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Dance Medicine

What is Dance Medicine?

Dance Medicine is a branch of Sports Medicine that focuses on the health and well-being of dancers. Dancers are different from other athletes in the types of injuries incurred, their evaluation, and treatment. Dance medicine aims to prevent, diagnose, treat, and rehabilitate dance-related injuries and illnesses, as well as to enhance the performance and quality of life of dancers.

What does Dance Medicine involve?

Dance Medicine is a multidisciplinary field that draws from various areas of knowledge and practice, such as anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, kinesiology, psychology, nutrition, rehabilitation, physical therapy, athletic training, sports medicine, surgery, neuroscience, motor control, dance education, and dance for health. 

What are some of the common Dance Injuries of the Foot & Ankle?

Some common dance injuries of the foot and ankle are:

  • Lateral Ankle Sprains: This is when the ligaments on the outside of the ankle are stretched or torn due to a sudden twisting or rolling of the foot. This can cause pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty walking or dancing. Lateral ankle sprains are often caused by landing on an uneven surface, stepping on another dancer's foot, or wearing improper footwear.
  • Achilles Tendonitis: This is when the tendon that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone becomes inflamed and irritated due to overuse or excessive stress. This can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling at the back of the ankle or lower leg. Achilles tendonitis is often caused by repetitive jumping, landing, or pointing the foot, or by changing the intensity or duration of the dance activity.
  • Metatarsal Stress Fractures: This is when small cracks develop in the bones of the forefoot due to repeated impact or pressure. This can cause pain, swelling, and tenderness at the top or bottom of the foot. Metatarsal stress fractures are often caused by dancing on hard surfaces, wearing unsupportive shoes, or increasing the frequency or intensity of the dance activity.
  • Tibialis Posterior Strain/Tears: This injury is when the muscle and tendon that run along the inside of the lower leg and support the arch of the foot becomes strained or torn due to overuse or trauma. This can cause pain, swelling, and flattening of the arch of the foot. Tibialis posterior strain/tears are often caused by excessive pronation (rolling in) of the foot, dancing on uneven surfaces, or performing complex foot movements
  • Posterior Ankle Impingement: This is when the soft tissues at the back of the ankle become compressed or pinched between the heel bone and the shin bone due to excessive plantar flexion (pointing) of the foot. This can cause pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion at the back of the ankle. Posterior ankle impingement is often caused by dancing on pointe, performing deep pliĆ©s, or wearing tight shoes.
  • Bunions: This is when the joint at the base of the big toe becomes enlarged and misaligned due to pressure or friction. This can cause pain, inflammation, and deformity of the big toe. Bunions are often caused by wearing narrow or ill-fitting shoes, having a genetic predisposition, or having flat feet or arthritis.
  • Ingrown Toenails: This is when the edge of the toenail grows into the skin of the toe, causing pain, redness, and infection. Ingrown toenails are often caused by cutting the toenails too short or too curved, wearing tight or narrow shoes, or injuring the toe.

What are the Benefits of Dance Medicine?

Dance Medicine can benefit dancers in many ways, such as :

  • Reducing the risk and severity of dance-related injuries and illnesses, such as sprains, strains, fractures, tendinitis, bursitis, stress fractures, and muscle fatigue.
  • Ensuring accurate diagnosis and treatment outcomes of dance-related injuries and illnesses, using evidence-based and dance-specific methods and techniques, such as imaging, functional tests, manual therapy, and exercise prescription.
  • Enhancing the recovery and rehabilitation of dance-related injuries and illnesses, using individualized and goal-oriented programs and interventions, such as strengthening, stretching, balance, coordination, and proprioception.
  • Optimizing the performance and quality of life of dancers, using holistic and comprehensive approaches that address the physical, mental, emotional, and social aspects of dance, such as conditioning, nutrition, hydration, sleep, stress management, coping skills, motivation, and confidence.