As a dancer who has had multiple knee surgeries after 30+ years of training, this is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I have spoken with physical therapists in the past about whether I would have tried some of these techniques to reduce my chance of injury, but thinking back to my 16-year-old self, I don’t know that I would have. And as my problems stemmed from a combination of nature and nurture — genetically misaligned knees that couldn’t handle the years of dance training with a turnout — there’s a part of me that doubts any additional exercises could have averted the surgical procedures.
But there are many other dancers that could avert serious injury by listening to their bodies and strengthening the muscles that oppose those used in dance. For more, read on for the advice from our physical therapist and trainers who work with dancers.
Injury prevention for dancers
Most dancers know that one of the challenges of the performing arts is to make it look easy, effortless – and painless. According to Elisabeth Wheeler, a physical therapist who works with dancers at Allegheny Chesapeake Physical Therapy in Pennsylvania, up to 90% of dancers will have an injury at some point during their training. So whether you are a professional dancer in a company, or one who takes classes for physical (and mental) activity, it is important to pay attention to your body in order to avoid injury.
Elisabeth notes that dancers can have a variety of injuries throughout the body: