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Dance is an artistic, athletic, expressive, and
social form of physical activity that appeals to a wide variety of individuals.
The physical aspects of dance can be both a valuable source of exercise as well
as a cause of injury. For young people who take dance classes, have formal
training in dance, or perform as dancers, they typically do so in one of the
following dance disciplines: ballet, jazz, modern, tap, hip hop, Irish, or
There are many forms of dance that have unique
physical demands and specific injury risks. There are also some physical demands
that are common to a wide variety of dance forms. For example, many types of
dance involve jumping, turning, toe pointing, back arching, and lifting. These
activities can produce tendinosis, stress fractures, ankle sprains, ankle
impingement, or low back pain.
The following is information from the American
Academy of Pediatrics about common ballet and dance injuries and their symptoms.
Also included are 3 common questions from dancers.
Q: When can I begin pointe work?
pointe refers to performing dance steps on the tips of the
toes. This technique is used only by female dancers. Trying pointe work
too soon can lead to risk of sprains, fractures, and growth plate
injuries. Most experts believe that a dancer is ready to try pointe work
when the following criteria are met:
Age range 9 to 15 years; 12
is average (assuming other criteria below are met)
Three or more years of
classical ballet training; 2 or more classes per week of
preprofessional training (Instructors who have trained
professional dancers can usually determine when a dancer has
the necessary experience, technical skill, and strength to
go en pointe.)
Adequate strength in arch,
ankle, leg, hips, trunk muscles
Adequate balance and
Adequate supervision and
training, including carefully graded skill progressions and
Q: Can I improve my turnout?
refers to the ability to externally rotate the hip. Not all dancers can
achieve optimal turnout because they may be limited by their bony
anatomy. For example, the depth and angle of a dancer's hip
socket may affect how far he or she can rotate his or her hip. However,
most dancers can improve their turnout with appropriate exercises. For
example, turnout can be improved by stretching the hip joint and the
muscles on the inner side of the hip joint.
Optimal turnout allows dancers to stand
with their feet pointing opposite directions while their knees are
positioned directly over the feet. If turnout is not done correctly,
dancers are either unable to hold this position or they
"cheat" by twisting their knees or forcing their lower
legs to the outside. When the hip, knee, and foot are not in alignment,
leg and low-back injuries can occur.
Q: How can I safely lose weight?
A: Dancers of all ages face
tremendous pressure to be thin. The pressure may be based on aesthetic
or performance requirements. At times, targeted weight goals may be
unhealthy. Not getting enough calories and nutrients can contribute to
less energy, impaired brain functioning (like poor concentration), and
increased risk of illness and injury. When unsafe weight loss practices
are used to reach a desired appearance, health risks can include serious
illness, hospitalization, and even death.
Dancers who want to lose weight should
use a medically supervised strategy. This includes working with a
medical professional to determine how much weight loss is safe, how
quickly the weight can be lost, and how nutritional and energy
requirements will be met. It may also be helpful to work with a
registered dietitian. It is essential to have regular medical monitoring
to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the weight loss program.
For answers to additional questions about injuries, injury prevention,
and safe training practices, talk with your doctor or a physical
Ballet and dance injuries can be prevented with
proper supervision and compliance with the rules and safety guidelines in place
for ballet and dance.
The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.
If you think that you are having a medical emergency,
call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!
And when in doubt, call your doctor NOW
or go to the closest emergency department.
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