Dance Injuries And How to Prevent Them (According to Broadway’s PTs!)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, dance injuries are inevitable and rarely reflect a dancer’s technique, work ethic, or “injury prone-ness.”

Whether it’s a rolled ankle or a blown ACL, injuries happen and need to be honored– no matter how frustrating they may be. 

However, just because injuries happen frequently doesn’t mean you can’t prepare yourself and train your body to be as injury-resistant as possible. 

That’s why, for our final interview in our physical therapy for dancers series, we asked Mims Method PTs which injuries they see most often and how dancers can deal with them (or work to prevent them!)

So buckle up because we are discussing the most common dance injuries seen by Broadway’s PTs and how to prevent them!


The Hips

Dr. Dan Ginader of Mims Method mentioned that the dance injuries he sees most are related to the general overuse of the hips.

He says this is because dancers’ hips have a large range of motion but often lack strength in those extreme ranges of motion. 

To fix this we need to focus on the mobility of the hips. Because, while your hips are very flexible, you need to be able to control and support that flexibility with strength. 

Dan suggests that dancers “ Make sure that anywhere you can move the hip passively,  you also have the ability to control it actively with your muscles.”  

What are some ways to train the end range of motion in the hips? 

Weighted squats, hip CARS, banded clamshells, and banded side steps, are all a great start.

Add these to your workouts and you’re sure to see an improvement in your extensions and control!


The Ankles

Both Drs. Chris and Kate said the dance injuries they see most often have to do with the ankles. 

Dr. Kate Besong specifically singled out ankle impingement – both anterior and posterior. 

Anterior ankle impingement leads to a “pinched, stuck, or blocked” feeling in the front of the ankle. You’ll usually feel it during deep demi plié and take-offs and landings from jumps. 

Posterior ankle impingement leads to a similar feeling in the back of the ankle most often felt during rélévé. 

Kate says that, while both of these injuries can improve with rest, they will often flare back up when activity is increased again. Instead, working on joint alignment and the mechanics of movements can address the problem.

To prevent the problem Kate recommends keeping all sides of your lower legs strong and mobile. 

“Try focusing on the strength of your calf muscle (gastroc/soleus) with weighted rélévés as well as the strength of your shin muscle (tibialis anterior) with this exercise known as “butt scratchers.”

Dr. Chris Falciano says he sees a variety of ankle injuries including sprains, strains, and general instability. He said he usually comes across these as a result of jumps and turns. 

Chris is a huge proponent of cross-training for dancers as a means of injury prevention (no, we did not pay him to say that!). 

What’s good crosstraining for dancers?  Well, we’ve written a few things about that, but for now, maybe start here: Why Should Dancers Lift Weights? 



mindfulness for self-care, mental health support for injury recovery



Overuse vs. Fluke Dance Injuries

Dr. Brittney Mims, Founder of Mims Method Physical Therapy echos Dr. Chris’ encouragement for dancers to cross train. 

She says most dance injuries can be put into two categories: overuse injuries and fluke injuries. 

Fluke dance injuries (caught shoes, slips, or someone in the way when landing a jump etc.) can be hard to avoid. 

But Britt says that many overuse injuries can be prevented by a proper warm-up and – you guessed it!- cross-training. 


Injury Does Not Equal Failure

As Brittney mentioned, sometimes fluke dance injuries just happen. On top of that, no matter how much injury prevention work you do, sometimes overuse still catches up with you. 

The important thing to remember is, that injury is not a reflection on you as a dancer. It does not mean you didn’t ___ enough or if you had done ___ differently you wouldn’t be in this position. 

Also, despite what you might feel, sustaining an injury does not make you “injury prone.” So, take the time you need to care for your body and don’t stop caring for your body once you’ve recovered. 

Instead, keep doing that one exercise you really liked from PT by adding it into your warm-up or workouts. Take what you learn from your recovery and add it into your cross-training. It’ll only make you stronger!

Want more tips for cross-training as a dancer? Give these a read: Gym Myths and Misconceptions: The Dancer Edition, 10 Exercises For Dancers That Will Transform Your Technque, The Ultimate Dancer Workout for Conditioning

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