Watching my daughters dance over the past few years has been an amazing experience. Not only are dancers some of the fittest, most flexible and strongest of athletes, their mental perseverance, social skills, and confidence is incredible. However, there is always a downside. Dancer’srepetitive motions, extreme stretching and unbalanced movements can cause a lot of strain, injury and pain throughout the body.
Some of the most common injuries I see as a chiropractor are headaches caused by vigorous head movements, low back strain from stretching and arching the lower back, ankle sprain, knee injuries and neck pain to say the least. These things just come with the territory. Any athlete who trains in a competitive sport, is bound to have some part of their body become overworked. The good news is, if you take care of your dancer’s body you can manage, heal and even prevent injuries from happening.
Here are some things you can do to help…
1. ICE ICE BABY!
Ice is very helpful to acute and chronic injuries. It helps by reducing pain, swelling, muscle spasm and inflammation at the site of injury. It’s also a great way to manage pain without turning to over the counter pain medications. You can use ice on and off throughout the day...but it is especially useful after a night of dance for those sore spots.
2. Epsom salt baths:
After a rigorous dance class your body can be pretty tired. By adding Epsom salts to a warm bath after dance you can help replenish magnesium levels in your body. Magnesium is extremely important for normal nerve and muscle function and helps to relieve muscle cramps, sprains, strains and inflammation. Kids today are verydepleted in Magnesium...so why not take a bath and absorb it through your skin? You can do this a few times a week even, just make sure to drink a glass of water after. Here’s the general recommendations...
Children under 60 lbs: Add 1/2 cup of salts to a standard size bath
Individuals between 60-100 lbs: Add 1 cup of salts to a standard size bath
Individuals between 100-150 lbs: Add 1 1/2 cup of salts to a standard size bath
3. Arnica Gel:
This product is a little secret gem I use all the time! Arnica has healing properties within it and is totally natural, fragrance free and doesn’t heat up on the skin (which is great for little ones who are sensitive). Arnica is effective for strains, sprains, bruises and chronic pain injuries. You can rub it on the area of concern 3-5 times a day and is safe to use. It’s easily found at health food stores, or grocery stores in the healthy living isle.
4. Take your vitamins!
When we replenish our bodies of the nutrients we are depleted in, our bodies function better.
The top 3 supplements I recommend for dancers are:
a) A good vitamin (free of dyes and artificial flavours). When our bodies have the proper nutrients from a good diet and a daily vitamin our body can feel and HEAL much better.
b) Probiotics. These help boost the immune system of dancers when they are overworked and overtired by increasing the healthy bacteria in our gut. 80% of our immunity is through our digestion so it’s important to have established a healthy environment in our bodies. When we aren’t sick as often, we avoid injuries.
c) Fish oil is extremely healthy for our bodies and our brains! And unfortunately kids and teens today are so depleted. Adding a teaspoon of fish oil every day can help boost brain function, increase proper hormone production, improve skin and digestion and especially control inflammation from injuries. There are so many benefits of fish oil I could write an entire article just on that!
In the next few months we will be coming up on the competitive season. As dancers and dance parents, we want to make sure our dancer is as healthy as possible. While it’s near impossible to prevent every injury from happening, we can definitely try to take care of ourselves as best we can.
Have a healthy day dancers!