Common dance injuries and how to prevent them

Dance, like many other sports, is physical and so there is the potential for injury. But don’t let that turn you off, because like with many other things, half the injuries incurred through dance can be prevented and should be prevented through careful safe dance practices implemented by the teacher. There are two main types of injuries. Acute- ones that happen then and there (like twisting your ankle) and chronic- ones that develop over time, and these are the one’s that teacher’s should be taking special care to avoid.

For a dancer the most common type of acute injury we see are sprains and tears of muscles, and this is quite often due to having a lack of warm-up, incorrect technique and sometimes even the environment and attire of the dancer. The best way to prevent these types of injuries (which are often in the ankle or wrist region) is to make sure you are completely warmed up before doing any stretching, tricks or jumps. The warm-up must increase your heart rate and blood flow, increase your body temperature, which as a result improves your range of motion in the joints and also increases oxygen flow to the muscles. I was always told that stretching is like chewing bubble gum. If you try to stretch gum when it has not been chewed, it will snap. But if you have warmed it up by chewing it in your mouth, then it becomes really stretchy. It is the exact same with your muscles- they NEED to be warmed up before you do any type of stretching. Another important factor to prevent injury is making sure that you are doing the movement correctly, and this sometimes comes down to the teacher and whether they are aware of how certain movement can increase the risk of injury. It is super important to make sure that the alignment and posture of the dancer is in the right position before doing any type of movement. It is also important not to push past your own individual limitations. So that means not forcing yourself into a split if you are not close to the ground. This is also how most acute injuries happen. Aside from this, clothing and environment can also have an impact on how likely someone is to have an injury.

Moving onto chronic injuries such as shin splints, stress fractures, hip and knee injuries, these are most often caused by repetitively doing the above. Chronic injuries are progressive and happen because the dancer constantly does not warm up the body or does not apply the correct technique or is constantly putting their bodies under stress. It is therefore part of the teachers responsibility to make sure that any technique issues are solved early on, an adequate warm up is put in place and if injury does occur they are dealt with straight away through using the RICER first aid method.