One of the biggest fears you can have as a dancer is getting a severe injury. Between 32% - 51% of ballet dancers suffer from an injury each year. I do not mean to scare anybody, I mention this so every dancer is aware of the risks you are putting on your body and so you can be properly prepared! Dance is a sport that is highly physical and very strenuous. As a dancer, you are training your body to do things it was not originally capable of doing.
So, in this post I would like to talk about a few different injury prevention tools you can use as dancer, how to stay positive and healthy if you get an injury, and just a few other tips and tricks that I have up my sleeve!
There is a wide selection of injury possibilities as a dancer. A lot of this has to do with the frequent usage of muscles and the amount of training a dancer is involved in. This leads me to my first injury prevention tip!
1. Know your limits!
It is critical as a dancer to know where exactly your limits are. This is also helpful for your teacher so your teacher is aware of what is going on with you physically and knows how to push you best. In dance it is necessary to push yourself physically, but if you end up pushing yourself too hard it can be critical for your body. If your body needs a break, give it the break it needs! Dancing on an injury can be very dangerous on your muscles and tendons. If your body needs a rest it is always important to listen to what your body needs. Prepare your body for exercise and do your best to cool down afterward. Stay hydrated so your muscles have enough oxygen and support, always stretch before hand, and never feel bad about resting. Physical stress on your body can lead to emotional stress which can lead to fatigue for a dancer. It is ok to rest from time to time, just know what your limits are to make sure you are not pushing your body further than is necessary.
2. Stretch both sides of your body!
Almost every dancer has one side of their body that is more flexible, whether it be the right or the left side. It is very common to want to only stretch the side of your body that is more flexible. However; this can lead to your body being lopsided which can cause issues with your spine, your alignment, and your technique as a dancer. It is always important to remember to stretch both sides of your body before and even after you have danced.
What to do if you get an injury
Getting an injury as a dancer can be very scary, especially depending on the severity of your injury. When I was a senior in High school I broke my back. Now, doctors will tell you a lot of different things at first. One doctor told me I should never dance again and that my dance career was at an end, another doctor said I would be back in 5 months. But, what really happened was I was back in 3 months dancing almost normally. There were still quite a few things I could not do or that left me very sore. But, I was dancing almost to the full completion of how I had originally before my injury. My advice would be if you get an injury:
1. Listen to your physical therapist.
Your doctor will know the extent of your injury and he/she is going to treat your injury. Your physical therapist is the one who will be working with you continuously, knows your physical limits, knows what you are capable of, and knows what your body can handle. Trust your physical therapist, do the exercises that are given, and keep communication open with your PT. He/she will tell you when you will be back on the dance floor! Patience!
2. Stay Creative.
When I first found out I broke my back and was not going to be dancing for awhile I thought my life was over. But, the extra free time you get can be pretty eye opening. I discovered a lot of different things that I enjoy doing or like to do that I had not done in years because I just simply did not have the time. I started getting into photography, painting, writing, sketching, etc. Anything to help with my creative itch, along the way I discovered other things that I am good at as well. So, the extra time you have on your hands can actually be a blessing in disguise. I encourage you to stay creative. Find other things you enjoy doing that make you happy and that help with the creative itch you have!
At the end of the day if you remember to take care of your body, get plenty of rest, and have fun than you are going to be just fine!
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”