Every dancer, athlete, and active person has had that moment when they get injured in some capacity but must continue on dancing, playing a sport, or keeping up with their kids. Just recently I had two injuries that should have taken me “out of the game” so to speak, but instead I kept dancing injured.
As I was in rehearsal, working out, and teaching dance I wondered what damage was happening to my body in the long run and if there was a better way to be actively injured without actively destroying my body. This led to some research . . . What I found was that rest and time off is probably the best option, however, for many of us dancers that isn’t always an option. So instead of wondering what to do, I decided to take matters into my own hands and become proactive about healing my injuries.
Step One: Admit that you are injured. This is probably the hardest thing for me to do. I sometimes have it in my mind that if I think I’m fine than I will be, but that mentality ends up just injuring my body and mind more. The proper mindset is the key to healing. By admitting that you are indeed injured allows you and others to become more aware of the pain, the problem, and the healing. If I lied to every dancer in my company that my thumb wasn’t jammed and that when I landed on my back it didn’t hurt I would be continuously injuring myself and potentially other dancers. Although this step is hard, in the long run it might just be the step that saves your body the most.
Step Two: Heat and Ice. As soon as you get injured the natural response of your body is to swell to help create pain so that you realize that you are hurt and stop doing whatever you are doing. Since swelling is something that doesn’t always happen when dealing with the normal injuries; pulled or sore muscles, and joint pain, it is a huge indicator that something is wrong. Icing down after the injury has just occurred and taking a swelling reducer like aspirin can help a ton with both swelling and pain maintenance. After the immediate care of the injury, it is great to do contrast bathing to further the healing process. What has worked for me the best so far has been to use a heating pad to heat up my back before rehearsal and then ice it down after rehearsal and then do contrast baths at the end of my day. You need to find what works best for you, and whatever it is, is great as long as your body doesn’t get more injured and starts to heal!
Step Three: Research. When I jammed my thumb I couldn’t open a door or push anything closed, so I decided I needed to stabilize it so that I would stop using it. Then I realized I had never stabilized a thumb before, so I went online to youtube.com and looked up videos on how to tape a thumb. I probably watched about 8 videos before I found the one that would work the best for me. I also looked up what happens to a thumb when you overstretch the joint. Being in the know about your injury is a great way for you to prevent yourself from getting more injured. Not to be corny but in this case,
knowledge is power!
Step Four: Medical Intervention. As much as I like to take care of my body through home remedies and think that I know best, I sometimes don’t. Going to see the doctor in whatever form that means to you; chiropractor, physical therapist, or general doctor, it is important to get a professionals opinion, just in case there is something going on that you can’t feel or see.
In general being injured is quite frustrating but healing can be even more frustrating if not done correctly. By taking the time to heal properly and to not push your body to hard too fast you’ll find that your dancing career can last as long as you want it to, instead of when your injuries tell you it is over. As my father would say, “you have to take care of your body, because it’s the only one you get.”
Happy dancing and healing!
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