Grace, beauty, and elegance. When you think of dance, that’s what comes to mind. You don’t think of neck injuries, a throbbing rotator cuff, lower back muscle spasms, aching knees, or painful pinching sensations in your heel.
Yes, dance, as fun and graceful as it looks, has its own potential injuries, just like any other exercise.
Take a look at some of the foot and ankle injuries you can experience in dance (whether you’re 14 or 40), and what you can do to prevent them:
You know the long tendon on the back of your heel. That’s your achilles. Repeated use can cause it to feel strained and inflamed.
Treatment: If you keep dancing on it, you put yourself at risk of a tear. Achilles heel tears are extremely painful and take a long time to recover from. When you notice inflammation, take a break.
Sharp directional changes, high jumps, and difficult landings all make dance a likely place where you could sprain your ankle.
Treatment: The good news is most ankle sprains do not require surgery. Yours may if you don’t notice good progress in healing within a couple days. Rest, keeping your ankle elevated, and ice are the cure.
You may have already had these if you were a runner, or if your son or daughter ran competitively. They happen in dance too. A “shin splint” is when the lining of your bone tears away from your bone after extensive use.
Treatment: Again, it’s rest. You have to listen to your doctor’s advice until you’re ready to come back from your injury. If your shin splints don’t get better, you may have a stress fracture.
Usually, dancing itself doesn’t cause this injury. However, if your dance shoes fit too tightly, they can cause irritation and make your bunions hurt.
Treatment: Make sure you have comfortable dance shoes. Use warm soaks and ice packs frequently.
This painful condition is when you experience pain in the rear of your ankle. It’s most common when you perform pointe or demi pointe.
Treatment: It’s fairly straightforward. Your physician may recommend stretching, ice, physical therapy, or massage. Cortisone injections may be used when pain is more intense.
Enjoy dancing. And just make that if you notice any signs of pain, don’t ignore them. Act fast and modify your dance routine so they don’t turn into something far more painful.