One of the most frustrating aspects of Irish dancing. It takes us away from dancing and can be a challenging setback to come back from. In this four part blog series, we’ll be covering a topic we’re passionate about here at Target Training: preventing Irish dance injuries. Injury prevention is a complex topic with many contributing factors. Not all injuries can be prevented–for example, falling off the monkey bars and fracturing your wrist. However, we can reduce your risk of injuries that are a result of overuse (too much dancing without enough rest) or improper alignment of your body. Recent research by Stein et all has shown that 80% of all injuries in Irish dance are attributed to overuse! In this four part blog series, we’ll break down some contributing factors to preventing injuries (and announce something exciting!). We'll begin in part 1 by reviewing some of the most common Irish dance injuries.
Image from https://www.oastaug.com/ankle-sprains-high-vs-low/ Ankle Sprain Ankle sprains are one of the most common injuries in Irish dance, but sprains can happen at any ligament–a tissue that connects one bone to another–in your body. A sprain occurs when a ligament is suddenly or forcefully stretched outside its normal range of motion. They are graded on a scale of I (a slight disruption in the tissue) to III (a total tear).
Image from https://pediatricfootankle.com/foot-conditions/severs-disease/ Sever’s Disease Sever’s isn’t actually a disease, like the name suggests; rather, it’s a condition that commonly affects dancers going through growth spurts. During these times, bones grow faster than muscles and tendons can keep up with. With the case of Sever’s, as the shin bones grow, the calf muscle gets tight and the Achilles tendon pulls on the heel bone, resulting in pain and swelling in that area that gets worse with standing, walking, or jumping. Read more about Sever's Disease on our blog HERE.
Image retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/shin-splints.html Shin Splints Shin Splints or Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome most often starts off feeling like an achy pain along the lower 1/3 of your inner shin. When it first starts, it only hurts with aggravating activities, like jumping. And your shin may be sore to the touch. As the condition gets a little worse, you might notice swelling above your ankle, and pain that becomes sharp, more intense, and more frequent. It may even start hurting with walking or at rest in more severe cases. If it goes untreated, it can sometimes result in a stress fracture. Read more about Shin Splints on our blog HERE.
Image retrieved from https://panthersportsmedicine.com/blog/what-is-osgood-schlatters-disease-and-who-gets-it/
Osgood-Schlatter’s is inflammation of the growth plate at the top of the shin and can result in a bump and pain right below your kneecap. Similar to Sever’s disease, Osgood-Schlatter affects dancers experiencing growth spurts as bones grow faster than muscle during this time.
Read more about knee pain in our blog HERE.
Image retrieved from https://goldenharper.net/sesamoiditis/ Sesamoiditis The sesamoids are two pea-sized bones surrounded by a tendon that sit right at the ball of your foot. These bones can become irritated by repetitive landings on the balls of your feet and/or improper alignment of your big toe.
Image retrieved from https://www.drelton.com/blog/stress-fractures-in-the-foot Stress Fractures Stress fractures are small, micro cracks in bone caused by repetitive movements, especially repetitive jumps or landings. These are not full bone breaks, but if left untreated can progress to full breaks.
Image retrieved from https://www.sportsmd.com/sports-injuries/knee-injuries/how-to-treat-tendonitis/ Tendinitis Tendinitis is inflammation of a tendon–the tissue that connects muscle to bone. This can be caused by a sudden (acute) injury, like landing a jump wrong and twisting your knee, but is much more commonly seen from repeating the same motions over and over again. *Note - Is the spelling tendinitis or tendonitis? Both work! Tendinitis is more commonly used in medical fields so we tend to use that variation of the spelling.
The plantar fascia is a thick sheet of tissue that covers the sole of your foot from your heel to the base of your toes and creates the arch of your foot. This tissue can get tight and inflamed, usually from overuse (lots of dancing or training in a short period of time with inadequate rest) and cause pain and swelling along the bottom of the foot.
Read more about Plantar Fasciitis on our blog HERE.
Check out more from our Injuries in Irish Dance blog series below!
Ellen Waller & Ella Pomplun
Resources Stein et all, (2013). Injuries in Irish dance. Journal of Dance Medicine and Science. Dec;17(4):159-64.