Dance may look effortless, but it requires a lot of practice, strength, and flexibility. Dancer’s put hours and hours of practice into a performance and learning to master movements. All this practice can, unfortunately, cause injuries. However, there are some things you can do to prevent injury. In this blog, we’ve covered some common injuries and ways to prevent them.
Why do dance injuries happen?
Training and performing are difficult and can lead to overuse injuries. Dancers tend to push their bodies to the limit and as a result, the majority of injuries are from overuse and involve an ankle, leg, foot or lower back.
On top of intensive training, many dancers get little time to recover between sessions and have no rest period, even during so-called “off season.” Restrictive diets and unhealthy body weights may also contribute to dance injuries. Proper nutrition is always important for dancers of all ages.
How can dance injuries be prevented?
The most important thing you can do to prevent injury is to master the movements before you perform them. Practice the movements safely and only perform them once you have confidence in your ability to execute them properly. If you have pain with the same movement or activity repeatedly, talk to your dance instructor or see your doctor to find out what’s causing it.
Make sure you rest
Most of the time there is nothing you can do but rest your injury and let the muscle or joint recover. However, complete rest may not be possible for a high-level or professional dancer. If that’s the case, just modify the activity or the move so you can stay in shape and sharp during rehabilitation. You should also get enough sleep and eat properly to ensure you recover as fast as possible. Dancers who only get five hours of sleep a day are at increased risk of injury.
Intense activity can lead to micro-injuries, which peak 12 hours after a workout. After a high-intensity activity it would make sense to take the next day off. Dancers should work at their highest intensity a couple times per week and then take at least two days off, preferably in a row. Also, a three- to four-week period of rest after the season is ideal for recovery.
What are my treatment options for a dance injury?
It depends on the type of injury, your level as a dancer and many other factors. For example, for traumatic injuries like ankle sprains, your doctor may recommend ice, joint protection and physical therapy. For stress fractures you may need to limit weight on your foot by using crutches, wearing a leg brace or walking boots. Surgery is typically used as the last resort. It is best to discuss your treatment options with a doctor who specializes in dance injuries. And if you are working with a physical therapist, make sure he or she is experienced in treating dancers. A big part of physical therapy is correcting the training technique that led to injury. Otherwise, you risk hurting yourself again by making the same mistake. Often times, rest is the best remedy and you have to take it easy.