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  • Donna Simmonds

The Importance of Stretching



Dance, like any physical sport, comes with its own catalogue of common injuries. Unlike other sports however, dance has very wide parameters when it comes to what movements the body does regularly. For instance, a footballer generally deals with injuries associated to running and impact injuries from tackles. Dancers on the flip side, deal with injuries that constantly change. All body parts from the neck to the toes are stretched and utilised in the art of dance, meaning that injuries can include almost anything!

At Betty Bentley Dance Academy we work to ensure that all our dancers are performing and practicing in a safe manner at all times. If you have any issues that you fear will become an injury, or any injuries that will prevent you from dancing safely, we ask that you inform your teacher before class.

There are many factors that influence why and when an injury takes place. For dancers, the most common reasons for injuries include:

  • Frequency and duration of training

  • Environmental conditions such as dancing in the cold before the muscles are warmed up

  • Dancing on floors that are not adequate for dancing such as jetes on concrete surfaces

  • Shoes that are not fitted correctly

  • Prior injuries that come back due to lack of rest or lack of rehabilitation

  • Poor alignment

  • Internal deficiencies such as nutrition

Now let’s look at how the above can be prevented or counteracted to decrease the chance of injury:

Frequency and duration of training

Dancing often is not a problem, however if you have an injury that requires attention and you continue to dance without treatment, that is when frequency and duration become problematic.

Schedule an appointment with your healthcare professional and get any injuries sorted before knuckling down into an intense training schedule.

Environmental conditions such as dancing in the cold before the muscles are warmed up

This is a big one and most pulled/torn muscles occur due to lack of proper warm up. Allow yourself extra time to get to competitions or class if the weather is cold and never go 100% if your body does not feel safely warmed up.

If your teacher needs the routine full out, give yourself extra time to stretch before this moment, so you don’t feel the need to push the boundaries. Remember, 10 minutes of extra stretching or light movement could prevent six months of rehabilitation.

Dancing on floors that are not adequate for dancing such as jetes on concrete surfaces

This occurs mostly at competitions or performances where the area is not built for dancing (sprung or floating floors) OR you are preparing for the performance by running through the routine outside. Hard surfaces with no give can result in ankle, knee and bone problems among many others. So, if you need to run through the dance in an area you feel is not adequate, avoid jumping. This should protect your joints from potential injuries.

Shoes that are not fitted correctly

The team at your local dance store are generally trained to fit and assist when it comes to dancewear. Make sure you utilise their skills when going to buy new shoes and equipment. Use their expertise and find the perfect ones for your size and shape, your body will thank you for it in the long run.

Prior injuries that come back due to lack of rest or lack of rehabilitation

To be blunt - Do what your health professional says. Your health professional, whether they are a Physio, Chiro, Osteo or Doctor, has an extensive understanding of the human body, and although it’s always wise to listen to your own body, it’s in your best interests to listen to the professional. Time off can be frustrating, and rehab can be tiresome, but going back too early could result in further injury and an even longer second rehab.

Poor Alignment

Your dance teacher is a great source of information when it comes to alignment, but it’s always handy to understand it yourself to pick up on any malalignments you may notice in your own body.

Remember that when landing from a jump, knees should bend in the same line as the feet, but shouldn’t bend past the line of the toes. For more alignment tips, chat to your dance teacher!

Internal deficiencies such as nutrition

You only get out what you put in. Literally. Fuel your body with lots of healthy food. Stock up on veggies, complex carbs for energy and aim to drink 2L of water per day (that’s a great goal if you can monitor it!).

Last but definitely not least - always listen to your body. And remember, taking the time to warm up correctly could save you months of rehab due to an injury.

Of course, if you do experience pain, discomfort, or you just have a niggle that’s irritating you, don’t avoid it – book in with your Physio/Osteo/Chiro/Doctor to check it out and ensure it doesn’t get worse.

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Contact the team at Betty Bentley Dance Academy today to find out more and secure your spot at either our dance studio locations in Willetton or Port Kennedy, Western Australia

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