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Three Most Common Dance Injuries and How to Prevent Them

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Three Most Common Dance Injuries and How to Prevent Them

Dec 20, 2017

Like any sport, dance takes serious strength, stamina, and flexibility. As a dancer, it’s important to keep safe from a potentially career-ending injury. Trina Bellendir, a physical therapist at the Dance Clinic at University of Utah Orthopedic Center, talks about three of the most common injuries that can occur in dancers and how best to prevent them.

Episode Transcript

Interviewer: Three common dance injuries and how to avoid them. That's next on The Scope.

Announcer: Health tips, medical news, research and more for a happier, healthier life. From University of Utah Health Sciences, this is The Scope.

Interviewer: Trina Bellendir is a physical therapist in the Dance Clinic at University of Utah Orthopedic Center. And today we're going to learn about three common dance injuries and how to avoid them. So let's start with number one.

Trina: So that would be an ankle injury. That's sprain, strains, twists, turns of the ankle. Most of those from the ankle being dropped or pronated. People should work on lifting their arches up. They'll hear the terms short arch, arch ups or a suction cup, using the tripod of your ball of your foot on the first and fifth toes and your heel as your tripod and suctioning that down onto the floor.

Interviewer: And is that a good exercise just to do, just to keep those strong to prevent injuries?

Trina: It is. You should do a lot of toe exercises just in general. Toe and foot, that's one thing that we don't typically go to the gym and work out, our toes. We just put our shoes on and away we go, but over time your arches tend to drop and the ligaments stretch.

Interviewer: Gotcha. And doing those kind of exercises is not as fun as dancing.

Trina: Of course not.

Interviewer: But you'd recommend that people work that into their routine daily?

Trina: At least once a day they should be doing, watching where their arch is on a daily basis, whether they're a dancer or any other athlete or person that walks.

Interviewer: Gotcha. Common dance injury number two and how to avoid it?

Trina: Probably, the second most common one is a knee injury, not typically having a lot of ligament tears, but they do get a lot of pain around their knees from their knees falling in. This also can be caused because of the arch dropping, but also because of weak hip external rotators and abductors. So if you work on strengthening your abductors of your hip, most of the time your knee pain will go away.

Interviewer: Yeah. And then isn't that interesting how it originates up in the hip and you notice it in the knee?

Trina: The knee is just the symptom guy, but he typically is not the cause.

Interviewer: Gotcha. So do those daily hip exercises as well, your probably gluteus medius, I would imagine?

Trina: Good job.

Interviewer: Yeah. I don't know if minimus plays into that as much.

Trina: Glut minimus, glut medius both play into that, yes.

Interviewer: Gotcha. All right. Dance injury number three and how to avoid it?

Trina: Next one is the low back. People tend to have a lot of low back pain. Dance choreography is typically one sided towards one direction, usually the strong side. So just making sure that whatever you do going one direction you do going the other direction as well. And also really stretching your hip flexor out. That doesn't mean you get a bigger curve in your back, stretching that ileus soleus muscle.

Interviewer: So if you're a little bit older and a dancer, you probably have this type of discipline built into your routine, but if you're the parent of a younger dancer, it might be hard to impart upon them how important these exercises are for the longevity in their sport. How do you help convince somebody that might not be convinced?

Trina: It depends on if you're talking about an older dancer or younger dancer.

Interviewer: Yeah. Let's go with the younger dancer.

Trina: Okay. The younger dancer, I just tell them that I see these people over and over again, I would work with professional dancers, I work with the University dancers, and the best way to continue a long dance career is not to get injured at a young age.

Interviewer: And the best way to avoid doing that is being aware of these things as they arise and then strengthening the appropriate muscles to prevent it, yeah.

Trina: Yeah. Dance is expensive, so for the parents, if the person wants to dance, then they need to do their exercise.

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