Common Dance Injuries - IMPACT Physical Therapy

Common Dance Injuries

young ballerinas in class classical dance, ballet

The greatest dancers make their art look effortless, but dance demands high levels of stamina, strength, and flexibility. Serious dancers and dance students practice for hours at a time, performing repetitive movements that put them at risk of stress fractures and other overuse injuries.

When all is said and done, the best approach to common dance injuries is prevention! Still, every dancer will face injuries at some point on their path. Before that happens, it’s important to know how you should treat a common dance injury immediately after it occurs. Here’s what you need to know.

What Are the Most Common Injuries for Dancers?

Many of the most common dance injuries occur from putting too much repetitive strain on joints and muscles of the ankle, leg, foot, and lower back:

  • Feet & Ankles: Twisted, torn, or overstretched ligaments in the ankle; Achilles tendonitis; trigger toe; ankle impingement; metatarsal fractures, arthritis
  • Hips: Hip flexor tendonitis, hip bursitis, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, snapping hip syndrome, hip impingement, labral tears, arthritis
  • Knees: Patellofemoral pain syndrome, arthritis
  • Lower Legs: Tibial stress fractures

How to Prevent Common Dance Injuries

Why do dance injuries happen? Improper training, unhealthy diet, and overtraining can all result in common dance injuries like stress fractures, sprains, and strains. What’s healthy for one body isn’t always healthy for another! Get to know your body, eat a balanced diet that works for you, and learn your limits. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Rest: Intensive training requires rest time. Be sure to schedule recovery time between sessions, and reserve an “off-season” for rest and less intense training.
  • Nutrition: Proper nutrition is crucial for keeping up with a full schedule of dance sessions.
  • Cross Training: Cross-training exercises are helpful for muscle balance and preventing overuse injuries. Pilates, yoga, and light cardio are good places to start.
  • Warm-Ups: Take the time to warm up properly and hydrate before sessions.
  • Gear: Always practice and perform with the proper shoes and attire.

Treating Common Dance Injuries

How should you treat a common dance injury? Immediately! The first order of business is to reduce swelling and inflammation with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE). When swelling is down after several days, you can start applying heat instead to increase blood flow for better healing. That said, you can continue with ice for as long as it brings relief—everyone is different, and there’s no harm in icing for a longer period.Remember: do not ice before dancing or stretching! Starting activity with cold muscles increases your risk of reinjury.

Schedule Physical Therapy for Common Dance Injuries

Questions about how you should treat a common dance injury? Immediately contact your doctor if swelling and pain persist. Their recommendation will depend on the type and severity of your injury. RICE, joint protection, and physical therapy are usually enough for traumatic injuries like ankle sprains, while fractures typically require that you limit weight-bearing. 

If you’re looking for physical therapy to treat common dance injuries, you’re in the right place! IMPACT Physical Therapy provides a diverse array of specialty services at our clinics throughout Chicagoland. Request a virtual visit today, and let us help you get back to doing what you love!