Important tips for preventing dance injuries

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VITAL: Warming up before and cooling down after a dance class are important for increasing heart rate and core body temperature, which will reduce the risk of injury. Stretching widens the movement of joints.

VITAL: Warming up before and cooling down after a dance class are important for increasing heart rate and core body temperature, which will reduce the risk of injury. Stretching widens the movement of joints.

Dancing has many benefits, but like any physical activity it is not without risks. Injuries, major and minor, are possible, but the key to preventing these lies in knowing your limits and preparation.

Junior dance teacher Stephanie Perry has been teaching hip-hop, jazz, cheer-leading and tumbling for four years and has been dancing for eight.

“Ankle sprains and twists are always happening,” she said. “An acute injury can spoil a training session, and ankle injuries are common through most styles of dance, but often occur during advanced tap dancing or high energy, high impact styles such as jazz and hiphop.

“Knee injuries are more common throughout modern and contemporary, because those styles usually include more floor work. Ligament knee injuries often happen due to flexibility, so most styles involve this risk.

“Stress fractures are also common in some impacted bones like toes, and the tibia is a common spot and the spine, though not as often.”

Miss Perry stressed self-awareness and groundwork were key to minimising risk of injuries. “Dancers need to keep up with their body, know their personal limitations and be aware of their body alignment,” she said. “All these things should be taught throughout a dance class.”

Warming up before and cooling down after a session are vital. It is also helpful to keep up your fitness by attending a dance class each week, and if limited in how many classes you can attend, try to keep up your fitness in other ways.

“Never push too far,” Miss Perry warned. “All dancing and and fitness in general should be gradually increased. Joining a beginner class is great for newbies. Stretching widens the movement of joints and all stretches held will increase flexibility and avoid soreness in the leading days.”

It’s also important to build strength. “Core is a huge muscle group used in dance frequently, along with quads and calves,” Ms Perry said. “Staying hydrated and eating properly can avoid dehydration and keep you healthy to participate in dance.”

But what should you do if you sustain an injury? Seek professional treatment straight away. 

“Keeping up strength is key if it’s a smaller injury such as an ankle sprain and just gradually progressing.”