Dance Advice | Dance FAQ’s | Dance Injuries

Dance Advice | Dance FAQ’s | Dance Injuries

Dance Injuries

All dancers will get an injury at one time or other. It may be mild or it may be severe but it’s a natural part of a dancer’s life. With that said, ideally, this can be kept to a minimum with some thought, looking after yourself and your body and good preparation. It goes without saying that dance is a physical activity and it is physically demanding with hours of repetition. If you dance for five hours a day, no matter who you are, it will have an impact on your body and you will feel fatigued at times and over time your risk of stress fractures or other injuries will increase. The good news is that there are so many things that you can do to prevent this and to keep the risk to a minimum. I don’t actually believe that a dancer in training particularly needs to do much else as regards to exercise, like going to the gym, for example, although building core strength isn’t a bad thing. Many hours of dance training and practice per day will certainly keep you strong, flexible your stamina levels high. However, keeping your body strong and fit will help you become less susceptible to injury, as will keeping yourself healthy. With that said, one of the main dance injuries is a sprained ankle which is obviously due to impact. Another word for that impact is trauma and trauma injuries are not unusual in dancers. It’s important to remember that if you tear a ligament, for example, that you build strength because they don’t heal to their pre-injury strength and the risk of recurrence increases, so one must also be more vigilant. However, that vigilance can sometimes make a dancer even more injury prone due to lack of focus. This is why strong technique and preparation are key. This includes an appropriate warm-up and an appropriate cool down. Give yourself ample time for this because it is an investment in your body and will give you longevity. Other tips include:

Make sure that you are hydrated during class.
Make sure that you have eaten and are nourished.
Make sure that you get enough sleep before class and are appropriately rested.
Build up your core strength with cross training or in the gym if need be.
Make sure you dress appropriately and especially wear the correct properly fitting shoes.
Act appropriately and healthily.
If you injured seek professional medical advice immediately.

With regards to rest, the truth is that it is up to your body how much rest you need. Make sure you listen to your body and watch your mood because it will indicate to you when you are rested or not. I also suggest running a few times a week to keep your cardio levels up. I personally increase my runs when leading up to and preparing for a performance to make sure that I can run at a fast pace, at the very least, for the equivalent amount of time I will be performing on stage. Now, it’s important to know the difference between discomfort and pain. You will experience discomfort when engaging in the activity of dance but if you feel a pain that keeps you awake or that pain exists before you start dancing and persists or worsens then you should immediately seek medical attention from a doctor or physiotherapist.

The International Association for Dance Medicine & Science advice

The International Association for Dance Medicine & Science have a great resource page, written by Nadia Sefcovic and Brenda Critchfield under the auspices of the Education Committee of The International Association for Dance Medicine which explains the “Price” acronym which is important for you to learn because, as they state; “using PRICED as a first aid method immediately after an injury helps limit the inflammation and the pain and can also guide continuing care and rehabilitation”:

PROTECTION: Remove additional danger or risk from the injured area
REST: Stop dancing and stop moving the injured area
ICE: Apply ice to the injured area for 20 minutes every two hours
COMPRESSION: Apply an elastic compression bandage to the injured area
ELEVATION: Raise the injured area above the heart
DIAGNOSIS: Acute injuries should be evaluated by a health-care professional

The International Association for Dance Medicine & Science also use the “Harm” acronym which they point out should be avoided in the days soon after an injury:

HEAT: Any kind of heat will speed up the circulation, resulting in more swelling and a longer recovery
ALCOHOL: Alcohol can increase swelling, causing a longer recovery
RUNNING OR OTHER EXCESSIVE EXERCISE: Exercising too early can cause further damage to the injured part. Exercise also increases blood flow, resulting in more swelling MASSAGE: Massage increases swelling and bleeding into the tissue, prolonging recovery time

I strongly suggest you familiarise yourself with their website and always remember to consult your doctor if in any doubt whatsoever.