How To Prevent An Injury When Dancing?

How To Prevent An Injury When Dancing?

How To Prevent An Injury When Dancing?

While the art of dance may appear to be effortless, it requires a lot of flexibility, strength, and stamina. And, it is also accompanied by an elevated risk of injury. If you are a dancer, a dance teacher, or the parent of a dancer you should be educated regarding how to prevent an injury when dancing.

Common Dance Injuries

Studies indicate that overuse injuries are the most commonly experienced by dancers. Most of these injuries involve a foot, ankle, leg or lower back area.

Common dance injuries include the following.

Ankle Sprains

This is the most common serious injury for dancers and most will suffer their first sprain by the age of 13. These sprains are the result of any movement that pushes the ankle outside of its normal range of motion, resulting in an over-stretching or tears to the ankle ligaments.

Achilles Tendonitis

This condition is an inflammation of the tendon located at the back of the ankle that joins the main mover for pointing to your foot. As this tendon is in use when pointing the foot, this type of overuse injury is relatively common in dancers, especially those who use improper technique or train excessively.

Ankle Impingement

This is the pinching of the tissues located at either the front or back of the ankle.

Trigger Toe

Another overuse injury, this one causes swelling and damage to the active muscle used when pointing the big toe.

Snapping Hip

This condition often begins as an irritating snapping sound in the front of the hip. Over time, the tightness and weakness of this area can cause the snapping to become painful.

Hip Impingement

This is extremely common in dancers due to the unevenness between the amount of external rotation as compared to the amount of internal rotation.

Jumper’s Knee

This condition occurs when the kneecap tracks incorrectly due to muscle imbalances and weak quads. Placing repetitive forces on the patella - as with jumps or plies - without correct form places dancers at increased risk.

Why Dance Injuries Happen

Dance is physically demanding, as dancers perform recurring movements for several hours a day. Research has shown that dancing five or more hours a day results in an elevated risk of stress fractures and other conditions.

In addition to the intensive training routines, most dancers have little time to recover between sessions. Restrictive eating habits and unhealthy body weight can also result in dance injuries, so proper nutrition is important for dancers of any age.

How to Prevent an Injury When Dancing

Most overuse injuries - and even some traumatic - injuries can be prevented. Follow these guidelines to reduce your risk of injury:

  • Eat well and remain hydrated;
  • Get enough rest and don’t over train;
  • Perform cross-training exercises to build power and endurance in every part of your body;
  • Wear properly fitting shoes and attire;
  • Always do warmup exercises before dancing.

When injuries happen, take care of them right away and seek the advice of a doctor or physical therapist.

Exercises For Dancers

Hip and core strengthening exercises such as Pilates and yoga are very beneficial for dancers, as are running, biking or swimming. These activities pump up your heart rate boost stamina for longer performances.

Also, just 30 minutes of cardio for three to four times a week provides a great boost to a dancer’s endurance. This should, of course, be done in short and moderate intervals to avoid stressing the joints.

Treatment Of Dance Injuries

For sudden injuries, it’s best to apply ice initially to relieve swelling and inflammation. RICE healing is a common approach; it involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

After a couple of days, you can apply heat to increase blood flow and promote healing. Keep in mind that every person is different, and if you feel that ice is helping you better than heat, just continue with the ice. But don’t ice before stretching or dancing, to prevent injuries from reoccurring.

The type of treatment used depends on the injury, your rank as a dancer and many other factors. For example, when traumatic injuries - such as ankle sprains - occur, your doctor may recommend RICE, protecting the joints and some form of physical therapy. When stress fractures occur, you might need to reduce the amount of weight on your foot by wearing a leg brace or using crutches.

It is best to discuss your treatment options with a doctor whose specialties include dance injuries. If you work with physical therapists, make sure they have experience in treating dancing injuries. A main goal of the therapy is to correct the training method that resulted in injury. If you don’t, you risk injuring yourself again by making the same mistake.

Your First Aid Kit For Dancing Injuries

Your first aid kit probably already has many of the required essentials for treating a medical emergency. But when it comes to dance injuries, you may want to include a few additional items, such as:

  • An instant cold pack;
  • Athletic tape;
  • Elastic bandages for compression;
  • Topical pain reliever.

If you suffer from pain at night, at the start of your activity, or pain that increases with activity while dancing, you should check in with your physician or physical therapist.

The Bottom Line

Stay healthy and hydrated by eating a well-balanced diet, getting adequate rest, avoiding overtraining and partaking in proper cross-training, all while making sure you are wearing well-fitted shoes and listening to your body for signs of overuse.

If you suffer a dancing injury, address it sooner rather than later. The sooner you take care of it, the less severe the problems may be, and therefore, the less time you’ll have to spend away from dance!

And keep in mind that while Shakespeare claimed that clothes make the man, shoes make the dancer. It doesn't matter whether you compete professionally or are a beginner who dances for enjoyment, good dance shoes are an absolute necessity if you want to perform at your best and avoid injuries.

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