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INJURIES IN DANCERS
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Dancers can sustain a variety of injuries, usually involving the lower half of the body, especially the foot and ankles. These injuries can be categorized by the nature of the injury (e.g. tendonitis, bursitis, stress fractures, and strains), the duration of onset (e.g. acute vs chronic), or the mechanism (e.g. overuse or trauma).

There are many risk factors that can predispose dancers to injury. These include, but are not limited to:

• The skill/level of the dancer

• The age of the dancer

• The type of dance

• The frequency and duration of practices and performances

• Body type, alignment, and flexibility

• Foot shape and arch

• Prior injuries or other medical conditions

• Nutrition

• Dance environment or surface

Although some variables cannot be changed, there are many things a dancer can do to prevent injury. This includes:

• Proper warm-up and cool-down

• Stretching to improve flexibility

• Properly fitting footwear

• Focus on good posture

• Working on correct mechanics (e.g. turnout)

• Healthy diet and weight

• Staying hydrated

• Looking for “warning signs,” such as altered menstruation, disordered eating, or frequent reinjury

• Knowing limits; athletes should know what their bodies are capable of doing

If an injury is sustained, it is important that the instructor, athletic trainer, therapist, or parent and/or medical professional be notified early on, in order that the proper diagnosis can be made. This will lead to faster recovery and creation of prevention techniques. Trying to “tough it out” and dance through the pain or ignore ‘warning signs’ can often lead to further injury and even jeopardize the ability to continue or return to dancing. Because no two dancers are alike and injuries can differ in severity, recovery time and rehabilitation plans can vary greatly between individuals. Lines of communication should be kept open between the dancer and with instructors, trainers, and other trusted individuals.

AMSSM Member Authors
Jason Brucker MD and Craig Young MD

Category: Dance, Foot and Ankle, Overuse Injuries,

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