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Preventing Dance Injuries

By Dr. Chris Hanson

“In dance, as in any athletic activity, injuries are prevalent.” (Journal of Sport Medicine, Sept 2013)

Attend to injuries quickly.

Many dancers view pain as simply being part of dance. This often encourages dancers to dance through the pain. Doing so can increase the severity of an injury and slow down recovery (Brain Inj., 2010). Studies also show that dancers have a higher pain tolerance than non-dancers, which makes ignoring an injury even more prevalent in our dancing community (Br J Sports Med, 1995).

Beware of over-dancing.

Many have described their love for dance as being similar to an addiction (Wainwright et al, 2005), and on a personal level, I can certainly relate. Be sure to take time to rest, hydrate, and recover throughout a night of dancing and between dance nights.

Be sure to cross-train.

Dancing all night can be exhausting, but does dancing encourage great fitness? When dance students were studied, it was found that an hour-long dance class resulted in only ten minutes of vigorous activity (J Strength Cond Res., 2004). Cross-training in activities that promote great cardiovascular health, strength, and flexibility will help keep you on the dance floor.

Keep your body balanced.

The Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found the following to be large contributors to dance injury: poor alignment, lack of warm-up, overuse/fatigue, anterior pelvic tilt, poor core strength, and pelvic muscle imbalance, to name a few.

Find a practitioner that knows the demands of dance.

A study showed that 80% of dancers reported that their health care provider did not understand dance and that 43% of providers gave unhelpful advice, with “stop dancing” being the common solution (Russell and Wang, 2012). A provider that understands the unique demands of dance will provide you with better care, improved rehab suggestions, and, therefore, improved outcomes.

Be well and keep moving.