In dance, there are many common injuries that can put a dancer out of class for weeks, even months in order to recover. We discussed a few of these in previous posts: Common Problems That Young Dancers Deal With and Treatments for Tendonitis. One of the most common issues that I continually see among dancers, especially young dancers, is that they don't take the necessary time off when they start to feel pain. Not caring for an injury when it is minor oftentimes leads to something much worse and requiring more time off for recovery.
Stress fractures are tiny breaks or cracks in the bone caused by overuse. The most common area that stress fractures occur in dancers is in the ankles and feet. The constant jumping, springing, pointing, and turning can stress the delicate bones in the feet. Dancers who are en pointe are more susceptible to stress fractures and need to take preventative action against them.
Depending on the severity of the stress fracture, it can take up to 8 weeks of recovery time. However, recovery time can increase if the fracture is left untreated for long periods of time. Remember, you don't want the stress fracture to become a full-blown break.
Bones, like muscles, get stronger the more you use them. However, bones can easily become weakened if you are not providing your body with enough rest time/recovery, vitamins and minerals, and hydration. Amenorrhea, diabetes, osteoporosis, and eating disorders can cause bone weakness.
Always visit your doctor if your symptoms worsen.
Mild fractures: slightly painful with a gradual onset of pain over time. Possible tenderness and heat. The pain will go away with rest.
Moderate fractures: pain lasts for a couple of hours after activity and subsides. Can be taken care of at home with rest for 6-8 weeks and R.I.C.E. treatment.
Severe fractures: painful during everyday activities and continues while at rest. This requires medical attention immediately.
As you already know, I like to encourage my clients/students/readers to prevent an injury before it becomes a possibility. Prevention is key to keeping your body strong and healthy.
Vary your exercise routines and try not to put stress on one area of your body when doing strenuous exercise. Jogging and running can put dancers at a disadvantage as it puts too much stress on the already stressed bones in the feet and legs. Ensure that you are using proper form whenever you begin an exercise routine and whenever you are in dance/rehearsal. Wear proper foot protection when exercising and warm up correctly before any type of exercise.
Coconut oil is great for maintaining strong and healthy ligaments, connective tissue, and bone. Organic, cold-pressed coconut oil can be added to foods, coffee (bullet-proof coffee), smoothies, or it can be taken by the spoonful for an extra boost.
Natural anti-inflammatories are super important for dancers as their constant physical exertion can cause inflammation to build up in the body. I recommend looking into Marcozymes. Over-the-counter drugs can cause more problems than they help, so using natural anti-inflammatories is your best option. Please remember to consult your doctor. More information about natural anti-inflammatories can be found in A Dancer's Diary.
If you would like more information on stress fractures and their at-home care, I recommend that you check out my book, A Dancer's Diary. In there, I have provided an entire section dedicated to this topic as well as the prevention and recovery options.
If you begin to feel the symptoms of a stress fracture, whether minor or severe, you must take the time off to recover. You do not want a fracture to become a full break. I hope that this information helps you prepare your body properly. Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions.
Until next time,
Resources: A Dancer's Diary (all of the information in this post is copyright and may not be reproduced in any way unless you have been given express permission by the author/owner)