Dance is much more than just the art of moving or performing choreography; it’s a sport that requires specific motor skills such as balance, flexibility, strength and muscular power. Thus, dancers impose joint, ligament and muscle constraints on their body by using these structures in unusual postures, angles, and movements. The most common injuries are ligament or muscle damage (sprains, elongations, strains, tears) and these usually occur in the lower limbs. However, the upper limbs, back, and neck can also be harmed.
To reduce the risk of injury it’s important, before a workout, to start with a warm-up session that will employ the muscles, tendons, and ligaments to be used during the activity. Warming up helps to increase the temperature of your muscles, which will then relax and stretch and become easily malleable, reducing the risk of elongations. Furthermore, to avoid unnecessary stress on the structures, it’s essential to perform the movements (jumps, descents to the ground, pliés, etc.) with a good technique.
It’s also important to let your body rest and recover between workouts. Avoid overtraining!
Finally, a muscle stretching session at the end of your workout will help your muscles recover and reduce muscle soreness.
If despite an adequate warm-up an injury occurs, the word to remember is RICE. The R stands for “rest”. It is, therefore, necessary to stop the activity and rest the affected structure. If the injury occurs to the lower limbs, it’s recommended to use crutches to avoid putting a load on the affected leg. The I is for “ice”, which must be applied to the injury during the first 48 hours. This helps reduce pain and inflammation. C is for "compression". A bandage may be applied to the injury to decrease inflammation and immobilize the affected joint. Finally, the E is for "elevation". Raising the injured leg will also help decrease inflammation.