While it may look simple and elegant, dancing is a physically demanding, high-impact sport. It requires strength, flexibility and endurance. Dancers spend countless hours repeating the same movements over and over to achieve that graceful perfection that makes them so fascinating to watch.
Unfortunately, the physical demands of dancing make dancers very susceptible to injury. Dancers often suffer from stress fractures to sprains as they try to improve their craft. Not only are these injuries painful, but they can render a dancer unable to perform for extended periods of time. Keep reading to learn the 7 most common dance injuries and what you can do to avoid them.
1. Ankle sprains
Ankle sprain is the most common acute injury suffered by dancers. They happen when something forces the ankle out of its normal range of motion, tearing or overstretching the ligaments around the ankle. This can happen when ankle fatigue occurs, a dancer loses balance, or during a dance error. Pain from a sprained ankle is immediate, and in severe cases, the ankle can become swollen or injured.
How can dancers prevent sprains?
If you've sprained your ankle in the past, you're more likely to sprain it again in the future, so be aware of the possibility of re-injury. To prevent sprains, work on strengthening the muscles used to stabilize the ankle. Four-way ankle exercises can help strengthen these muscles, and focusing on strengthening your hips can help you relieve stress on your ankles while dancing.
2. Achilles Tendinitis
The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and dancers rely heavily on it. Achilles tendonitis is an overuse injury that causes the Achilles tendon to become inflamed. This condition comes on gradually, with pain and swelling at the back of your heel when you try to dance. You may feel better after warming up, but the pain will get worse if you dance. It can develop into tight calf muscles and a limited range of motion.
How Can Dancers Prevent Achilles Tendonitis?
This is an overuse injury, so if you start to experience Achilles tendon pain or stiffness, one of the best precautions is to gradually exercise at higher levels and reduce your schedule. You should also stretch the Achilles tendon parallel to the foot and strengthen the muscles that support the feet and ankles so that certain movements don't put as much stress on the Achilles tendon.
3. "Trigger finger" (tenosynovitis of flexor hallucis longus)
Trigger finger is another common injury among dancers. Due to the stress placed on the big toe during some dance styles, the tendon that controls it (the flexor hallucis longus) can become inflamed and injured, making it difficult or impossible to flex the toe. Trigger toe pain comes on gradually and makes running very painful. Your toe may be difficult or impossible to flex and feel like it's stuck.
How can dancers avoid trigger finger?
Trigger finger can be avoided by taking care to practice good foot posture and not grinding your toes to stress pointy feet. You can also stretch the flexor hallucis longus tendon by rolling the arch of your foot into a ball.
4. Ankle impact
Ankle impingement is another overuse injury that dancers often suffer from. It consists of pinching the tissue on the front or back of the ankle. Anterior impingement feels like pinching in front of the ankle when at the bottom of a plié. Posterior impingement feels like a pinch on the back of the ankle when the toes are pointed. Both types cause pain that comes on gradually, decreased range of motion, and ankle tenderness to touch.
How can dancers prevent ankle impingement?
Ankle impingement is most likely to occur after an ankle sprain. So work with a physical therapist to restore your ankle stability if you've sprained it. You should also practice proper technique and make sure you stretch your Achilles tendon.
5. Hip fitting
Snapped hip syndrome actually causes an audible pop when you do footwork. The snap comes from a tendon that quickly crosses the hip joint during movement. It can appear on the back, front or side of the hip. The crisis does not hurt at first, but it becomes painful over time.
How can dancers avoid hip tears?
A popping hip is usually caused by tension in the muscles and tendons that surround the hip. To avoid this, you can use a foam roller to stretch your hip flexors, quadriceps, IT band, and glutes. You can also strengthen your glutes and core to support these muscles and hamstrings.
6. Hip impingement
Hip impingement occurs when something prevents the ball hip joint from moving smoothly, painlessly and freely. This could be anything from arthritis, labral tear, stress fracture, muscle strain, hip syndrome, sacroiliac joint dysfunction or piriformis syndrome. It may start out as just a dull ache, but it will get worse over time. This condition usually causes tightness in the thigh, hip or groin and the inability to flex the hip beyond a certain point. You may also experience groin pain after bending your hip. Pain in the hip, groin, or lower back can occur at rest or while dancing.
How can dancers prevent hip impingement?
Use a foam roller to stretch your hip flexors, quadriceps, IT band and glutes. You can also strengthen your glutes and core to support your hips.
7. "Jumper's knee" (patellofemoral pain syndrome)
Jumper's knee is a stretch of the patellar tendon, which runs from the bottom of the kneecap to the top of the tibia. This condition causes pain in the front of the knee when landing from a jump, using stairs, or sitting with the knee bent for long periods of time. It is an overuse injury that occurs gradually and gets worse over time. It is usually caused by muscle imbalances such as tight hamstrings and calves along with weak quadriceps that put too much stress on the patellar tendon.
How can dancers prevent jumper's knee?
To avoid bouncing your knees, focus on strengthening your core and hips to support your knees. Use a foam roller to stretch your hip flexors, quadriceps, IT band and glutes.
General tips for preventing dance injuries
As with any sport, listening to your body and getting enough rest is important when you dance. Overtraining always backfires in the form of fatigue and injury, so don't push yourself beyond reasonable limits. Pain is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong, so you should never try to push past pain that feels excessive or unusual. This will only lead to more injuries, which will mean more downtime in the end. Always consult your physician if you have any concerns. In particular, call your doctor right away if you notice any of the following:
- pain at night
- Pain at the start of training
- Pain that gets worse with activity
- Pain that causes you to change the way you dance, walk, sit, stand, or move in general
If you are suffering from the pains mentioned above, don't wait to see a doctor. If possible, try to find a doctor with experience treating dancers. They can assess your pain, decide if additional tests or x-rays are needed, and create a treatment plan to get you back on the dance floor safely.
An ounce of prevention is worth years of merry dancing
Injury prevention is the key to a long, enjoyable and healthy dance career. Above all, be sure to practice proper form, listen to your body, and avoid overtraining. All dancers suffer injuries at some point, but working to minimize those injuries will ensure that you can keep dancing year after year.
If you have more questions or would like to sign up for a dance class, please contact our friendly staff at 317-783-5260 orstay onlineHello!
What are the 5 most common dance injuries? ›
As you'd expect, the majority of dance-related problems affect the feet and ankles, but dancers can also sustain lower back, hip and knee injuries. Repetitive practice of movements and routines may cause participants to get sprains, strains, stress fractures and tendon injuries.What are the 5 main causes of dance injuries? ›
- Type of dance and frequency of classes, rehearsals, and performances.
- Duration of training.
- Environmental conditions such as hard floors and cold studios.
- Equipment used, especially shoes.
- Individual dancer's body alignment.
- Prior history of injury.
Ankle sprains are the most common traumatic (or acute) injury in dancers. Most dancers will experience their first sprain by age 13. This injury is caused by any movement that forces the ankle outside of the normal range of motion, resulting in an overstretching or in tears to the ligaments of the ankle.
Some common dance injuries are: Hip injuries: snapping hip syndrome, hip impingement, labral tears, hip flexor tendonitis, hip bursitis and sacroiliac joint dysfunction. Foot and ankle injuries: Achilles tendonitis, trigger toe and ankle impingement. Knee injuries: patellofemoral pain syndrome.What dance form is a high risk for injury? ›
Hip-hop dancers report injury rates higher than other dance forms, but similar to gymnastics. Break dancing must be considered a potentially high-risk dancing sport.What are the 6 causes of sports injuries? ›
- Not using the correct exercise techniques.
- Overtraining, either by training too often, too frequently, or for too long.
- Changing the intensity of physical activity too quickly.
- Playing the same sport year-round.
- Running or jumping on hard surfaces.
- Wearing shoes that do not have enough support.
- Resistance exercises for increased strength in the shoulders, stomach and lower back.
- Regular stretching, Pilates or yoga exercises to boost flexibility.
- Consulting with an athletic trainer or sports medicine specialist regarding personal strategies for injury prevention.
Overuse injuries like stress fractures and tendonitis are common among ballet dancers, who perfect their skills by practicing them over and over. Dancers are also at risk for acute injuries like sprains and torn cartilage. Common ballet injuries can affect any part of the body, commonly the back and lower extremities.Why does my hip hurt as a dancer? ›
There are many causes that may contribute to hip pain and injury in dancers, including osteoarthritis (OA), hip dysplasia, a hypermobile hip, labral pathology, and femoral acetabular impingement (FAI).How many injuries do dancers get? ›
One study that focused on full-time, pre-professional dancers found that 86% of the athletes sustained one or more injuries within one academic year. Not only is this one of the highest rates of injury in athletics, but it's also one of the most consistently high rates.
What is a dancer's knee? ›
Anterior (front) knee pain is the most common knee injury in dancers. It is a repetitive stress in-jury (RSI) that afflicts up to 33% of dancers. Because it is often difficult to manage, it is the subject of considerable research—which is showing that the problem may not be in your knee, but in the rest of your body.What are the two most common injuries to the hip? ›
- Labral tear.
- Iliopsoas impingement and snapping hip.
- Femoroacetabular impingement.
- Traumatic subluxation and dislocation.
- Stress fracture.
- Muscle strain.
- Osteitis pubis.
There are seven principles in modern and contemporary dance that could improve the execution of basic dance steps. These are centering, alignment, gravity, use of breath, contraction, and release, fall and recovery, balance and off-balance, tension and relaxation, opposition, succession, spiral, swing, and momentum.How do you stop your legs from hurting after dancing? ›
- Foam Rolling. Foam roll before or after dance to help reduce soreness. ...
- Foot and Body Massage Rollers. Massage is a terrific way to warm up your muscles before class or to relieve soreness afterwards. ...
- Vibrating Massagers. ...
- Massage Balms and Cremes.
- Travelling. This is moving from Point A to Point B - or moving from one spot, travelling around the room and coming back to the same spot. ...
- Turning. ...
- Jumping and Leaping. ...
- Balance and Stillness. ...
- Levels. ...
Ankle sprains: Ankle sprains are the most common acute injury to affect dancers. Sprains are caused by a movement that forces the ankle outside its normal range of motion, leading to tears in the ankle ligaments or overstretching.What causes dance injury? ›
Overtraining – dancing for too long or too often can lead to a wide range of overuse injuries. Shin splints and stress fractures in the feet are common dance-related overuse injuries.Is dance a sport yes or no? ›
Is dancing a sport? Sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill, with an individual or team competing against others for entertainment. In all senses of this definition, yes – dance can be considered a sport.What are the 5 basic dance actions? ›
The 5 actions of dance - jump, turn, travel, gesture and stillness.What are the 20 safety rules? ›
- Follow the dress code. ...
- Wear safety gear. ...
- Maintain personal hygiene. ...
- Take responsibility for your personal safety. ...
- Maintain a clean workspace. ...
- Follow work procedures. ...
- Learn how to act in an emergency. ...
- Report accidents if they occur.
How many hours of dance is too much? ›
Dance is a physically demanding activity. Dancers perform repetitive movements for several hours a day. Studies have shown that dancing five hours a day or longer leads to an increased risk of stress fractures and other injuries.How much rest should a dancer get? ›
How Often Should we Rest? Here's the fast answer: Studies suggest the body needs between 30-60 minutes of rest after hitting the dance floor with maximum muscle effort.Are dancers more prone to injuries than athletes? ›
Dance injuries rates are significantly statistically higher than that of other sports. A study by Wolverhampton University found professional dancers were more likely to suffer injuries than rugby players. Statistics show that 80 percent of dancers incur at least one injury a year that affects their ability to perform.What are the 7 common injuries? ›
- Strains. Strains are by far the most common of all sports-related injuries simply because we use so many muscles and tendons when we exercise or play. ...
- Sprains. ...
- Knee injuries. ...
- Fractures. ...
- Tennis elbow. ...
- Plantar fasciitis/shin splints. ...
- Back injuries/back pain. ...
- Sprains and strains.
- Knee injuries.
- Swollen muscles.
- Achilles tendon injuries.
- Pain along the shin bone.
- Rotator cuff injuries.
- Fractures (broken bones)
- Runner's Knee. Knee injuries are one of the most common sporting injuries treated by orthopedic surgeons. ...
- Shoulder Injury. Shoulder injuries are common in a number of sports. ...
- Achilles Tendinitis. ...
- Concussion. ...
- Ankle Sprain. ...
- Tennis Elbow. ...
- Pulled Muscle. ...
- Groin Strain.
Overtraining – dancing for too long or too often can lead to a wide range of overuse injuries. Shin splints and stress fractures in the feet are common dance-related overuse injuries.What are the 3 types of injury? ›
Did you know that most athletic injuries can be boiled down into three main categories? Acute, Overuse, and Chronic.Why do my shins hurt after dancing? ›
Medial tibial stress syndrome – more commonly known as shin splints, is one of the most common stress injuries impacting dancers, and ballet dancers in particular. One of the most common overuse injuries, shin splints are the result of repeated stress to the muscle tissue surrounding the tibia.