Common dance injuries include sprains and strains, where your muscles and ligaments are overstretched or twisted.
Additionally, dancers can also sustain impact injuries, such as bruises caused by falling, collisions, trips, and slips. Ill-fitting shoes can cause foot and toes injuries.
Most dancers train between 6 to 35 hours per week. Due to the number of training hours and repetition involved in ballet, many of the injuries sustained by dancers are overuse injuries rather than acute injuries. This means that the injury results from gradual wear and tear that progressively worsens over time, rather than being caused by one specific incident. It is crucial to have these types of injuries treated early, and the cause of the injury corrected so that the damage doesn’t worsen to a point where it is restricting everyday activities, including dancing.
Often overuse injuries can be caused by growth spurts, muscle imbalance, incorrect technique, a change or increase in usual training load, a change or additional rehearsal and performance schedule, or incorrectly fitting footwear, especially pointe shoes.
The most common overuse injuries in dancers fall into three categories including; tendinopathies, sprains (injuries that involve ligaments) and strains (injuries that affect muscles). Some common overuse injuries for ballet dancers include:
- Leg and Ankle
Dance injuries and prevention strategies are best developed with the assistance of a dance physiotherapist.
Acute Injury Signs
Acute Injury Management.
Here are some warning signs that you have an injury. While some injuries are immediately evident, others can creep up slowly and progressively get worse. If you don't pay attention to both types of injuries, chronic problems can develop.
For detailed information on specific injuries, check out the injury by body part section.
Don't Ignore these Injury Warning Signs
Joint pain, particularly in the knee, ankle, elbow, and wrist joints, should never be ignored. Because these joints are not covered by muscle, pain here is rarely of muscular origin. Joint pain that lasts more than 48 hours requires a professional diagnosis.
If you can elicit pain at a specific point in a bone, muscle, or joint, you may have a significant injury by pressing your finger into it. If the same spot on the other side of the body does not produce the same pain, you should probably see your health professional.
Nearly all sports or musculoskeletal injuries cause swelling. Swelling is usually quite obvious and can be seen, but occasionally you may feel as though something is swollen or "full" even though it looks normal. Swelling usually goes along with pain, redness and heat.
Reduced Range of Motion
If the swelling isn't obvious, you can usually find it by checking for a reduced range of motion in a joint. If there is significant swelling within a joint, you will lose range of motion. Compare one side of the body with the other to identify major differences. If there are any, you probably have an injury that needs attention.
Compare sides for weakness by performing the same task. One way to tell is to lift the same weight with the right and left sides and look at the result. Or try to place body weight on one leg and then the other. A difference in your ability to support your weight is another suggestion of an injury that requires attention.
Immediate Injury Treatment: Step-by-Step Guidelines
- Stop the activity immediately.
- Wrap the injured part in a compression bandage.
- Apply ice to the injured part (use a bag of crushed ice or a bag of frozen vegetables).
- Elevate the injured part to reduce swelling.
- Consult your health practitioner for a proper diagnosis of any serious injury.
- Rehabilitate your injury under professional guidance.
- Seek a second opinion if you are not improving.