Nov 10 , 2021
Tags - Jazz Dance Injuries
Dance is constantly evolving and is an art form with hundreds of different styles all over the world.
One style I’m sure we’re all familiar with, is Jazz. Full of energy, lycra and sequins, jazz dance is no longer just a few fan kicks and shimmies.
Today, this dance form incorporates many different dance styles, but its roots originate from African American dance from the 1950s.
A great jazz dancer needs fire in their belly to dance with power, confidence and hold a great technique.
And whilst to the audience, their dance may look effortless, it requires a lot of strength, flexibility and stamina.
Unfortunately, accidents happen. And even jazz dancers who have been training for years will experience an injury once in a while.
With that said, here are 4 common jazz dance injuries and how to prevent them.
Spasms are involuntary contractions that occur when a muscle has been overworked.
In terms of symptoms, a spasm will appear as a decrease in the width of the mobility of the surrounding joints, as well as pain when touching the muscle.
When a spasm happens, it’s important to rest the muscle as soon as possible as it can be a potential muscle tear.
In addition, you should apply deep heat and book in for a professional massage.
For the pain, you may take anti-inflammatory medication; spasms cause contractions that are painful, and the pain causes more contractions, so painkillers help to relax the muscles and break out of this circle.
2. Muscle Tears
A muscle or ligament tear refers to the damage to a muscle or its attaching tendons.
Typically, this occurs from direct trauma or overuse of certain muscles, so it’s not surprising why this injury is common in jazz dancers.
Muscle tear symptoms vary and will depend on how severe the injury is, but usually includes pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising and loss of movement.
Usually, symptoms will ease in a few days; the longer the symptoms last, the worse the injury is.
For treatment, you’ll be advised to avoid repetition of the movement that caused the damage and to apply a cold ice pack after a dance session.
However, you should allow the muscle to completely heal before restarting any physical activity, which can sometimes be up to 5 weeks.
3. Ankle Sprains
Ankle sprains are a very common injury in jazz dancers.
And is caused by any movement that pushes the ankle outside of it’s normal range of motion, which results in the ligaments overstretching or tearing.
So when a dancer performs jumps or a combination of movements and lands incorrectly, it’s likely they’ll sprain their ankle.
When a dancer sprains their ankle, they’ll know about it; there will usually be immediate pain and swelling.
Many sprains heal themselves with enough rest, but others may require lengthy treatment.
Typically, physiotherapists will suggest RICE treatment; rest, ice, compression and elevate and will advise to fully heal before returning back to normal activity; not returning to pre-injury level can result in re-injury in the future.
4. Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis happens when the tendon at the back of the ankle, that connects the main mover for pointing your foot, becomes inflamed.
To put it simply, as dancers perform a lot of foot movement, the achilles becomes activated, and when overused, it’s bound to become inflamed - but more so through improper technique or excessive training.
And when this happens, you’ll experience gradual pain and tenderness above the heel, which may feel like it’s OK when you’re warming up, but become worse with jumping or point work.
To prevent this from happening, you should warm up properly by stretching your achilles and pay close attention to your technique; ensure your heels are pressed to the floor when you land from a jump.
Moreover, you should apply ice directly on the achilles for up to 5 minutes post-dancing.
Preventing Dance Injuries
Positively, a lot of overuse injuries and minor traumatic dance injuries can be prevented.
So what can you do to lower your risk of injury?
Well, firstly you’ll need to eat a healthy, balanced diet, and stay well hydrated both during training and after a performance; as obvious as it sounds, you cannot forget about the fuel your body needs.
Secondly, you need to ensure you are getting enough rest between dance sessions and do not push too hard; we all need a break!
In fact, it has been found that dancing for longer than 5 hours a day is linked to an increased risk of injury, so it makes sense to have a rest day. And, if you’re on tour, a 3 to 4 week rest period after the season is appropriate.
Lastly, jazz dancers should perform cross-training exercises to help build strength and endurance in every part of the body.
For instance, core strengthening exercises like pilates and yoga are perfect for dancers, as well as aerobic exercises to get the heart rate up which will help build stamina.
As active as dancers are, many don’t get enough cardio in alongside their regular training. As such, 30 minutes 3 times a week will be enough to build endurance and avoid adding too much stress on your joints during a performance.
Generally speaking, overuse injuries are the most common in dancers due to the repetitive movements that involve the feet, ankles, legs and lower back.
So, if your body is feeling a little sore after dancing, this should usually subside within 48 hours, sometimes a little longer, but this is completely normal.
However, if you are in severe pain that wakes you up at night, is present whilst you’re dancing or forces you to shift your weight differently when performing certain moves, it may be a sign you have suffered an injury.
In this case, you should consult with a medical professional as soon as possible to determine the best treatment for you, so you can carry on performing the thing you love most - dance!
Please contact us today to find out more.
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