Limber Up, Cool Down
How do you get ready for the parade season? Do you have bad habits? You may be thinking, “I’ve been clowning for a decade; I don’t need to change my ways.”
But how HEALTHY are your “ways”? Hmm? Take care to be ready for the physical activity you are going to do BEFORE you do it! Plan to start some good habits before your spring and summer events begin.
7 Ways to Prepare for a Parade:
Water, water, water! Be fully hydrated before you hit the streets. Start taking in more water a few days before you perform in a parade or hot outdoor venue. Load up on good fresh foods as well like fruits and veggies. Always watch your caffeine intake as it will zap your strength and dehydrate you faster.
One of the best bits of advice my doctor gave me: Take your ibuprophin BEFORE you start to hurt. Once you are in pain, it is too late!
Make sure you have worked up to that level of activity if you are not in great shape. Take some extra walks, stick to your work-out regiment if you have one. Or seriously consider starting an exercise routine. Biking and walking are good gentle ways to get started. You need to build up your stamina.
Limber up! Stretching and warming up are very important. I know it may seem silly to be doing this as you stand in line waiting for the parade to kick off. But lack of warming up your muscles can be the cause of some SERIOUS injuries. Most of us are not doing back flips. But you can turn your ankle stepping off a curb, throw out your back bending down to visit with a person in a wheelchair, or get a neck spasm from turning around too fast or carrying an awkward parade prop. Here are some easy stretching exercises you can do at ANY age, and anywhere:
(click on the graphics for printer-friendly full-size diagrams)
Protect your feet! No matter what style of shoe you wear, put in a GOOD pair of innersoles to support your arches. This helps reduce back pain after a long day on your feet. They will help an old pair of shoes give much-needed support and shock absorption. If you wear your big, heavy, expensive leather clown shoes to walk those long miles, you might want to consider something that is easier on your feet and won’t matter if they get mud or rain damage. For parades, I opt for a pair of shoes that are normal-sized with excellent arch support, but have clowny polka dots and fun laces. I have noticed that all of the reputable clown shoe dealers are now making this kind of “street” shoe. Two pairs of thin socks might be better than one pair of thick socks. The two socks will take the friction that your skin would have, thereby preventing blisters. Believe it or not, I have gout! My chiropractor taught me how to tape my feet with athletic tape to provide more support. It makes all the difference in the world. Sometimes you will need to go to extra efforts to keep your feet happy.
After Glow! Now that the parade is over, take care of yourself. The worst thing you could do after a strenuous parade is get in your car and drive for half an hour. Your muscles will seize up and you’ll be achy for days. Remember all that stretching you did BEFORE the parade? It’s just as important to follow up afterwards, too. Do a few slow stretches and take the time needed to let your muscles cool down. With all that traffic, you aren’t going anywhere fast — why not plan on a little picnic with your clown friends? It is a great time to share your stories and discuss areas of improvement while they are still fresh in your mind.
Here are some other quick tips for the summer: Get a small cooler to keep in your car. Load it with bottled water (skip the sugary caffeinated drinks — they dehydrate you!). Keep some high energy snacks there as well. I like trail mix with nuts and raisins, because I don’t need to worry about messing up my make-up while eating and it gives me a natural boost. Put together a clown first-aid kit for your car. You can purchase small ones at drug stores. Don’t forget about applying sunscreen to the skin that isn’t covered by makeup. You might want to invest in cool packs for around your neck or knees – and you can keep these in your car cooler. Remember to pack multiple-sized band aides for those blisters from walking parades. Have animal allergies or hay fever? You night consider taking your allergy meds before entertaining at the county fair – just think about all those 4H animals and flower exhibits!
Never underestimate how important your individual needs are, and take the proper time to attend to them in advance. If you plan ahead of time, then you can concentrate on how well you are performing instead of how tired, hot, and sore you are feeling. Take the extra time now to plan for a terrific summer clown season. You will be glad you did!
Parades are a wonderful American tradition. What would a parade be without clowns? So strut your stuff and make ’em laugh!
12 awesome articles about parade clowning:
- 5 Secrets to having the best parade EVER!!
- 5 Ways to keep your clown make-up looking fresh
- You need to protect your feet, and your clown shoes!
- Planning ahead with your clown club
- A Kazoo Band is the perfect thing for a parade
- Walk-Around Prop Idea: iPod
- Walk-Around Prop Idea: Keep this ticket
- Walk-Around Prop Idea: Ring-a-ding-ding
- Walk-Around Prop Idea: Dozen freshly-picked noses
- Have kids join your clown club in the parade
- 4th of July Parade ideas for Clowns
- What to do if you have a clown emergency or accident
And just for the fun of it, we have 2 more stories about how parades are a magical and transforming experience:
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