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A Guide to Avoiding Injury (karma: 4)
By ID_Addict
On Sat Sep 11, 2010 04:01 AM
Edited by ID_Addict (218710) on 2010-09-11 04:02:57 typos
Edited by ID_Addict (218710) on 2010-09-11 04:06:53 more typos!
Made sticky by oz_helen (35388) on 2010-09-13 20:50:57

As Irish Dancers we all know that injuries are our pet hates and that having to take time off dance to heal is not fun.
So, I've decided to use the time off that I currently have to learn as much as I can about avoiding injury and I thought I'd share it all with you.

I'm going to divide the information into categories to make it easier to find what you need:

1) Warming up and Stretching:
It's really important to make time for a proper warm up and stretch session everytime before you dance. Even if you're just planning on going over each dance once, you still need to have warm muscles before you dance.

Warm ups can be anything from jogging on the spot to jumping rope or doing star jumps or skipping...whatever takes your fancy. You should spend at least 10 or 15 minutes doing your warm ups. You'll know you're ready to dance properly when you can feel that your body temperature is raised and your legs feel loose.

Do not do any hectic stretching before you're warmed up! Stretching cold muscles can lead to injuries! An ideal time to do your stretches is after your warm up, before you start dancing properly.

Also, NEVER "bounce" into or out of stretches as you can risk tearing things that way...not fun! You need to do stretches slowly and it helps to breathe deeply in and out while you stretch so that you increase the flow of oxygen and blood to your muscles.

2) Cooling Down:
Just as it is important to warm up properly, it is also important to "cool down" properly after your dancing session. What this means is that you should not just suddenly stop your session after just finishing a gruelling complicated Treble Jig or the likes. You need to gradually slow down the pace and intensity of your work out..In other words ease your muscles out of their frenzy of dancing.

What I usually do is I finish practicing whatever it was that I was working on and then I just do trebles or skip two three's, or anything simple like that. I do this for a few minutes just to give myself time to catch my breath again and relax my legs.

After you've "cooled down" you should do another stretching session.. This time you can do more hard core stretches than you did before because your muscles are warm and the risk of injuring them is not as high as if you did it on cold muscles. So if you do things like the splits then now is your time to do them; not before your practice!

3) Everyday Things:
Other than the warming up, stretching, cooling down process there are things you can do everyday to prepare your body for dancing and to keep yourself strong.

Things like calf raises, lunges, leg lifts and arch exercises really help to give you the extra strength you need to be an Irish Dancer. Core strength exercises like crunches or planks etc. are also important because if you are strong all round you will find it easier not to put too much strain on certain muscles while dancing to compensate for other weaknesses.

4) Cross- training:
Cross-training can really help with your stamina and over all fitness, but it can also help you to avoid injuries. For exemple, swimming is great for fitness and over all strength and it is also non-impact so your muscles get a work out without the usual gruelling impact that Irish Dance puts on your body.

Even taking another form of dance or doing pilates or playing hockey, or football..whatever you like. Any other form of exercise can really help you to build up your strength without only focusing on your dancing muscles. Many injuries can be caused by one group of muscles being over-developed and then pulling your joints out of alignment. This is why it is so important to find another activity to do that uses differnt muscles from the ones used in Irish Dance.

5) Listen to your Body:
This for me is often the hardest part because what it means is that you need to take note of any signs your body is giving you, even if it means taking a week off.

We're all used to pain, being Irish Dancers, so I'm not saying rush yourself off to the doctor whenever you feel a slight twinge. You just need to know your body and you need to be able to tell when something doesn't feel right.
Usually if you're experiencing a pain and it doesn't go away after a couple of days, you should get it seen to. It might not be anything serious, but if you ignore it too long it will come back to get you when you least expect it.

6) If you're already injured:
If you're out of dance due to injury, you really need to make sure you listen tp your physio and do everything they say. If they give you exercises to do, DO THEM. If they tell you not to do any exercise for 3 weeks, then don't do any exercise for 3 weeks. They know what they're dealing with and they want you to be back at dancing as soon as possible, but they also want to make sure you are properly healed before sending you back into the danger zone.

Ask your physio questions...lots of questions! You need to know as much as you can about the cause of your injury, the extent of the damage, and how the healing process is working. This will also help to calm your frustration at not being able to dance, because you will feel more in control of the situation if you know exactly what is going on.


I think that's pretty much all for now. But I'm sure all you DDNers will have more advice to add. So feel free to add whatever I've left out. (and to correct me where I'm wrong :P )

26 Replies to A Guide to Avoiding Injury

re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury (karma: 1)
By AussieLauramember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Sep 11, 2010 04:37 AM
Fantastic advice, thankyou so much for sharing! Sticky! :D
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By ID_Addict
On Sat Sep 11, 2010 07:49 AM
Glad it's useful! :)

Another thing I forgot to add is the importance of dancing on the right surfaces.
So in other words NEVER DANCE ON CONCRETE OR TILES! I spent a few years practicing on concrete floor at home and it gave me very bad shin splints...so don't do it. I ended up saving up my money so I could buy the necessary things to build a sprung wooden floor at home. It's wasn't too expensive (although it wasn't cheap)and now I don't have to put my body through that torture anymore.

There should always be an alternative to dancing on concrete floors. You could arrive aerly for class and practice in the studio, or stay late afterwards. Or you could arrange to practice with a friend who has a suitable practice floor. There are many options, you just need to look for them. Anyone who has danced on concrete floors will tell you don't even go there. It's not worth it.
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By djcharamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Sep 11, 2010 07:58 PM
really great post, thanks for taking the time to write all this out! karma :D
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By boleyngrrl
On Sat Sep 11, 2010 09:45 PM
^^ Here here!!! All my doctors have said "You need to dance on a sprung floor!" (That is, until I asked them where to find one since my studio doesn't schedule extra times for individual practice. Then they were like "Uhhhhh......") You can work something out with a local dance studio, usually, because most times they aren't over-expensive with private dancers. The only trick there is finding ones that will let you, because liability issues prevent most of them from being ok with it. Great post by the way!!!!
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By irishreel
On Mon Sep 13, 2010 02:50 AM
Great job! This should be sticky! Karma for you
- irishreel -
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By ID_Addict
On Fri Sep 17, 2010 08:37 AM
Edited by ID_Addict (218710) on 2010-09-17 08:37:33
So glad you all find this post helpfull :)
Feel free to add any advice you have!
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By chaplyn143
On Sat Jan 15, 2011 10:43 AM
Thank you so so much for posting this!!!! It helped me out a ton!!!!!! :)
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By tgc
On Tue Sep 13, 2011 06:46 PM
Edited by hummingbird (128773) on 2011-09-13 21:31:42 Edited in your other reply to this thread
Thanks for the info.

I have always wondered if ballet, jazz, irish dance or tap has more injuries? If anyone has statistics, please reply.

Comment #9710976 deleted
Removed by hummingbird (128773) on 2011-09-13 21:33:14 You have two hours after posting to edit your post, I've put both of your replies together.

re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By RinceMama
On Thu Sep 15, 2011 01:50 PM
This is great advice. Especially if your child is going through a growth spurt where everything is already stretched, you do need to warm up properly or risk injury.
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By tgc
On Sat Sep 24, 2011 07:46 AM
Thanks for the advice and we will compare this to what my daughters do before and after a practice.
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By GRL611
On Tue Jan 10, 2012 06:38 PM
So much useful information. Thank you so much for posting this, it is very helpful!
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By salsss
On Tue Jan 24, 2012 09:13 AM
Thank you for this information. Looks like you covered everything!
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By IrishSweetey
On Fri Apr 20, 2012 03:08 PM
Wonderful advice! Thank you so much for posting this. I have never had an injury and hope to keep it that way. :)
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By SophiaOlympia
On Fri Apr 20, 2012 07:31 PM
Wonderful advice. I've been wanting to cross train for awhile and wasn't sure which way to go. Definitely going to try swimming.
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By SophiaOlympia
On Fri Apr 20, 2012 07:32 PM
Wonderful advice. I've been wanting to cross train for awhile and wasn't sure which way to go. Definitely going to try swimming.
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By shimmynow
On Thu Apr 26, 2012 03:38 PM
Very good post! Thank you!
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By Teasharkmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Apr 27, 2012 02:20 AM
copied and printed. Will go in dance bag and on wall behind screen at work :)

Thank you for reminding us of the important things!

Kind regards,

TeaShark
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By Mack411
On Fri May 04, 2012 07:13 AM
Great advise, my daughter just recoverd from a broken foot. Very helpful!
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By Kaarinamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Mon May 07, 2012 11:55 AM
Great post! I always do at least a small warm up every time, but it never crossed my mind to do a cool down, too! Lol, I usually save the toughest dance for last, then stop dancing and either stretch for 5-10 mins or go straight home. And my feet don't exactly thank me for that :P

I think I should do the same as Teashark and copy&print this and put it in my shoebag just to remind me :]

Comment #9934423 deleted

re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By Anmmom
On Tue Jun 11, 2013 12:20 PM
great advice
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By dancer_girl4192
On Tue Jun 11, 2013 08:38 PM
Greaat advice! This information is so useful and deserves to be a sticky. My daughter broke her ankle about a year ago and has always been nervous about hurting herself again, especially in softshoe. I'll show this to her.
re: A Guide to Avoiding Injury
By jessiedancer90
On Fri Jul 12, 2013 01:56 AM
This is really great advice, I took a three year break and have recently come back to dancing, I suffer with injuries quite a lot so this information has really helped :)
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