Dancers, Athletes and Joint Hypermobility
One of the main reasons dancers, gymnasts, cheerleaders, figure skaters, and all athletes for that matter, become injured is due to joint hypermobility. Hypermobility refers to a joints’ ability to move beyond its average range of motion.
A recent study done with young ballet dancers between 9-19 years of age showed that joint hypermobility was the number one predictor of future injury. To a small degree, our genetics and anatomy play a role in our natural joint mobility, however, with proper cross-training, injuries can be easily prevented!
Here are some tips for dancers (and all types of athletes!) to help if you are currently dealing with hypermobile joints, or if you want to prevent injury.
- Strengthen, strengthen, strengthen. Strengthening is one of the best ways we can prevent injury to a joint.
- Avoid overstretching. I know those oversplits are impressive, but without proper joint reinforcements this can lead to further joint instability.
- Cross-training. As dancers we are often caught in a cycle of the same movements. And although we are often placing ourselves into different positions, we need more variety in our training to prevent overuse of muscles, and underuse of others. It’s all about balance!
What you can do before a practice or performance to prepare and optimize your joints.
- Raise your heart rate. Try doing some jogging on the spot, jumping jacks, or some burpees to get your blood pumping!
- Stretch dynamically before class and statically after class. Your muscles are made up of little links and if we over stretch these links before we begin dancing, it will make it more difficult to contract our muscles due to the links being too far apart from one another.
- Do some heel raises! Ankles and calf muscles are pertinent for every style of dance. Waking up those muscle will help activate them and prepare them for all your big leaps and jumps.
- Incorporate large muscle groups in your warmup. Engage the whole lower and upper body through things like squats, lunges, and planks.
- And of course, have a positive mindset. Our mindset for dance class can make or break how we perform.
Working alongside a physiotherapist who has a vast knowledge base in dance and other athletic fields can help optimize your overall performance and prevent further injury. If you are interested in increasing your overall strength or taking your athletic training to the next level, book an appointment with Allie Bruce-Fuoco Physiotherapist and former 2023 National Highland Dance Champion.