Physiotheraphy for Dancers

Apr 4, 2022 | Latest News

Now that we are well into 2022, many winter sports and extracurricular activities are also returning after a summer break. For some people this might include dance, ballet, gymnastics or calisthenics. Physiotherapist Danica (our resident dance enthusiast) would like to share some information regarding the management and prevention of injuries in dancers.

Injury Prevention and Management in Dancers

(Danica Lang, Physiotherapist)

Like many sports and activities, dance can unfortunately result in both acute (sudden onset) and niggling injuries. Due the unique load requirements of many dance genres, the injuries associated with these activities can be quite different to those sustained during other sports. For example, many dance genres involve repetitive jumping movements, high levels of hip external rotation (turn-out), high levels of load on the feet and ankles (tap and ballet) and high degrees of flexibility.

Some characteristics of dance related injuries include:

• The majority (68%) of dance related injuries are caused by overuse (repetitive stress on a joint, muscle, tendon or bone resulting in damage to that structure)
• The most common areas of injury in dancers are the ankle/foot (29%) and thigh/leg (28%) in classical and contemporary and the knee (43%) in tap and folk dancing

Luckily, there are multiple ways to reduce the risk of such injuries in dancers. These include:

  • Gradual build up in training load, hours and intensity. A lot of injuries occur after having time off dance. If you have had more than 1 week without any dance training, be sure to return gradually. Start back at slightly reduced hours, work within your limits and listen to your body. If you start to experience pain or discomfort avoid pushing through it, particularly if it is worsening throughout a session.
  • Have adequate rest, recovery and nutrition. Ensure you cool down after training, have at least 1-2 rest days per week (no dance or high intensity exercise) and eat a well-balanced diet including adequate carbohydrates and protein for muscle recovery and bone health.
  • Having a dance injury screening appointment with a physiotherapist. Prevention is key! Screening assessments help to identify any areas of weakness or imbalance and allow for prescription or exercises to help combat these concerns. This is particularly important for:
    • Anyone looking to pursue a full-time dance position
    • Anyone dancing more than 15 hours per week</>
    • Ballet students who are ready to commence dancing in pointe shoes
    • Dancers who are experiencing pain whilst dancing or have an injury

At PCB we offer dance screening services for all of the above listed reasons. I personally have a background in dance and calisthenics and have undergone training with some of Australia’s leading dance physiotherapists to perform pre-pointe assessments, tertiary dance assessments, general dance assessments and to assist with management of dance related injuries. In addition, my fellow physiotherapist and colleague Courtney also has a background in artistic gymnastics and is therefore well-equipped to manage injuries associated with acro, tumbling or gymnastics. If you would like more information on our dance related services or would like to make a booking, please call our friendly reception team on 5442 4044

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