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Dance injuries - treatment and prevention

Updated: Feb 21, 2019

A survery in 2017 on dance injuries in Singapore showed that the majority (76.5%) of dance injuries were due to overuse, with the foot and ankle (54.8%), knee (48.9%) and back (38.1%)  being the areas most commonly injured. This can be mitigated by implementing physical training, which has shown to reduce injury incidence, improved upper and lower body strength and endurance, aerobic fitness and aesthetic competence, as well as decreasing psychological stress more so than solely focusing on technical dance training. 

Some contributors to dance injuries are:

  • Lack of warm-up exercise routine

  • Disregarded overuse/fatigue

  • Poor technique eg. "sickling/winging" (forefoot/hindfoot varus/valgus in demi-pointe or en pointe), "Rolling in" (foot hyperpronation)

  • Hallus rigidus/valgus (stiff big toe/ bunion)

  • Pev cavus/planus (high arch/flat foot)

  • Poor core strength

  • Weak eccentric lower limb muscle strength

  • Pelvic muscle imbalance or inflexibility

  • Tight Achilles' tendon

  • Hypermobility syndrome

Acute injuries - Sprains (eg. ankle sprain) or Strains (muscle pull/ tear)

After a sprain or strain injury, the cells become damage and the body releases chemicals that creates an inflammatory response. This is the body's natural way of healing to promote new cell growth. During the inflammatory phase, swelling, redness, warmth, pain and/or a loss of function can be expected. 

Short term managment of acute injuries (PRICED and avoiding HARM)

  • PROTECTION: Remove additional danger or risk from injured area.

  • REST: Stop dancing and stop moving the injured area.

  • ICE: Apply ice to the injured area for 20 minutes every two hours.

  • COMPRESSION: Apply an elastic compression bandage to the injured area.

  • ELEVATION: Raise the injured area above the heart.

  • DIAGNOSIS: Acute injuries should be evaluated by a health-care professional.

Avoid HARM in the first few days after an injury

  • HEAT: Any kind of heat will speed up the circulation, resulting in more swelling and a longer recovery.

  • ALCOHOL: Alcohol can increase swelling, causing a longer recovery.

  • RUNNING OR OTHER EXCESSIVE EXERCISE: Exercising too early can cause further damage to the injured part. Exercise also increases the blood-flow, resulting in more swelling.

  • MASSAGE: Massage increases swelling and bleeding into the tissue, prolonging recovery time.

Long-term management of injuries/Prevention of Injuries

1. Physical Training

6-12 weeks of physical training has been found to improve muscle strength and endurance, and reduction in injury rates. 

Physical training should be focused on improving the following:

  • Core stability and strength

  • Upper body strength and endurance (especially for male dancers)

  • Lower body strength and endurance

  • Balance and proprioception

  • Aerobic fitness

  • Flexibility and mobility

2. Proper nutrition and rest (reduction of fatigue)

3. Provision of specialized health care services for risk assessment, injury management and injury reduction


  • Chia, J. (2017). Survey Study on the Injury Patterns, Dance Practices and Health Seeking Behaviour amongst Dancers in Singapore. Annals Academy of Medicine, 46(2).

  • Russell, J. (2013). Preventing dance injuries: current perspectives. Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine, p.199.

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