the present study was to determine the preventive and therapeutic effect of vibrations on delayed onset muscle soreness. Conducted a searching in PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, SportDiscus, PEDro and Cochrane Library databases, for which keywords were used; delayed onset muscle soreness and vibration. 403 articles were identified in the different databases, 10 were selected that met the criteria for review. Besides before, 6 other items that were identified by the search engine Google Scholar were included, in all cases retrieved in full text. After analyzing the selected studies it was concluded that the topic is present and that the vibrations are effective both in the prevention and treatment of delayed onset muscle soreness.

Header photo by Michael Loehr
Photo of SKINS compression tights courtesy of SKINS


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Gefördert durch die Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien im Programm NEUSTART KULTUR, Hilfsprogramm DIS-TANZEN des Dachverband Tanz Deutschland.

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