Prevention: Dancing Injuries by Dakota McCarthy
Dancing, while a beautiful and expressive performance art, can easily lead to injuries if one is not careful. As a dedicated dancer for four years in high school, I can say confidently that prevention is preferable over the long and painful process of recovery. There are four main players to prevent injuries for dancers: the dancer (you), the dancer’s parents, the instructors, and their primary care doctor. Each plays an equally important role in not only preventing injuries, but recovery as well.
You, the dancer, know your body and your limits better than anyone else. The first and possibly the most important way to prepare your body and avoid any painful injuries is to properly warm up and cooldown before and after activities. Stretching for at least ten minutes before dance classes can loosen up tight muscles and prevent them from seizing or pulling during routines. Stretching after practice for longer periods will help stop muscle aches and soreness that could persist for days afterwards. Another very simple yet very important step- drink plenty of water! Dancing is exercise and your body will expel water causing you to sweat which keeps your body from overheating. Drinking water will keep dehydration at bay which also causes muscle cramping, dizziness and fainting. And finally, never push yourself past your limits. If you feel a pull or any sort of pain after a move, just stop. You’ll do yourself no favors by pushing yourself.
Parents are equally important contributing factors for injury prevention. Encouraging your child to reach for the stars and do their best helps inspire commitment to the arts, but never push your child past their limits. If you notice that your child is starting to struggle, remind them it is ok and to not force themselves. Desperation for perfection can easily cause one to become more reckless and roll an ankle or strain the back. Most importantly, watch for any signs of nutritional or psychological changes. Dancing, especially when it becomes competitive, can start causing anxiety and eating disorders during the aspiration to become the best. Being involved, supportive, and encouraging of your child’s dance career is significant for your child’s overall health and success.
Instructors are at the forefront of the dance career since they’re the ones teaching. Instructors should always allot appropriate time for water breaks, warm ups and cool downs, and they should conduct skill-appropriate practices. If you as a dancer or a parent notice routines that are far out of your capability to perform, you should never push or be pushed to attempt it. Instructors should be aware of their students and what their abilities. They should also create an environment that’s fun and understanding. If the instructor is more focused on results than progress, you will be more likely to end up hurting yourself frequently and spending increasingly longer times in recovery than actual practice.
And finally, your doctor is a fountain of knowledge for you as a dancer and a parent to consult with to prevent injuries. Regular and timely visits to keep on top of your health helps in the day-to-day. Also, your doctor can monitor your physical capabilities and weaknesses. If injury does occur, always be seen immediately to prevent it from it progressing into a worse, long-term injury that will follow you through life.
The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.