Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dealing with Injury

Let's face it: you're a dancer. You will get hurt. It's only a question of time and intensity. Will you get hurt when you've got time to take time off and rest (unlikely)? Or will you tear a muscle/sustain a stress fracture the day before opening night (more likely)? Will it be a muscle pull? Will you dislocate a bone (hello! talk to me.)? Will you tear your Achilles tendon? They're all legitimate questions.

Why do I bring this up now? The dance department in my school has its fifth (my third) audition in two weeks tomorrow, and already I'm seeing people getting hurt. Today, in dance studies, we talked about injuries. Let's just say it's on my mind.

Anyhow, there are some major principles in dealing with an injury:
  1. Don't be "tough." If you think you can stick it out and dance on it, you're wrong and you're being silly. Sure, dance on it, but don't say I didn't warn you when that injury gets worse.
  2. RICE - rest, ice, compress, elevate. My teacher told us 20 minutes of ice on, 20 minutes off alternating. Never ice for more than 30 minutes at a time. If you have a sprain that's inflamed, compress it to reduce swelling. Again, if it's swelling, elevate it. That way, blood won't rush down into it and cause more inflammation.
  3. See a doctor, or at the very least talk to your teacher. Don't try to hide the injury. And once you get professional advice about what to do, follow the advice. Don't see a doctor and refuse to rest when he tells you to - you're just wasting your money and threatening your body even farther.
  4. Be careful in the last few hours of rehearsal. Most dance injuries happen when dancers are getting tired and sloppy. Know your limits, recognize when you're getting tired. If you just rolled your ankle while landing, don't do that leap again, or modify your technique.
  5. If you have an injury that immobilizes you (you can't dance or walk...hopefully you're not bedridden!), make sure you keep up your conditioning. You don't want the rest of your body to get limp and lazy. See a physical therapist for some exercises you can do to help the injured spot and work out the rest of your body.

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