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

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

Written by

Dr. Deepiha. D

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Anuj Gupta

Published At October 11, 2022
Reviewed AtApril 13, 2024

Introduction:

Dance is a bodily activity that has many physical and psychological benefits. Dancing is a healthy exercise to stay fit and is suitable 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 in adolescents during the 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 involves a lot of physical activity, and there is always a risk of injury. Some of the risk factors for injury depend on:

  • The style of dance.

  • Training hours.

  • The intensity of the performance.

Unusual conditions like slippery floors, improper shoes, type of properties and costumes used, and sometimes even the flickering light effect used during dancing can cause hallucinations and may induce falls. Every individual dancer's body alignment and proportion may vary, and some may have an increased tendency to acquire the injury.

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

What Are the Signs of Injury in Dancers?

Dancers might be suffering from an injury if they experience the following types of pain:

  • Pain that keeps one awake at night.

  • Pain that aggravates while doing an activity.

  • Pain that presents at the start of an activity.

  • Pain that makes one compensate for their movements or shift the weight.

What Are Some Common Dance Injuries?

Some common dance injuries are as follows:

  • 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 (a condition in which there is an extreme or repetitive strain on the Achilles tendon) are the most typical conditions associated with dance injury.

  • Ankle Sprain: 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. It is the leading cause of traumatic injury in dancers. Traumatic injuries differ from overuse injuries in that they happen unexpectedly. The common reasons for ankle sprains include misaligned ankles, inappropriate landing from a jump, or ill-fitting shoes.

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

  • Hip Injury:

  • Snapping Hip Syndrome: 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 can 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 damage to 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: The shoulder joint is a ball and socket type of joint, and 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.

  • 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 stress fractures while dancing.

  • Joint Inflammation: 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 dance injuries can be managed at home by,

1. R.I.C.E - This means

Rest: Avoid dancing following injury and avoid applying weight over painful areas.

Ice: Ice packs and cold compresses should be 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 injuries in 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.

Stress fractures can be managed by minimizing putting weight on the foot by using walking boots, leg braces, or crutches. Surgery is the last option. One must discuss this with a physician who is an expert in treating dance injuries or a physical therapist who can help the individual with recovery. The aim of physical therapy is to correct the training technique that triggered the injury. If not, one can risk themselves again by following the same mistake. Doctors recommend purchasing a fracture boot to help support the injured area.

How to Prevent Common Dance Injuries?

Dance injuries can be prevented in the following ways:

  • Proper nutrition and hydration.

  • Practicing muscle-strengthening exercises.

  • Wearing proper shoes and costumes.

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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

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

What Exercises Are Ideal for Dancers?

The ideal exercises for dancers include:

  • Core and hip strengthening exercises such as Pilates.

  • Stability-based yoga.

  • Aerobic exercises.

  • Cardiovascular activities like running, swimming, or hiking.

  • Endurance can be improved by doing cardio for just 30 minutes or at least three to four times a week. However, this should be done in short intervals and in moderation to avoid exerting stress on the joints.

For How Long Should a Dancer Take Rest?

There are no specific protocols on the frequency and amount of rest. Dancing for five hours a day or more can increase the risk of acquiring an injury. Extreme activity could also result in microdamage. So, a dancer can take a rest the next day following an intense activity. It is advisable to take rest for two days consecutively if one dances at high intensity twice a week. Three to four weeks of rest after a dancing season is best for recovery.

What Contents Should Be There in a First Aid Kit to Treat Dance Injuries?

The first aid kit must contain the following:

  • Instant cold pack.

  • Crutches.

  • Topical pain reliever.

  • Pre-wrap and athletic tape.

  • Elastic bandages should be used only for compression and not while dancing.

Conclusion:

Dance is a great way to stay fit and offers many psychological benefits. Overuse injuries due to excessive use of joints and muscles are very common in dancers. Physical examination of the dancers for joint range of motion and anatomical anomalies should be analyzed. Young dancers should not be overloaded with training. Dancers should be aware of all the common dance injuries. The pain experienced due to injury may prevent dancers from doing 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.

Dr. Anuj Gupta
Dr. Anuj Gupta

Spine Surgery

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