Dance can be made to look effortless to the observer, but it is a rigorous and demanding sport requiring precise technique as well as exceptional range of motion and strength throughout the entire body. Young dancers struggling to achieve ideal form (often the elusive 180 degree turnout) sometimes push past the limits of their bodies and can suffer injuries, most commonly at the back, hip, knee, ankle, or foot.
Researchers have assessed large groups of dancers at the start of a season and then tracked the injuries that were sustained throughout the year in attempt to determine what factors may predispose dancers to injury. Evidence has shown that side to side asymmetries in flexibility as well as decreased core and lower body strength are risk factors for injury! You might be thinking that dancers get strong everywhere they need just from dancing, but this is not the case. When dancers only dance and do not perform any additional strengthening they can fall into patterns of overuse where certain areas of the body get very tight and other muscles get weak due to the repetitive movements.
During peak growth spurts, usually between age 10-12 for females, there are important changes occurring in the body that can affect strength, coordination, and flexibility. During this time frame the bones throughout your body are getting longer which causes increased tension in the muscles and tendons that attach to these bones. This increased tension is the stimulus for the muscles to lengthen, but before that happens there is a period of decreased flexibility and strength that occurs. This can be a prime time for injury and unfortunately often coincides with the time when young dancers are increasing their dance training hours.
An important way to decrease your risk of injury is to visit a medical professional for an evaluation or screening before you have any pain!! Per the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science “screening provides a great opportunity for dancers to learn more about their bodies, optimize performance and identify injury risk.” After your strength, range of motion, balance, and motor control have all been evaluated, the medical provider can help you come up with a plan for addressing any areas of weakness, tightness, or asymmetry. Performing a strength and mobility exercise program 3 days a week can significantly decrease your risk of injury as well as help improve your dancing!
The physical therapists at Girl Fit Physical Therapy in Newton are skilled at treating dance related injuries as well as performing screens and dealing with the unique needs of dancers. They would love to see you before you sustain an injury and will work with you to create an individualized plan to be as strong, flexible, and confident as you can be! We also designed a strength and flexibility class called Girl Fit with dancers specifically in mind in order to provide dancers with another way to stay strong, keep well balanced flexibility, and stay injury free! Call us today at 617-618-9290 to schedule a wellness visit or to find out more about our classes! We’d love to have you and your friends come join us for a fun workout. First class is free!
Stay strong and dance your heart out!
? Christina, Violet, Katie, and Kate at Girl Fit Physical Therapy
55 Chapel Street, Suite 030, Newton, MA 02458
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