Dancing related injuries
This article is by our Islington osteopath Dianne King and looks at the injuries dancers are prone too.
General injuries dancer's suffer with:
• Ankle injuries
• Foot injuries
• Knee injuries
• Hamstring injuries
• Back injuries
Dancing and other sport activities can be extremely strenuous on the mind and especially the body. As an Osteopath in Islington who has had experience with dance and various sports I understand the demand of these activities on the body, especially the joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Generally muscle cramps, sprains and aches are experienced regularly either during dancing or after. These general injuries can be prevented by taking the time to properly warm up the major muscles of the body. New dancers especially must build their strength and flexibility slowly and safely.
The most common dance injuries I see working as an osteopath in Islington are:
• Ankle Sprains and Foot Injuries
• Knee Injuries
• Hamstring Injuries
• Back Injuries
This injury is the most common when dancing. Only a few dancers are able to perform without spraining their ankle. Ankle sprains are defined by the severity of the sprain; Grade 1 (mild), Grade 2 (moderate) and Grade 3 (severe). With a grade 1 sprain, you may get away with just applying the standard treatment for all acute injuries: RICE, an acronym for rest, ice, compression and elevation. Obviously, a higher grade would require more treatment.
As an Osteopath I believe it is vital to commence with conservative treatment, along with lifestyle advice and rest, if in spite of this the ankle is still weak, painful, you may need surgery.
A good example of foot injury is plantar fasciitis, which is particularly common in ballet dancers. This condition is an inflammatory process to the plantar fascia, which is the broad tissue on the sole of the heel. Pain is mostly felt in the heel or the arch of the foot. Dancers have to be very careful of how they jump and land. Treatment usually involves rest and assuring the dancer has good footwear.
The knee is one of the largest joints in the body and therefore the most vulnerable. Depending on the dance genre knee injuries can be quite common. If the choreography involves a lot of squats and bending such as street dance this can be most damaging to the knee tissues especially the cartilage.
Knee injuries that are commonly experienced in relation to dance are meniscal, cartilage and ligamentous injuries. Treatment should again involve RICE and definite conservative treatment for a minimum of 6 weeks depending on the severity.
I recommend that anybody who is interested in dancing should make sure their hip range of movement is sufficient enough before committing to a dance group. This is to ensure that you are not over-using your knee in certain dance movements hence increasing the vulnerability for an injury.
The hamstrings (and also quadriceps) are used in a majority of dances which utilize the lower body. Most of us suffer from tight hamstrings and funnily enough this is the main cause for hamstring injuries in dancers. Again I can’t stress how important it is to conduct a good warm up to these muscles and more importantly a cool down. Stretching is a gruelling task that not many people enjoy but it is very necessary.
There are a wide range of back problems that can occur while dancing. Facet irritation or muscle sprain or spasm, are the most common problems that can occur in the back whilst dancing.
As a dancer you have to be cautious of your posture when doing a dance routine that involves your back, as you are placing a lot of emotional stress on the joints and this can be the reason why most of you say “Owww! My back has gone!”
Physical therapy such as Osteopathy is your best bet, again depending on the severity. In regards to advice it is important to maintain a correct posture. This means taking into account your core stability also.
Dancing injuries may be inevitable however there is a wide range of things you can do to reduce the severity and discomfort, as mentioned above.
I enjoy integrating the knowledge I have obtained as an osteopath with the skills I have learnt whilst dancing to produce an effective programme to prevent, treat and manage injuries effectively at my Islington clinic.
For more information about dancing related injuries or to book an appointment with our osteopath in Islington at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic click below.