Injuries in dancers commonly occur due to overuse of already tired muscles, incorrect technique or weak muscles. As amateur dancers, many don't consider the precautions and steps to proper rehab that need to be undertaken post-injury.
One of the most common complaints of a young dancer is pain in the anterior hip with a snapping like sound occurring when in high extensions and battements to the side, front or back. This is caused by the ITB gliding over the greater trochanter (boney prominence on side of leg) during battement or developpe. It is also caused by weakness in the muscles that run on the outside of the hip as they are not acting as strong stabilisers. To help prevent or manage this condition, we recommend:
- Dancers should work on strengthening the muscles in and around the hip joint i.e adductors, hip flexors, abdominals and obliques.
- As well as strengthening the weak muscles, it is also recommended to have the short and tight muscles stretched out and released with massage.
- Dancers need to ensure that they turnout from the hip rather than just the knees or ankles as this can cause further issues in the lower limb if done incorrectly for long periods of time.
The other common injury complaint is a sharp pain in the back of the ankle when in maximum plantar flexion. Dancers may also experience pain at rest or after activities that would provoke the injury i.e pointe work, jumps, incorrect technique. This pain can be caused by inadequate rehab following an acute ankle injury or incorrect technique in plantar flexion (crunching at the back of the ankle rather than a reaching movement). Some advice for preventing or reducing symptoms of an injury like this:
- Initially release through the muscles of the back of the leg, i.e calves and hamstrings, using a foam roller or by getting a massage.
- After lengthening out these muscles, it is ideal to start straightening them using exercises such as a reach and press of the ankle with a soft ball and doming of the foot which begins to encourage correct use of the muscles.
- It is also recommended that dancers continue to work on strengthening their calves by doing slow controlled calf raises with correct technique insuring there is no pain.
If you are experiencing any of these conditions, come and see us at the clinic for an injury assessment and treatment plan so that we can keep you dancing at your peak potential. Not only can Soft Tissue Therapy assist in the prevention of an injury, it will also assist in the unfortunate situation of a current or recurring injury as part of a rehabilitation plan.
Written by Teaghan Spiers, Myotherapist & Dance Teacher