Dancing can be a truly electrifying experience if Abba and Kenny Loggins are to be believed. However, it comes with its fair share of challenges, not least the risk of injuries.
From ankle sprains to snapping hip syndrome, we look at some of the most common dance injuries around.
This is probably the most common form of injury suffered by dancers. In fact, most dancers who practice regularly are likely to sprain their ankle at some stage in their lives.
Ankle sprains are caused by any movement that forces the ankle outside of the normal range of motion, resulting in its ligaments being overstretched or torn. A good example of this would be performing a jump or combination and landing incorrectly.
The symptoms of ankle sprains include loss of the joint and swelling in more severe cases. This injury can be prevented by carrying out different ankle exercises, but if you’re unfortunate enough to sprain your ankle, the best approach is to follow the trusted RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).
For those who maybe aren’t aware, the cartilage is a connective tissue which can be found in many areas of the body, including the elbows, knees and ankles. As you can imagine, cartilage tears are quite painful, and they often occur when landing, rotating or putting pressure on the joints.
One of the main types of cartilage tears is a meniscus tear, which is a tear in your knee. A dancer would most likely suffer a meniscus knee tear as a result of landing a jump wrong, twisting a knee, or turning out while straightening the knee.
If you suffer from this type of injury, there are plenty of exercises which can help you get back to full fitness. Regarding avoiding cartilage tears, it is worth carrying out different exercises to stabilise and strengthen your joints, which will help you achieve a full range of motion.
Simply put, Achilles tendonitis is where the large tissue between the calf and heel becomes tightened or inflamed. Regarded as an ‘overuse injury’, it is developed through excessive training over a short period, dancing on a hard floor and putting pressure on calf muscles which haven’t had a chance to warm up.
Dancers with an unbalanced range of motion and improper technique are most likely to suffer this kind of injury. Initially, you may feel a slight tenderness above the heel, but without proper care or attention, this can progress into acute pain, especially when performing a relevé, or pointe work.
Stretching and strengthening your Achilles will give you the best chance of avoiding this injury. If you suffer from Achilles tendonitis, your doctor will most likely recommend elevating your foot to decrease any swelling or taking an anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin.
Snapping hip syndrome
This aptly named injury is common among dancers and is characterised by a snapping or popping-like noise. In most cases, snapping hip syndrome is caused by moving a muscle or tendon over the bony part of the hip – for example, when extending the knee towards your torso.
Internal snapping hip syndrome is the most frequent type of snapping hip injury among dancers, due to the emphasis on external rotation within their sport, i.e. turning the knees outwards.
Although it is considered a long-term injury, there are various steps you can take to prevent the onset of snapping hip syndrome, such as foam rolling exercises and routinely stretching your hip flexors. The best treatment for snapping hip syndrome is physical therapy that focuses explicitly on strengthening your hip and core, such as massaging, stretching and ultrasound.
Lower back strain and spasms
It’s not just leg or foot injuries which can affect dancers. They are also at risk of upper body injuries such as back strain and spasms, as many dance movements are executed using the lower back and spine.
Tilting the pelvis downward and arching the lower back not only compresses spinal joints, but it also overloads the lower back, causing muscle fatigue. As such, dancers with weak back muscles, or a strength imbalance between their back and abdominals, are likely to encounter lower back strain at some point in their career.
Dancers with a curve in their lower back, also known as lordosis, are more prone to spasms. When their spine curves abnormally, the muscles are pulled in different directions, causing them to tighten or ‘spasm’.
Strong core muscles and a good posture are key to avoiding this unpleasant injury. However, if you or someone you know has suffered lower back strain or spasms, the above video and these tips here from the NHS will set you on the road to recovery.
If you didn’t already know, dance injuries can be very unpleasant and can put you out of action for long periods, hence why having specialist dance insurance is a must.
Our dance insurance includes Personal Accident cover, which protects you financially if you suffer a bad injury, and Loss of Earnings cover if you can’t work or earn money for some time.
Get an instant online quote with Insure4Sport today and leave nothing to chance when you step onto the mats.