Whether you perform in front of an audience or you do it for the enjoyment, one thing’s for sure: dance is enjoyable. And many dancers will tell you that the thrill of dancing doesn’t go away. But like any other form of physical activity, there’s a great likelihood of getting injured, especially if you don’t know the common dance injuries and how to prevent them.

Although dance looks effortless, it involves repetitive movements that require strength, stamina, and flexibility. And it’s these repetitive dance moves that make dancers prone to overuse injuries.

So don’t let an injury stop your groove, familiarize yourself with the common dance injuries, and take the necessary steps to prevent them.

Common Dance Injuries You Should Know

Studies show that 95 percent of dancers sustain injuries during their career. But this doesn’t mean you should stop dancing. The good news is, understanding the common dance injuries enables you to take the necessary precautions. So let’s find out the common dance injuries you should expect.

Achilles Tendonitis

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Achilles tendonitis is an injury characterized by the inflammation of the tendon at the back of the ankle, which connects the prime mover for pointing to the foot.

This injury is common among ballet dancers because foot pointing and the relevé engage the Achilles a lot. It mostly occurs when the dancer uses the wrong technique or engages in extreme training.

When you have an Achilles tendonitis injury, you’ll feel pain and tenderness just above your heel. The pain may subside when you apply hot therapy, but gets worse when you jump or during a relevé.

To prevent this injury, stretch your Achilles with your foot in parallel regularly. In addition to this, do hip, core, and quadriceps strengthening workouts to minimize the force absorption in your ankles.

Ankle Sprains

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Ankle sprains are also quite common among dancers. Most dancers experience this acute injury by age 13. Ankle sprains are caused by movements that exert too much pressure on the ankle, making it move outside its normal range.

When this happens, the ligaments surrounding the ankle tear or overstretch, thereby resulting in the pain you feel. The pain is mostly inside or outside the ankle and may be accompanied by some swelling and bruising in more severe cases.

You can prevent ankle sprains by doing hip strengthening and four-way ankle exercises.

Snapping Hip Syndrome

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Snapping hip syndrome doesn’t hurt in the early stages. You’ll only experience an annoying sound every time you do a developpé. However, as you continue dancing, there’s a high chance you’ll suffer from the iliotibial band (IT band) tightness and weakness on the outer side of the hips, which makes the snapping more painful.

The pain from this injury is mainly around your hip, and you’ll feel it more when you dance moves like the developpé.

So how do you prevent it? You can avoid snapping syndrome by doing exercises that strengthen your glutes and using a foam roller on your IT band, hip flexors, IT band, and quadriceps.

Trigger Toe

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Another common overuse injury is the trigger toe. This injury happens when the active muscles during pointing of the toe are damaged or inflamed. You’ll mostly feel the pain along the inside of your ankle and under your foot when you try to point your big toe. Sometimes you may feel as if the toe is stuck.

The best way to prevent this injury is to master proper form when doing your relevés. Don’t crunch your toes of force a pointe. Take your time until the movements are natural.

It may also help to roll out the arch of your foot with a ball — but make sure you’re not doing it to the point of pain because this may cause further injury.

Ankle impingement

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Ankle impingement refers to the pinching of the tissues in your ankles, such as the tibia and talus. It can happen at the front or back of the ankle.

When the injury is in the anterior region, you’ll feel pain in the front of the ankle when doing a plie or landing. On the hand, if you have a posterior injury, you’ll feel the pain at the back of the ankle with relevé and tendu.

You can prevent this injury by stretching your Achilles and your pointe (but don’t force it).

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

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Patellofemoral pain syndrome is popularly known as “jumper’s knee.” This injury happens due to incorrect kneecap tracking due to muscle imbalances such as tight calves and hamstrings as well as weak quads.

Jumper’s knee is most common among dancers who do plies and a lot of jumping moves. However, dancers who use the wrong form are at a higher risk of this injury.

When you experience this injury, you’ll feel the pain at the front of the knee, especially when you plie or jump.

Core and hip strengthening workouts are great for preventing patellofemoral pain syndrome. You’ll also benefit a lot from foam rolling your glutes, hip flexors, IT band, and quadriceps.

Hip Impingement

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Hip impingement is also among the common dance injuries you should know. This injury occurs due to several factors such as arthritis, snapping hip syndrome, muscle strain, fracture, and labral tear, among others.

It’s common among dancers because of the imbalance between the extent of their external rotation compared to their internal rotation.

When you have hip impingement, you’ll feel pain around your hip, especially with passé and internal rotation.

The best way to prevent hip impingement is to perform glute strengthening workouts, and foam rolling your IT band, glutes, hip flexors, and quadriceps.

How to Prevent Dance Injuries

You’ve probably noticed that ballet dancers are more prone to the common dance injuries. But does this mean dancers who engage in different dance styles are safe from them? Not at all.

As long as you’re dancing, you’re exerting pressure on different parts of your body, which increases your likelihood of getting injured. So let’s find out the different ways you can prevent dance injuries regardless of the dance style you engage in.

It boils down to the basics

One of the most important measures you can take to prevent dance injuries is to master the basic movements. According to experts, one of the common causes of overuse injuries is subtle incorrect posture in training compounded over time.

Therefore, if you’re constantly feeling pain in the same area when you make a specific dance move, you should consider evaluating your form. It’s also advisable to seek medical attention to address the problem before it gets worse.

Sometimes it’s easier than you think

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Sometimes you don’t need any drastic measures to prevent the common dance injuries. The solution may be as simple as resting.

And since this solution may not be realistic if you’re a professional dancer who relies on the job for your income, it may be best to modify your routine to incorporate activities that help you stay in shape but focus on rehabilitation. That way, you’ll avoid overexerting your muscles and still keep doing what you love.

Take Your Time

When you’re starting, the excitement of learning new moves may make you try too much too soon. But doing this will only make you prone to common dance injuries.

To avoid this, make sure you master the basic movements before trying advanced styles.

Core Strength is Key

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Core strength is essential for dance injury prevention. A strong core allows you to activate your abdominal and back muscles, and protect your lower back, hips, and knees.

For this reason, you need to engage in core strengthening exercises to have more control and stamina.

The type of dance matters

It’s also essential to find a dance style that works for you. Some dance styles are kinder to the body compared to others, and you’ll find that some dance movements come naturally to you compared to the rest.

Therefore, you should make sure you try a few dance styles before settling for one to identify the best one for you.

Dance Injury Treatment Options

You’ve probably noticed that ballet dancers are more prone to the common dance injuries. But does this mean dancers who engage in different dance styles are safe from them? Not at all.

As long as you’re dancing, you’re exerting pressure on different parts of your body, which increases your likelihood of getting injured. So let’s find out the different ways you can prevent dance injuries regardless of the dance style you engage in.

Heat vs. cold therapy

Heat and cold therapy are excellent treatment options for sudden injuries. It’s advisable to use ice first because it helps in reducing inflammation and swelling. Some people find the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method quite useful as well.

After a few days of cold therapy, you can switch to heat therapy, which is excellent for improving blood circulation to the area and promoting healing. However, everyone is different. Some people find ice works better than heat, and others prefer heat to ice.

Choose the method that works best for you. But never use ice before going on the dance floor because your muscles need to be warmed up to prevent further injury.

Physical therapy

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For more severe injuries, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. The idea behind this treatment is to correct the training technique that resulted in the injury to prevent it in the future.

However, for the best results, you need to ensure that the physical therapist you’re working with has experience with dancers.

Stretching

Stretching exercises may also help in the recovery process. They not only help in elongating your muscles but also make it easier for you to perform different movements. It’s best to do some stretching workouts before and after dancing.

However, for recovery purposes, you need to work with a trained physical therapist so that they can teach you which movements to do for the best results.

Improving core strength

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Contrary to popular belief, core strength exercises aren’t just for getting rock-hard abs (although we all want them). These exercises are also excellent for improving your stamina and preventing injuries.

What’s more, physical therapists recommend them for rehabilitative programs to avoid future similar injuries.

A handy first aid kit

For sudden injuries, you may need a first aid kit to deal with the pain before seeing a doctor.

Some of the things you should include in your package include topical pain relievers, elastic bandages, instant cold packathletic tape (you may need a trained professional to apply this), and crutches (they may not fit in your kit but having them may come in handy).

Your Move

Dancing is exhilarating, and there’s a high chance you won’t want to trade the excitement for days of rest at home due to an injury. So take the necessary steps to prevent common dance injuries and keep enjoying yourself.

Do you use some of these methods to prevent dance injuries? Do they work for you? Please share your experience with us. We’d love to hear from you.

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