Dance Injuries and Exercise
Dance injuries are preventable. Dance can be an excellent form of exercise. Many dance students and professionals sustain injuries caused by high impact, repetitive stress. Often, these types of injuries are preventable; but when they do occur, they require specific types of care. Recreational dancers may also sustain injury. Often, they have no idea of what they are doing to their bodies as a result of their dancing, and as some medical/dance journals have noted, they have no idea of the risks associated with popular dancing.
Dancers at all levels need to understand the limitations of their own body and their partner’s body. For instance a woman with a weak knee, ankle or who is just plain tired can lose balance and fall during a spin. Real physical injury to both partners can occur. Mental stress can also put a dancer at risk of injury. Nervousness in class or just life issues can tax your concentration and that can be dangerous on the dance floor. Generally, teachers are nice people. They there to help, so if you have a problem, talk to them!
If an injury does occur while dancing, it will most likely happen to the foot and ankle, knee or low back. Ankle sprains, fractures and dislocations occur as a result of the ankle being forcefully turned in or out. This can happen if you lose balance during a spin or even in basic movements if you are putting too much pressure on the ankle to compensating for poor technique or your body is stressing the ankle as it tries to compensate for stress on some other part of the leg. Preventive techniques include foot strengthening exercises, coordination of position and movement between dance partners, proper fitting shoes, and a warm up period before getting too aggressive on the floor.
Normal bending and stretching of the knee will cause little or no problems for the average dancer, as the ligaments are tight, protecting the knee joint. However with a partial knee bent step the ligaments become looser across the joint. This can predispose it to injury. This problem can be circumvented by avoiding jerky movements that put too much strain on the muscles and joints.
Low back pain can develop while dancing from numerous causes. A partner mismatched for size, loss of balance, dips, twists, pelvic rock and drops are just a few examples. Learning to dance with a strong core (keeping the buttock and abdominal muscles in condition) can go a long way toward prevention of low back injuries on the dance floor.
Dance is a wonderful form of exercise. It can increase muscle tone, endurance, strength and definition. Cardiovascular benefits include increased blood flow to the limbs and brain. Improved clarity of thought, stress reduction and having fun are health benefits as well. If you have a problem that affects your dancing, pay attention to it; if you take lessons, notify your instructor. If the problem persists, is severe in character, or does not resolve within in a reasonable period of time it is a good idea to consult a doctor.