Sep 27 , 2021
Tags - Contemporary Dance Injuries
Contemporary dance was developed during the 20th Century and involves movements from other genres like jazz, modern and ballet.
As opposed to traditional forms of dance, contemporary is seen to be unbound by rules, and dancers are able to transform a performance based on their own interpretation.
Usually, there is a strong focus on ballet-influenced leg movements, floor work, floor and recovery, and more often than not, contemporary dance is performed barefoot to allow more fluidity in movement.
Above all, contemporary dance is about improvisation; the dance relies on feelings and emotions that stray away from traditional methods of storytelling.
So as a contemporary dancer, your risk of injury will depend on the different techniques that make up your choreography.
Dance requires incredible strength and flexibility, especially if you’re performing several shows a week.
Not to mention the countless hours in rehearsals, where exertion levels can exceed that of professional athletes, so it’s not uncommon for dancers to experience some kind of pain.
Think about it, performing repetitive movements for hours a day with little recovery time will inevitably increase a dancer’s risk for overuse injuries, with the majority involving the feet, ankles, legs and lower back.
Let’s take a closer look at 3 common injuries in contemporary dance.
Ankle sprains are a very common injury in dancers.
And this injury is caused by any dance movement that forces the ankle outside of its normal range of motion, which results in it overstretching or causes the ligaments to tear.
For example, not landing properly after a jump, misaligned ankles or wearing poorly-fitted shoes can result in an ankle sprain.
If you’ve sprained your ankle, you’ll know. There will be immediate pain, the ankle will swell up quickly and you may not be able to put any weight onto it, making it difficult to walk.
Once you’ve sprained your ankle, you’re at greater risk of it happening again so it’s important to build up muscle strength to prevent further injuries.
As such, ensure you get enough rest and avoid overtraining, and always warm up properly before any performance.
2. Achilles Tendonitis
This is when the tendon at the back of the ankle, which connects the main mover for pointing to your foot, becomes inflamed.
During dance, the achilles is active and overuse from excessive pointing makes this injury very common in contemporary dance, particularly if certain dance techniques are not performed properly.
Symptoms are usually gradual pain and tenderness above the heel, which doesn’t feel bad when warmed up, but feels super painful when jumping or performing pointe work, and swelling which gets worse during activity.
The best form of prevention is to stretch the achilles properly, with quads, hip and core strengthening to decrease the force absorption by the ankle.
3. Trigger Toe
Trigger toe is an overuse injury which causes inflammation and damage to the muscle that’s active when pointing the big toe.
At first, symptoms are fairly mild but as time goes on, it may become extremely difficult or almost impossible to dance en pointe.
Sometimes, the toe can even lock up and the dancer may need to use their hands to manipulate the toe until it can be moved. The dancer may also experience a clicking feeling when trying to move the toe and feel as though it’s caught.
Consequently, if the trigger toe is not treated or diagnosed properly, it can end a dancer’s career. As such, if you feel any symptoms, like a sharp pain in your toe, see a doctor as soon as possible as early diagnosis will improve recovery chances.
Unfortunately, trigger toe is one of the many dangers of dancing and there is very little that can be done to prevent it. However, you can minimise your risk by warming up before and cooling down after properly with each rehearsal and performance.
In most cases, the pain you feel after dancing is generally muscle soreness which usually passes within a couple of days, or other times it takes a few days for the soreness to appear - this is normal.
But, if you experience any of the different pains mentioned above, you may have suffered an injury so it’s important to consult with a medical professional so they can determine the best treatment for you to get back on stage as quickly as possible.
Please get in touch to find out more.
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