dancing injuries

Important things to know about dancing injuries

Whilst dancing may not be classified as a sport (with the exception of ice dancing which is an Olympic sport), it puts as many physical pressures on the body – if not more – than competitive sports. Therefore dancers need to treat their bodies as carefully as sports people do.

Problems for dancers are commonly caused by repetitiveness and overuse rather than acute injuries, with the feet, ankles and legs most prone to stress fractures, sprains, strains and tendon damage. Children generally take up dancing at an early age – 5 or 6 – and the repetitive moves they need to practise in order to gain strength, flexibility and endurance make them vulnerable to injuries caused by overuse. And as dancers get older, they become more and more vulnerable to those injuries.

Factors that can exacerbate overuse injury

  • Posture – if you don’t have good posture, you’ll be putting even greater pressure on your body, increasing the risk of injury
  • Doing too much too quickly – if you try to do moves that your muscles haven’t been trained to do, you’re much more likely to injure yourself
  • Lack of experience – beginners are more likely to injure themselves because their bodies aren’t used to the physical demands being made on them
  • Overtraining – if you enjoy dancing, or are training for a competition for example, the temptation is to just keep going; doing too much will leave you prone to injuries such as shin splints and stress fractures
  • Not resting a previous injury properly – if you have are recovering from an injury, the temptation is to go back to dancing before you’ve given it a chance to properly heal, causing more problems

Preventing injury

There are a number of steps you can take to help prevent dancing injuries:

  • Warm up and cool down properly before every session
  • Good posture
  • Regular massages
  • If you’re injured or in pain, stop dancing long enough to allow your body to heal properly
  • Slowly build up new moves and techniques to give your body a chance to adjust
  • Wear properly fitting shoes
  • Drink plenty of fluids

Sports massage

Massage has gained popularity with dancers as a way of preventing injuries or, if they do happen, to aid in their recovery. Massage increases circulation which helps oxygen reach the muscles, and also helps the body get rid of toxins and lactic acid which build up and hinder movement. It also helps to reduce tension in the tissue and stretches the muscles, allowing for greater flexibility and movement.

It’s no wonder so many dancers are turning to sports massage therapists for help.