Common dance injuries. explanation and treatment. (2023)

There are common dance injuries that are well known, but it's good to remember that how you dance can determine your main risks.

For example, dancers are likely to suffer from sprained ankles (due to the high demand for footwork); African-style dancers are at greater risk of neck or back injuries (due to the high dynamics of movements performed using the spine); urban dancers are most at risk for their knees (due to the attacking push-ups and screw-like extensions they do with their legs).

Therefore, if you are a contemporary dancer, your risks depend on the various techniques that make up your personal training or choreographic commitments.

Nonetheless, the usual injuries associated with dancing will be primarily those of our musculoskeletal system, resulting from constant physical exertion.

Below is a list of the most common, ranked by severity:


2.Rupture (or strain) of a muscle or ligament.





7.Overuse syndromes (chronic fatigue).

8.Vascular Syndromes.

Below is an explanation of each of them with a description of their treatment. You may find that there are some recurring principles that apply to the healing process for all common dance injuries:

- There are usually two distinct phases: an acute phase, in which swelling must be controlled and healing measures taken; a rehabilitation phase in which physiotherapy establishes a movement program to restore functionality and overall body awareness (safety, stability, strength and elasticity).

-During the acute phase, the so-called R.I.C.E. The principles apply in almost all cases (rest, ice, compression and elevation). Analgesics and anti-inflammatories are also helpful.

-It is very important to find the cause or causes that caused the situation to avoid recurrence. Without this, there is always a risk of relapse or chronic disease.


1. Spasm.

A spasm is a sustained and involuntary contraction that occurs after a muscular effort that implies overload.

Symptoms: Manifested as a decrease in the range of motion of the surrounding joints, pain (spontaneous and when the muscle is touched) and a sharp decrease in the performance of the affected muscle group. It could be the pre-condition of a muscle tear.


-Rest and regulation of the activity that caused the spasm.

-Application of local physical means: moist heat, deep heat (ultrasonic or short waves), professional massage (with oils or lubricants), gentle mechanical stretching.

(Video) Common Dancing Injuries

- Use of analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs. (It is said that the best way to relax the muscles is to take painkillers. This is because the spasms exhibit a circular behavior, causing one contraction to cause pain and then the pain causing more contractions So by eliminating the pain, you can break this circle and loosen the muscle fibers).

- Restart physical activity gradually and carefully to avoid relapse.

2. Rupture (or strain) of a muscle or ligament.

Common dance injuries. explanation and treatment. (1)Acute muscle tension. Figure in the “Orthopaedic Assistant Manual”. Schneider, FR. Moby, 1972.

A muscle tear is the loss of continuity between muscle fibers. It is the result of trauma or exertion that implies overload. There are two different types of fractures: longitudinal and transverse fractures.

A longitudinal tear (also known as a sports tear) occurs when muscle fibers pull apart, leaving a gap that can create scarf-like tissue. If not treated properly, this new tissue will lead to a decrease in muscle performance, as well as possible recurrence or worsening of the injury in the same area.

A transverse tear (also known as a degenerative tear) occurs when muscle fibers tear and lose contact with each other. This happens most often at the junction of the muscle and tendon, where it ends.

Symptoms: local pain, loss of function of the affected muscle group, swelling, local bleeding.


• Acute Phase:

-It is good to use diagnostic methods such as ultrasound or MRI to define the anatomical damage. This is especially important with transverse tears as these may need to be repaired surgically.

-Avoid overexerting yourself or repeating the exercises that caused the damage.

- Apply physical means to reduce inflammation: ice, careful compression bandages.

- Analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs.

- Allow a healing period before resuming physical activity (may take up to five weeks).

• Rehabilitationsphase:

- Restore the elasticity of the muscle group or ligament.

-Strengthen the area to regain effectiveness, safety and overall body awareness.

3. Tendonitis.

Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon structure as a result of repeated major trauma or minor trauma.

Symptoms: local edema, pain and loss of function.


-Avoid any activity that may continue to cause local injury or irritation.

- Gentle rest, depending on the severity of the inflammation (because immobilization is usually not necessary).

- Analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs.


-Use of physical means: heat and cold, together with stretching and successive strengthening (both are necessary and performed from the beginning of the treatment).

- Local injections with anti-inflammatory steroids (which have a local effect).

4. Sprain.

A sprain is the partial tearing of the ligaments (connective tissue fibers) that provide support and stability to the joints. They are a consequence of trauma caused by forces that produce displacements that exceed physiological limits and can compromise the stability of the joint.

Sprains are classified into groups (3 grades) according to the severity of the inflammation, but primarily according to the increased and abnormal mobility they produce in the joint. The most common are ankle and knee sprains.

Symptoms: acute pain immediately after trauma, rapid local swelling, severe loss of function of the affected joint.


-RICE. begin

- Analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs.

In mild cases:

- Soft compression bandages ('Robert Jones' compression bandages, not elastic).

In severe cases:

-Possibility of rigid immobilization of the joint. The time depends on the pain, the degree of inflammation and changes in joint stability.

In the most serious cases:

-Surgical repair may be required depending on the youth of the person or as with dancers (whose profession is physically impaired).

In all cases, a rehabilitation program is required to regain full body awareness and functionality.

Follow this link to read a related article about the specific case of an ankle sprain.

5. Offset.

A dislocation is a partial or complete loss of physical cohesion between two surfaces of a joint that are meant to stay together. It is created by an external force that leads to the rupture of various structures that support the joint (capsular ligament).

Symptoms: As a result of the trauma, there is a grotesque deformity of the joint, severe pain, complete functional impairment and changes in general vital functions.

Dislocation implies an imminent possibility of injury to arterial and peripheral nerves (due to dislocation). It is considered a true orthopedic emergency.


It is very important that friends or bystanders do not attempt to move or repair the affected joint. The person should be transferred to a medical facility immediately and as far as possible.

-Check that no fractures are associated with the dislocation. - Mechanical or surgical restoration of joint placement.


(Video) Dance Injury, Diagnosis, and Management

• Rehabilitationsphase

-Functional recovery of the affected area with physiotherapy (stretching, strengthening and body awareness recovery).

6. Bruch.

Common dance injuries. explanation and treatment. (2)

A fracture is the partial or total loss of continuity of a bony structure (a bone). It is usually caused by direct or indirect trauma but can also be caused by diseases or practices that weaken bone structure.

Some fractures are not caused by major trauma but by repeated minor trauma. They are called stress fractures and are common among athletes.

Symptoms: deformity, severe pain, edema, loss of function and bleeding.

A fracture is considered an orthopedic emergency.


If a fracture is suspected, the area must be completely immobilized. The person should be taken to a medical facility immediately, where doctors will confirm the diagnosis with x-rays.

-The fracture may require internal immobilization (by surgery) or external immobilization (plaster or splints). The period of time until the fracture is judged clinically and radiologically to have healed (a period of time is recognized but is different for each bone).

- Resting and anti-inflammatory agents.

• Rehabilitationsphase

-Functional recovery of the affected area with physiotherapy (stretching, strengthening and body awareness recovery).

7. Overuse Syndrome (aka Chronic Fatigue).

Overuse syndromes are manifestations of local or generalized swelling caused by repetition, forced training, or improper technique in muscle or ligament structures. They don't seem to do any damage, but they do cause pain and reduce physical abilities. They are also a precursor to degenerative lesions (any of the above).

Symptoms: pain, increased muscle tone, loss of elasticity, loss of ability to recover after exertion and loss of function.


-Especially in the case of physically handicapped people, a stress and working method assessment is required. The aim is to identify and correct the events that led to the overload syndrome.

Once the diagnosis is defined:

-Start progressive physical therapy. The goal is to strengthen the stress that caused the overload so that work becomes an easy task and the overload goes away.

- Start occupational therapy (experts analyze the causes of the situation and take corrective measures.

- Analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs.

8. Vascular syndromes.

Vascular syndromes are less common and do not belong to musculoskeletal injuries. However, they can be caused by strenuous physical activity, as they can be a result of direct major trauma or repetitive minor trauma (such as exertion or training).

(Video) See the Most Common Dance Injuries in 3D

Vascular structures (arteries, veins and lymph vessels) can swell and even become blocked. This leads to local swelling symptoms, some of which are serious, as well as all the consequences resulting from the obstruction of blood or lymph flow.

Symptoms: local edema, pain, ischemia (local, regional or total reduction in blood flow in a limb), venous congestion and diffuse edema.


-It is important to make an early diagnosis because vascular syndromes can lead to serious conditions, although the cause is not always serious. If vascular syndrome is suspected, it is very important to see a doctor immediately.

- The doctor decides whether to treat only with rest and anti-inflammatory drugs or whether drug anticoagulation or catheterization (vascular cleaning procedure) is required.


Common dance injuries can be treated. Going through one of these situations does not necessarily mean that the dancer's career is over. Of course, keep in mind that all injuries have almost lifelong consequences, which are a constant nuisance and risk with physical activity.

Ideally, dancers should avoid injury entirely. This would only be possible if each of them, under medical supervision if necessary, carefully monitors their own state of health.

Best of all, preventative measures are taken very seriously according to each dancer's specific physiological needs. If the lesion persists, serious and careful treatment must be given to reduce damage and possible future recurrences.

related reading:

Dancers neck pain

10 Common Dance Injuries

Related Sites:

Medical website of the Rudolph Nureyev Foundation

The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries

This content is of high quality but is for general information only. It should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice from your own physician or other healthcare professional.danza-contemporanea.orgis not responsible for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content of this page. Always consult your own doctor if you are concerned about your health.

Common Dance Injuries was written under the direction of Doctor Juan Guillermo Naranjo, Orthopedic Surgeon, Professional License Number 01 2882/1973.

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