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Managing injuries in dancers

When treating Dancers, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the extreme physiological demands this sport has on the body. From a young age, the physical demand, expectations and high training loads is somewhat a norm and so education plays a key role when managing dance injuries.

The most common area for dance injury includes the foot and ankle, knee, hip and lower back. Aesthetically, one example is having the best hip turnout, something we all want and it’s tempting to stretch and force our hips to get it there. I am guilty of this myself! When I was professionally dancing something I didn’t know was structurally there are something’s about my genetic makeup I cannot change, no matter how hard I trained!

Five important factors that affect hip turnout include angle of femoral anteversion, orientation of the acetabulum, shape of the femoral neck, elasticity of iliofemoral or Y ligament and the flexibility and strength of the muscle-tendon unit. How was I ever going to change the shape of my thigh bone!? Thankfully evidence has evolved and we know with confidence what we can change, is the strength and motor control of our muscles. Physiotherapy can provide specific and appropriate strengthening and motor control exercises for muscles that support the hip joint, practising recruitment of the right muscles for the movement efficiently and without compensating.

Load management and recovery

It is common for young dancers to be training a minimum 20 hours per week. Dancers are resilient, our bodies are strong and robust. But from one dancer to another don’t ignore the little niggles as they can potentially progress to pain and injury. Short term sacrifice for long term longevity! High training loads without sufficient relative rest can surpass the body’s tissue tolerance to adapt and therefore risk of injury can occur, such as a stress fracture.

If you are a dancer and reading this, make sure you are having consistent sleep (8 hours) and allowing yourself to have sufficient recovery time. This includes mentally and physically, without feeling guilty for it! Lack of sleep and fatigue can increase risk of injury and even heighten current pain, meaning it can be set off easily by the simplest of things. A healthy food plan will also compliment your body’s durability and tolerance to training load and if you are unsure about what this looks like for you, then I suggest seeking professional advice from a Dietician.

Concisely, your body is your tool and you only get one! So take very…very good care of it to make certain, you are dancing through life for as long as your heart desires.

At Prana, we offer Dance Physiotherapy which involves assessment, treatment, and prevention of dance-related injuries. Our Dance Physiotherapists have personal experience in the performing arts industry and have a deep understanding of the intense physiological demands that dance requires of the human body. Click the button below to book your appointment today!


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