The popularity of dance continues to explode, fueled by reality shows such as So You Think You Can Dance? and Dancing with the Stars. As dancers, you understand the athletic demands and technical precision required for proper technique. Even more than that, you know the hours it takes to get there – and sustain that ability. This training often results in over usage and overdevelopment of certain muscle groups and weaknesses in others. When imbalances are left uncorrected, they become breeding grounds for injury, but the good news is this type of injury is entirely preventable.
Preventing Dance Injuries
Here are some tips for how to avoid injury while dancing:
Forget the mantra, “no pain, no gain”
The culture of dance is to perform through pain, dangerously fueled by the mantra “no pain, no gain”. This only fosters injury. For a long and healthy dance career, dancers must listen to their bodies and be smart about dancing.
Know the difference between pain and discomfort
Discomfort is a healthy output from muscle fatigue in the process of growing stronger, and typically goes away within a few days. Pain, however, is your body’s warning mechanism, and when it doesn’t go away after a few days or intensifies during activity, it’s time to listen to your body and rest.
Use timely self-care
Generally, the soft tissues and joints require one to two weeks to repair. Most often timely self-care can prevent further damage. Self-care methods include: rest from activities that cause pain, ice, elevation and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
Care for your feet
Make sure your shoes are properly fitted for your feet. At least once each day, strengthen your feet by taking each toe and stretching it backwards and forwards 5 times, with the big toe also stretched diagonally. Secondly, strengthen your arches. Place a towel on the floor, scrunch it up and spread it out five times only using your toes. Scoot the towel sideways, back and forth, several times.
Common Dance Injuries and Conditions
A bunion affects the joint of the big toe causing a painful bump to form on the inner side, and can eventually lead to deformity. Bunions can occur due to a variety of reasons including heredity, arthritis and injury. Symptomatic bunions are more prevalent in women - this may be due in part to wearing shoes that are too tight, compressing the toes together.Learn More
Fractures of the Foot and Ankle
Whether from overuse, weakening of the bones from osteoporosis or traumatic injury, the bones in the foot and ankle can be subject to breaking. These can be full breaks or simply small stress fractures, causing pain and difficulty with activity.Learn More