Common Dance Injuries and why self-treatment is not the solution.

Laws (2005) reported that 61% of these occurred in rehearsal, perhaps due to longer rehearsal hours and/or increased pressure that comes with rehearsing for a show or performance. However this figure is likely to be much higher due to the cultural insecurity in dance, dancers often have to cope with their injury as well as deal with the pressure to perform whilst injured. But why is it that dancers do not report their injuries or seek medical help, is it because a dancer fears losing their role or status within a company? Latest research suggests that dancers are at a higher risk of injury due to the enormous physical and emotional demands placed upon them. This is possibly due to the high expectation of physical excellence, pressure to maintain low bodyweight, fierce competition, lack of job security and exhausting training schedules that all create great stress and anxiety in a dancer’s professional life. Therefore it seems it is maybe a cultural adjustment that needs to take place, this concept that is not acceptable as a dancer to be injured needs to be changed and reassurance is required that a performance position is not at risk before dancers will admit to their injuries. However, that said this culture does appear to be changing. In the second national inquiry into dancers’ health and injury, Laws (2005) reported that 60% of dancers would seek help if they suspected an injury compared to just 37% reported in 1996. In addition to this the percentage of dancers that would self-treat has also decreased from 76% to 41% suggesting that dancers are being more attentive to their bodies and see the benefits of seeking medical advice to help them cope with their injuries.

My advice to all you dancers out there whether it is recreational or professional, if you have injury get it looked at by someone who can help. Don’t just work through the pain as you will only make your injury worse in the long run and risk making it become chronic and potentially being unable to dance for longer periods of time. If you teach dance, look after your students, advise them to seek medical advice and whether they are injured or not always get them actively involved in class.

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