common injuries of ballet
Standing in a perfectly straight row with perfect positions were 4 dancers. They were all perfectly matched. All of them were standing up tall with their legs straight. They were small but very pretty. The music starts with a light, flowing rhythm. One by one they slip into the music, dancing, twirling, and bending. It seems like they are the music and the music is them. Waltzing and turning, twisting and flowing, they are dancing. Slowly, the music transitions into the end. The dancers stop into a position and they receive a great round of applause. This is truly ballet.
The most common injuries in ballet are sprains and strains. The ankle sprain is the most common acute injury in dance and once you have injured your ankle you are more likely to injure it again. If you are tired or have not warmed up properly this can make an injury more likely to happen. Treatment for this is the RICE protocol, rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Depending on how bad the injury is physical therapy may be ordered. Occasionally, if the sprain is severe and it doesn’t improve after time and physical therapy then you may need surgery.
The knee is also a joint that has a lot of stress on it. All the ligaments in the knee are at risk for tears and sprains. If the tear is bad then surgery will be required if not then the RICE protocol is used. Patellar subluxation or dislocation is when the kneecap is unstable and does not slide in its groove or track. The doctor may order an x-ray to make sure it’s not dislocated, physical therapy for muscle strengthening exercises and taping or bracing is helpful.
Tendonitis – RICE protocol and return to dancing when there is no pain.
Osgood Schlatter's disease - inflammation in knee caused by strain on the patella tendon. The most important thing to do is rest. Icing the knee helps the inflammation. The doctor may order an X ray to see if there is any other damage. If the pain is severe and doesn’t go away a plaster cast may be put on for three weeks. Gradually exercises will be done to increase movement.
Muscle strains although not usually serious are painful. The hamstring or is a frequent site of injury. This muscle covers two joints (the knee and hip), and because of its large blood supply, inflammation and scar tissue will occur if there is a bad tear. Dancers use the hamstring all the time in ballet so injuries are not rare. It is thought that a tight muscle is the main reason this is injured. As there is an imbalance during growth spurts of bone, muscle and tendon lengths, they lose some flexibility and are more likely to overcompensate by working harder. Again rest until there is no pain and gradually start a stretching and strengthening exercise program. You should never dance if you are in pain.
There are many types of hip injuries in ballet such as snapping hip, bursitis, tendonitis, stress fracture of the femoral neck and labral tear. Some may be due to the structure of the bones such as shallow hip pockets and some are just overuse injuries. Most of these injuries will improve with rest and if needed physical therapy. Most injuries of this type will repond to the RICE protocol. Stress fractures should heal but if not then they may result in a complete fracture and require surgery. If treated properly these injuries should completely heal but if you continue to work these joints then you ay develop arthritis when you are older.
At last we are back to the back injuries. There are many different types and are very common in dancers. Herniated lumbar disk, lower back muscle strain and spasm are common ones with common names. Some have very interesting names like kissing spines (the spinous processes touch), Schuermann's disease (a deformity in the vertebrae), spondylosis (spinal osteoarthritis), spondylolithesis (slipping forward of the vertebra on to the next one). Most are caused by the nature of dance when the spine is moved quickly in many different directions. The back has hyper-flexibility and mobility and can lock. The dancer gets an aching pain over a joint and that limits movement. Often it is hard to know what the cause of back pain is but muscle strain is common. Sometimes the muscle will go into spasm to protect the joint. Physical therapy and the use alternating heat and cold packs may help. Exercises for deep abdominal muscles stabilize the back and pelvic girdle and help core stability. Rest until the pain is gone and do not take NSAIDS if they mask the pain and encourage you to train before you are ready.
- Warm up, cold muscles are more prone to injury
- Core strengthening exercises.
- Stop if it hurts. Listen to your body.
- Learn how to perform techniques properly