Dance trainings are physically demanding and challenging. Working hard on your body every day to reach that perfect position is definitely going to be stressful on your body. Hence it’s not uncommon that most dancers will experience dance injuries at least once in their lifetime.
Having injuries is a nightmare for dancers. The effect it has on your body is detrimental to the long hours of training you have worked hard on. Also, you might even need to take a long break from dancing if it’s a more serious case. Yikes!
Luckily enough, there are ways to prevent dance injuries. Here’s how!
Strengthen the Smallest Feet Muscles
The Australian Ballet has a reputable research approach on injury prevention for the dancers in the company. Dr. Sue Mayes, their principal physiotherapist since 1997 and director of the team, says that foot muscles are what gives dancers the propulsion and spring through the toes. Meaning dancers are not just landing with no strength.
She teaches a simple daily exercise that helps to focus and strengthen on the complex little foot muscles. So instead of overusing the joints, these little foot muscles will help dancers to absorb landings.
Here’s how to do it:
- Sit on a chair with your knees and ankles bent at 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor.
- Wrap a resistance band around your big toe without lifting the other toes up.
- Pull that toe down straight. Hold it for 1–2 seconds, then slowly release.
- Repeat it 10 times.
- Once you are more comfortable with the exercise, try the same with the little toe, and then with the second, third and fourth toes.
Limit Stretching and Foam Rolling
Ever heard of dancers “rolling out their knots”?
Foam rolling has gained popularity in dancers’ warm up routine. It part of a bigger category known as Self-Myofascial Release (SMR), or self-massage. Essentially, it massages the damaged fascia and restores its natural pliability. At the same time, it suppresses receptors that are stimulating the associated muscle tightness. Many dancers, and even athletes, have said that they experience better range of movement and mobility from foam rolling.
However, it is also important to maintain a balance between mobility and stability. Too much passive stretching and endless foam rolling may prevent you from reaching your full potential.
Our bodies’ joints are designed to form a kinetic chain where alternating joints are ideal for providing both stability or mobility. However, this balance can be altered through repetitive use or faulty movement patterns which causes a higher risk of getting injured. In fact, having extreme hypermobility will leave you susceptible to injury. As foam rolling is an intervention aimed at exacerbating mobility (which you already have) should be approached with caution.
Mayes also says that you should think of your body as a spring, not a piece of floppy gum. By continuously rolling out every part of your body, you are depleting that spring. Instead, she recommends that strengthening is much more effective in restoring power.
In conclusion, you can do foam rolling, but it should be done in moderation and correctly.
Do Cross- Training Exercises
Making a habit to do cross-training exercises can greatly help in building strength and endurance in all parts of your body. The stronger your body, the more you are able to sustain yourself and prevent dance injuries.
It’s important for dancers to keep up with cardio workouts during regular training. This should be done in moderation and in short intervals to prevent from over stressing the joints. The best is to have 30 minutes for 3 – 4 times a week. You’ll be surprised at how much your endurance will improve!
Core and and hip strengthening exercises are highly recommended for dancers. These can be done through Pilates or stability- based yoga. For exercises to build stamina, try out aerobics and cardiovascular activities such as swimming and running.
Dancing is no doubt hard work on your body. If you’re thinking of dancing for long, the best thing you can ever do for yourself is to take care of it. Most importantly, listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, stop what you’re doing and consult with your teacher.
We hope these tips on how to prevent dance injuries will help you have a happy and safe dancing experience!
If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your core muscles, you can read more about it in our article on 5 Exercises You Can Do Anywhere To Strengthen Your Core.
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