Summer is approaching, and for some young dancers, this means intensive dance programs. Here are a few tips from Dr. Elizabeth Manejias, physiatrist and acupuncturist at HSS’s Integrative Care Center, that will help keep you injury free during your increased training schedule.
1. Rest. Get plenty of sleep. Studies have shown that fatigue is an important risk factor to developing an injury. Poor concentration from fatigue or stress may interfere with your ability to focus on proper technique and alignment, predisposing you to developing an injury.
2. Feedback. Listen to your body. Ignoring an injury may unnecessarily cause your injury to progress. It is better to address an ache early on as this is the first sign that something in your body is awry. Prevention is key. Maintaining strength, flexibility and aerobic endurance is essential. Dance class alone may not sufficiently increase strength and elasticity. Remember, identifying an injury early on translates into decrease time away from dance and less time needed to recover.
3. Fuel. Eat a well rounded nutritious diet and stay hydrated throughout the day. Making sure you are getting the recommended essential nutrients allows your body to heal. Adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D are required to maintain healthy bones and eating an anti-inflammatory diet high in fruits, vegetables and omega 3 fatty acids can help you manage your pain naturally. Remember that energy drinks and stimulants such as caffeine are no substitute for a healthy snack.
4. Adaptation. Resize your shoes every couple of years. Dancing in tight fitted shoes may cause undue stress on your feet and predispose you to developing injuries. Do not forget to increase your shoe size as your feet grow both in width and length.
5. Awareness. Respect your body’s natural limitations. Every dancer’s body is unique and many injuries can occur when trying to attain an ideal dancer’s physique.This is especially true of turn out required for many forms of dance. Forcing your turnout at the knees, foot or ankle can cause injury in these areas. Try to appreciate the value of your uniqueness and work within your physical limitations. Remember that your limitations may change as you get older. Ask your teacher, physical therapist or doctor to screen for improper turnout technique.
Dr. Manejias provides care to many professional dancers and dance students in NYC.
Dr. Elizabeth Manejias is a physiatrist and acupuncturist at Hospital for Special Surgery. Professionally trained in ballet, Dr. Manejias is active in the performing arts community and provides educational lectures to dance programs on injuries and medical problems common in the female athlete. She treats dancers from Broadway to professional ballet.