Dance

01 Overview

Dance is a performing art of body movement set to music, such as ballroom, ballet, tap, hip hop, and contemporary. It is a popular activity performed professionally or as an amateur, competitively or for fun. Injuries are frequently reported in dance, regardless of the style or level of participation. The most common types of injury for dancers occur to the lower limbs.

(see Section 04 - Prevention)
Athlete silhouette
View Common Injuries by clicking the blue dots on the silhouette

The majority of dance injuries occur in the lower limbs.

Injuries to the foot are common in dance.

Knee injuries, including tendonitis and patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee), are common injuries in dance.

Ankle injuries are common in dance.

Chronic back pain is common among dancers.

02 Injury Statistics

Two-thirds of dance injuries among females and half of the dance injuries among males are the result of overuse. Traumatic incidents such as falls or landing incorrectly commonly result in fractures, sprains and strains within the lower limbs. Approximately 75% of injuries among non-professional dancers are due to overuse, while overuse injury is reported by 64% of female professional dancers and 50% of professional male dancers. Between 66% and 91% of all ballet injuries are to the lower limbs.

Curious about the research on injuries?

It is estimated that...

03 Risk Factors

Risk factors for dance injury include previous history of injury, insufficient skills in coping with stress, low body mass index (BMI) and fat levels, risky movements and technique, and overtraining.

  • History of Injury

    Having a previous injury increases the risk of subsequent injury for dancers. Inadequate recovery time and improper rehabilitation may increase the risk of re-injury.

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)

    BMI is a measure of body composition based on your weight and height. Having a low BMI and lower levels of body fat have been shown to increase the risk of dance injury.

  • Overtraining

    Overtraining in dance can increase the risk of injury.

  • Coping Skills

    The inability to cope with the stress of auditions, choreography, and performances have been shown to increase the risk of injury.

  • Technique

    More technical types of dance, such as ballet, require maximal flexibility and range of motion. Dancers may attempt to go past comfortable limits or perform risky moves for a performance, increasing the risk of injury.

04 How can I prevent injury?

Some muscle soreness or joint pain is expected when increasing your level of physical activity. It is important to listen to your body for persistent or worsening pain, and to know when to rest. Learn more about how to prevent injuries in dance.

  • Participant & Parent

    Talk to your coach or organization, if applicable, about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The most common types of injury for dancers are in the lower body, most often tendonitis or other foot, knee, and ankle injuries. The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of injury.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view video and poster.

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the back and knee. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed specific exercises in video and PDF form to help prevent back and knee injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent knee injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Training
    Learning proper form and technique can reduce the risk of injury among dancers. Proper technique can decrease the potential for imbalances that can lead to chronic issues. It is recommended to limit dance training or practice to a maximum of five days a week with a minimum of one day completely free from physical activity. To reduce the risk of injury it is also recommended to limit training before performances.

    Coping Skills
    In dance, the ability to cope with fear, stress, and self-esteem issues can help prevent injury. Auditioning, perfect technique, relationships with choreographers, and maintaining a low or ideal body weight are some of the significant stressors faced by dancers. The time period preceding competitive auditions and before and during performances can be particularly stressful. Monitor your ability to cope with stress and feel confident about your body.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Dance can be a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Coach & Teacher

    Talk to your organization or school about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of injury.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view video and poster.

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Encourage dancers to adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the back and knee. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed specific exercises in video and PDF form to help prevent back and knee injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent knee injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Training
    Teaching proper form and technique can reduce the risk of injury among dancers. Proper technique can decrease the potential for imbalances that can lead to chronic issues. It is recommended to limit dance training or practice to a maximum of five days a week with a minimum of one day completely free from physical activity. To reduce the risk of injury it is also recommended to limit training before performances.

    Coping Skills
    In dance, the ability to cope with fear, stress, and self-esteem issues can help prevent injury. Auditioning, perfect technique, relationships with choreographers, and maintaining a low or ideal body weight are some of the significant stressors faced by dancers. The time period preceding competitive auditions and before and during performances can be particularly stressful. It is important to monitor your dancers’ ability to cope with stress and support a healthy body image.

    Facilities
    The Ontario Physical Education Association (OPHEA) provides recommendations for safely implementing dance in secondary schools.

    Learn more about implementing dance in secondary schools.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Dance can be a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Official & Administrator

    Talk to your coaches, teachers, organization, or school about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of injury.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Encourage coaches and teachers to incorporate a warm-up program like this one into the training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view video and poster.

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Encourage dancers to adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the back and knee. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed specific exercises in video and PDF form to help prevent back and knee injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent knee injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Coping Skills
    In dance, the ability to cope with fear, stress, and self-esteem issues can help prevent injury. Auditioning, perfect technique, relationships with choreographers, and maintaining a low or ideal body weight are some of the significant stressors faced by dancers. The time period preceding competitive auditions and before and during performances can be particularly stressful. Encourage coaches and teachers to monitor their dancers’ ability to cope with stress and support a healthy body image.

    Facilities
    The Ontario Physical Education Association (OPHEA) provides recommendations for safely implementing dance in secondary schools.

    Learn more about implementing dance in secondary schools.

    Training
    Teaching proper form and technique can reduce the risk of injury among dancers. Proper technique can decrease the potential for imbalances that can lead to chronic issues. It is recommended to limit dance training or practice to a maximum of five days a week with a minimum of one day completely free from physical activity. To reduce the risk of injury it is also recommended to limit training before performances.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Dance can be a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Health Professional

    The role of health professionals in preventing dance injuries has two main components:

    1. Providing ongoing education to participants, parents, and coaches on effective injury prevention programs such as balance and resistance training; and
    2. Ensuring that injured participants are completely healed and fit-to-perform before returning to dance to prevent re-injury or chronic injury.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program. Completing this warm-up program can lower the likelihood of injury.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view video and poster.

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Encourage dancers to adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries to the back and knee. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed specific exercises in video and PDF form to help prevent back and knee injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent knee injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent back injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Coping Skills
    In dance, the ability to cope with fear, stress, and self-esteem issues can help prevent injury. Auditioning, perfect technique, relationships with choreographers, and maintaining a low or ideal body weight are some of the significant stressors faced by dancers. The time period preceding competitive auditions and before and during performances can be particularly stressful. Encourage dancers to know how to cope with stress and feel confident about their body; encourage parents, coaches, and teachers to monitor dancers’ ability to cope with stress and support a healthy body image.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Dance can be a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides information about preparticipation physical evaluation.

    Learn more about Preparticipation Physical Evaluation

    Training
    Proper form and technique can reduce the risk of injury among dancers. Proper technique can decrease the potential for imbalances that can lead to chronic issues. It is recommended to limit dance training or practice to a maximum of five days a week with a minimum of one day completely free from physical activity. To reduce the risk of injury it is also recommended to limit training before performances.