Most Common Ailments of Dancers: Identifying Your Pain

| Well Being

woman dance fitness class

We all know that a key component to any form of exercise is health, and this is especially true for dancers. From Zumba to ballet, dancing is one of the most interactive and demanding sports out there, so it's no wonder that it has one of the highest instances of injury in its participants. In fact, according to the University of Wolverhampton, professional dancers are far more likely to suffer injuries than, say, rugby players. Popular statistics reveal that 80 percent of dancers become subject to at least one injury every year that inhibits their ability to perform, as opposed to the injury rate of 20 percent among rugby and football players. While dancing is a fantastic way to stay in shape, make sure that you educate yourself on the risks and ailments that dancers commonly fall prey to.

Foot and ankle injuries: Considering the amount of time dancers spend on their feet, it's no wonder that foot and ankle injuries are the most popular ailments of this form of fitness. Most dancing injuries actually occur because of overuse, which can affect the bones in the feet and ankles. This contributes to problems like stress fractures (also known as Dancer's Fracture), tendonitis, sprains, bunions, sesamoiditis (or pain under the big toe), plantar fasciitis and hallux rigidus, (or stiff big toe). There are 26 bones in the foot that can be affected by the strain of dancing, and the amount of shock that they are required to absorb often leads to injuries. For more information on these ailments, click here.

Knee injuries: The unique positions that dancers often find themselves in places a lot of stress on the knee. Like foot and ankle injuries, knee pain is caused by overuse, and can be incredibly painful. The most common knee injuries include patellofemoral pain (or anterior knee pain), jumper's knee (or patellar tendonitis), ACL injuries, dislocated knee caps, and more. While these conditions are often treatable, the repetitive pressure and stressed placed on this crucial joint can lead to lifelong afflictions. You can also click here to check out the worst exercises for bad knees!


Hip injuries: Because of the demanding positioning of the hips during dancing, hip injuries claim their fair share of victims. Although it is one of our most stable joints, the amount of flexibility demanded by specific dances, ballet in particular, can lead to several conditions. The most popular of those conditions include trochanteric bursitis (or pain over the side of the hip), snapping hips (which occurs as a tendon or muscle passes over a bony structure), tendonitis, femoral stress fractures, pain in the butt and lower back, and osteoarthritis. We recommend spending some time on stretching and increasing the flexibility of your hip joints. You can try our 9 favorite stretches by clicking here.

>> Read more: Exercises for People with Joint Pain

Back injuries: Just thinking of all the positions dancers can twist their bodies into makes you cringe a bit, right? Well, all that twisting and turning, as breathtaking as it is, can take a toll on the spine. Because of the expansive range of motion required of dancers, the lumbar spine vertebrae takes the cake when it comes to the most popular dancing injuries. Conditions like lower back sprains, interspinous sprains, Schuermann's disease (where the shape of the spine gradually changes over time due to stress), spondylolysis (pain when arching the back), and herniated discs become real obstacles to the rigorous lifestyle that dancers must embrace. Take a look at these six stretches to help you with your back pain by clicking here.

Poor nutrition: Like any athlete, a dancer relies heavily on their nutrition to get them through their workouts and help them stay lean and fit. Unfortunately, the Orthopedics Institute at the Children's Hospital in Colorado claims that most dancers consume less than 70 to 80 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calories. This lack of necessary nutrition forces the body to break down key muscles and bones, which can ultimately damage a dancer's physical health. Poor nutrition can make dancers more susceptible to any of the conditions mentioned above, and can inhibit the healing process if they did contract one of the above afflictions. Fueling your body is absolutely key in leading a healthy, active lifestyle.

woman stretching

Regardless of whether you're dancing for fun or dancing as a professional, it's important to remember that preparing your body for strenuous activity is essential in order to maintain optimum health. Stay on top of your stretching, and make time for some relaxation! Your body needs time to recover and mend in order to keep you safe and injury-free! For more information, check out our sources here: Children's Hospital Colorado: Orthopedics Institute, NYU Langone Medical Center, Children's Hospital Colorado: Orthopedics Institute and the University of Wolverhampton.