Dancers rehearse for hours and hours on end, often performing the same movements over and over during one rehearsal. This frequent repetition of movement places dancers at risk of developing overuse injuries. In fact, 50% - 80% of all dancers will have an overuse injury at least once during their career. Performing challenging choreography can also place the dancer at risk of suffering an acute injury (like an ankle sprain or a hamstring strain). The majority of injuries to dancers occur in the foot, ankle, and knee, and many of these injuries can affect dancers long after they have stopped dancing.
The Performing Arts Medicine Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital has designed a supervised exercise program to equip young dancers with the tools they need to protect themselves from the most common dance injuries. By addressing the following common risks for dance injuries, your child is less likely to have an injury this dance season:
Muscle imbalances (short, tight, and strong muscles vs. elongated, weak muscles): Muscle imbalances on the same side of the body (i.e. quadriceps vs. hamstrings in the leg) and between sides of the body (i.e. right leg stronger than left leg) can lead to injuries and chronic pain. By stretching the tight muscles and strengthening the weak muscles, such imbalances can be corrected. Our Injury Prevention class will address core, upper body, and lower body muscular imbalances common to dancers by teaching participants appropriate exercises to strengthen weak muscles and to stretch short, tight muscles.
Relaxation techniques, including proper breathing techniques: Dancers face a great deal of stress from casting and auditions and can also experience performance anxiety. Mental relaxation techniques, including proper breathing techniques, can decrease stress and help a dancer conquer the symptoms of performance anxiety. Our Injury Prevention class will show participants ways to decrease their stress.
Balance:Whether dancing en pointe, partnering, or performing repertoire that requires dancers to be on stage in awkward positions for long periods of time, dancers must have good balance to perform well. Having good balance also reduces a dancer’s risk of injury. The muscles that control the body while it is balancing help stabilize the joints these muscles surround, which protects the joint’s ligaments. Participants in our Injury Prevention class will learn how to improve their balance through performing challenging exercises.
Cardiovascular fitness:The majority of dancers are not fit enough to meet the physical demands of their choreography. Not only can low levels of cardiovascular fitness have a negative impact on a dancer’s performance, but being physically unfit can put the dancer at a higher risk of developing an injury due to fatigue. The structure and pace of our Injury Prevention class will elevate participants’ heart rates and show them ways to improve their cardiovascular fitness.