In summer 2016, certified athletic trainers and sports medicine trained physicians from TRIA and HealthPartners started working with Circus Juventas. This youth circus is the largest in North America.

Each week, Circus Juventas performing artists spend long hours training. They push the limits of human movement. Our experts provide seven tips on how to train effectively with a grueling schedule.

Hydration

As we move, we build heat in our bodies. The body releases and regulates heat by sweating. This maintains our temperature and the function of our vital organs. However, it also makes us lose water and electrolytes. Our performance can suffer when we lose one percent or more of our body weight through sweat. That’s why you need to stay hydrated during all stages of activity.

  • Pre-activity: Throughout the day, carry a 16 to 20 oz. water bottle. Refill it two to three times. Two to three hours before a rehearsal or show, consume 17 to 20 oz. of water or sports beverage. 10 to 20 minutes before the rehearsal or show, drink seven to 10 oz. of water.
  • During activity: Drink seven to 10 oz. of fluid every 10 to 20 minutes during a practice or show. This will help limit fluid loss to sweat. Consider alternating water with a sports drink. This will assist in balancing your electrolytes. These are essential in muscle activity and maintaining a high level of performance.
  • Post-activity: Replacing fluid should be a priority within two hours after training or a show. Electrolytes and carbohydrates are also lost so consider mixing a sports drink with water. Ideally, drink 16 to 24 oz. for every pound of body weight lost to sweat.
Image: Circus Juventas three artists performing on platform

Nutrition

It’s important to put energy and fuel back in after you have expended it. This is crucial in rebuilding muscle and keeping your body performing at its peak. Eat a meal that emphasizes lean protein and complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and veggies. Try to avoid fried, greasy foods and sugary drinks. These lack quality nutrients and may slow your recovery process. Meals should be accompanied by fluids to assist in rehydration. Take time at the beginning of the week to make sure you have the snacks and meals you will need readily available.

Here are some simple and healthy ideas:

During Rehearsal

  • ½ Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • String Cheese and Crackers
  • Pretzels
  • Trail Mix
  • Yogurt with ½ Cup Granola
  • Fruit
  • Baked Chips
  • Low fat chocolate milk
  • Applesauce

After Rehearsal

  • Low fat chocolate milk
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Sports bar
  • Oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts
  • Banana with peanut butter
  • 2-3 Cooked eggs and a slice of toast
  • Turkey sandwich on whole wheat
  • Trail Mix
  • Salad with protein

Sleep

Lack of sleep is linked to low energy, increased stress, poor food choices and slowed recovery. Your goal should be a consistent seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Light from your phone, TV and laptop can disrupt the natural sleep cycle. Power down one hour before you hit the pillow and switch non-essential alerts to off.

Ice

Using ice to help soothe tired and sore muscles can go a long way. Consider a five- to seven-minute ice cup massage on areas no bigger than the palm of your hand. Use a 15- to 20-minute ice bag application on larger areas. You can ice multiple times per day. But always wait until the tissue has returned to normal temperature before applying another treatment.

Heat

Gently stretch after rehearsals and performances while your muscles are still warm. This will help maintain flexibility and minimize soreness. Make time for your cool down. Your body will thank you.

Active recovery

Light activity can help muscle recovery by minimizing lactic acid build up. That’s the stuff that makes you sore. Light activity also aids in blood flow, which is what delivers the key nutrients that help in recovery. Consider activities like yoga, Pilates, walking or a bike ride. This will challenge new muscles, increase blood flow and give you a mental break.

Mental recovery

Take time each day to relax your mind and wind down after a rehearsal or show. This is important to maintain focus, minimize stress and avoid burnout. Spend time with friends or family. Read, meditate, or watch a movie. You want an activity that allows your mind to focus on other things. Find activities that are positive and healthy to help recharge your mind and motivation. This will keep you safe and achieving optimal performance.

Image: Circus Juventas trainer instructing kids

To learn more, make an appointment with one of our sports medicine and orthopaedic providers:

Photos by Bill Raab and Dan Norman.