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Common Dance Injuries - Causes, Types, Treatment, And Prevention

Published on Oct 11, 2022 and last reviewed on Mar 17, 2023   -  5 min read


Dance requires a great deal of endurance, and dance injuries affect the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. This article is about common dance injuries.


Dance is a bodily activity that has many physical and psychological benefits. Dancing is a healthy exercise to stay fit for all ages. There are many styles of dance, each having its own techniques. In all varieties, the body is able to translate the action and adapt to any kind of movement through regular practice. Moreover, dancing has a wide range of health benefits that improve general and mental well-being. Therefore, nowadays, dancing is considered a therapy to increase core strength and support emotional balance.

What Is Meant by Dance Injury?

Dancing is a form of art that needs continuous practice. Dancers require many hours of intense training, which can strain the body. They require a lot of strength, stamina, and flexibility. The countless hours of practice and training with repetitive movements will result in overuse injury to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints. The risk of dance injury is most significant during adolescents in a growth spurt. This is usually between the ages of 8 to 12 for girls and 10 to 14 for boys.

What Are the Causes of Dance Injury?

Dancing is a physically demanding activity, and there is always a risk of injury. Some of the risk factors for injury are,

  • Depends on the style of dance, training hours, and intensity of the performance.

  • Unusual conditions like slippery floors, improper shoes, type of properties and costumes used, and sometimes even the flickering light effect during the dance causing hallucination may induce fall.

  • Every individual dancer's body alignment and proportion may vary, and some have an increased tendency to acquire the injury.

  • Nutritional deficiency.

In addition, dancers are more conscious of their physique and may eat less to maintain it, leading to an imbalanced diet.

What Are Some Common Dance Injuries?

Foot and Ankle Injury:

Fast and repeated movements can apply constant pressure on the muscles and tendons in the foot and ankle. Ankle sprain and Achilles tendonitis are the most typical conditions associated with dance injury.

This type of injury may be caused by a sudden twist or pull that forces the ankle outside its range of motion. Thus, the ligaments of the ankle are overstretched, and tearing occurs.

  • Achilles Tendonitis:

The inflammation of the Achilles tendon (a strong, thin fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel of the foot) is called Achilles tendonitis or tendinitis. Dance steps involving pointed feet may develop overuse injury of the Achilles tendon.

  • Trigger Toe:

This condition is another overuse injury caused by the inflammation of the active muscle while pointing the big toe.

  • Ankle Impingement:

Impingement means the pinching of tissues. Ankle impingement may occur either in the front or back of the ankle.

Knee Injury:

  • Dislocation of the Kneecap:

The knee cap (patella) comes out of its alignment and fails to track in the groove of the femur (thigh bone). This condition is called patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Hip Injury:

  • Snapping Hip:

A snapping sensation or popping sound is heard when there is a movement in the hip joint. This occurs as the muscle or tendon of the hip moves over any bony projection. Initially, this condition may be painless, but over time the iliotibial band (a band of connective tissue at the sides of the hip that extends over the thigh) may get weakened and cause pain.

  • Hip Impingement:

The hip joint is formed between the ball end of the femur (thigh bone) and the socket of the hip bone. Hip impingement happens when the femur ball pinches against the socket of the hip bone. This leads to the damage of the cartilage in the hip joint, making it stiff and painful.

Spinal Injury:

  • In dancers, the lower back part of the spinal region often gets affected when the associated muscles are stretched or torn.

Shoulder Injury:

  • Shoulder Dislocation:

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket type of joint, and the shoulder dislocation happens when the top of the arm bone (humerus) becomes disconnected from the shoulder plate (scapula). This occurs when the arm is stretched in an awkward position.


  • Stress Fracture:

The fracture of the bone caused by repeated mechanical stress rather than sudden trauma is called a stress fracture. For example, the small bones of the hand and foot are more prone to a stress fracture while dancing.

Joint Inflammation:

  • Arthritis:

Dancers are more likely to develop joint inflammation (arthritis) in the knee, hip, ankle, and foot.

How to Treat Common Dance Injuries?

The goal of the treatment is to reduce pain and improve the range of motion. Conservatively the dance injuries can be managed at home by,

1. R.I.C.E -

  • Rest: Immediately stop dancing and avoid weight over the painful areas.

  • Ice: Ice packs and cold compress are placed over the injured area to alleviate pain and swelling.

  • Compression: Wrapping the area with a bandage may give certain relief.

  • Elevation: This is primarily for the injuries to the ankle and foot. By placing the area in an elevated position, fluid collection can be drained.

2. Heat: Alternative heat fomentation can be used to increase the blood supply and promote healing.

3. Supporting Devices: Crutches, bands, and braces are used to stabilize and prevent further damage to the area.

4. Medication: Over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are used to reduce pain and swelling.

5. Exercises: Stretches and strengthening exercises are recommended.

How to Prevent Common Dance Injuries?

  • Proper nutrition and hydration.

  • Muscle-strengthening exercises.

  • Proper shoes and costumes.

  • Healthy lifestyle.

  • Warm-up exercises to be performed before the dance practice.

  • Body placement rules for each style of dance must be followed.


Physical examination of the dancers for joint range of motion and anatomical anomalies should be analyzed. Young dancers should not be exposed to overload training. Dancers should be aware of all the common dance injuries. The pain experienced due to injury may prevent dancers from a graceful performance. In most cases, the symptoms resolve on their own in a day or two with proper rest and home care. However, it is advisable to consult a physician when something is beyond tolerable.

Last reviewed at:
17 Mar 2023  -  5 min read


Dr. Anuj Gupta

Dr. Anuj Gupta

Orthopedician And Traumatology


Comprehensive Medical Second Opinion.Submit your Case

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