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Dance _Sports _Med

Dancers are constantly challenging their bodies, relying on their muscle strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance when they perform or compete. Many dancers dance year round starting when they are young, leading to overuse injuries like stress fractures and tendonitis. Falls, jumps, and spins can also lead to acute injuries like sprains or ruptured tendons.

Get Fit Tips from the NEBH Sports Performance Team
Preventing Injuries
Common Injuries
Injury Statistics

Get Fit Tips from the NEBH Sports Performance Team  

Dance requires balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength for leaping, throwing, catching, and lifting a partner. While dancers tend to focus on their individual dance movements and on their routines, there should be as much of a focus on basic strength and stability.

Due to the nature of dance, overuses injuries to the back, hip and Achilles tendon, and leg tend to be the most frequent injuries that occur. These injuries are caused by the high volume of repetition during practice. Poor technique and core weakness and instability are also major factors that can lead to injuries.

While most dancers tend to stretch well, it is something that should continuously be a focus, as it can increase flexibility and range of motion. Dancers should consider adding a strength training regimen to their workout. While Pilates is very popular for core strengthening, its ability to functionally strengthen the body for lifts and jumps is minor. Remember that strength training is not body building, and a qualified and experienced strength and conditioning specialist can design an effective program focused on the needs of your particular dance.  

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Preventing Injuries

To help prevent injury, make sure you practice these general safety tips:

  1. Warm up and stretch before and after you dance.

  2. Ensure your equipment, specifically your dance shoes, fit properly.

  3. Stay hydrated while dancing.

  4. Before beginning pointe training, take a pre-pointe screening.

  5. Taking rest days will help reduce your chance of overuse injuries. Consult with your instructor about additional ways to prevent overuse injuries.

  6. Review proper dancing technique and participate in a conditioning course to strengthen your muscles, particularly ones statistically prone to injury.

  7. Avoid dancing when you’re injured, and maintain dialog with your teacher and doctor about when you’ll be ready to return to dancing.

  8. Have a physical examination to make sure you’re healthy to dance.

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Common Injuries 

    • Rotator cuff tendonitis
    • Shoulder impingement

Back, Neck & Spine
    • Low back pain
    • Neck strain 

    • Snapping hip syndrome 

Leg & Knee
    • Anterior knee pain
    • Meniscal tear
    • Patallofemoral pain
    • Posterior tibial tendonitis
    • Shin splints

Foot & Ankle
    • Achilies' tendonitis
    • Ankle sprain
    • Bunion
    • Plantar fasciitis 
    • Stress fracture
    • Tendonitis

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Injury Statistics

  • 80% of dancers incur at least one injury a year that affects their ability to perform1

  • The foot and ankle (40%) are the most common sites of injury, followed by the lower back (17%) and the knee (16%)2

  • The rate of injuries is roughly 0.59 per 1,000 hours of class and rehearsal (athletic exposures)2

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Remember to always check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. If you have any type of persistent pain, be sure to see a doctor.

“Tackling the dangers of dance,” University of Wolverhampton, accessed January 22, 2016.

“Injuries in professional modern dancers: incidence, risk factors, and management,” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.