So many times I have seen performers dancing on an injury, I've even done it myself.
I know the feeling of frustration having injured yourself and being told to sit out for 9 weeks, I have done the odd workshop with an injury because I loved that routine, or being told to “do what I can” in a dance class resulting in completing the entire class in tears.
And too many times have I either witnessed or been told about performers being pushed to perform or train on an injury that then makes it so much worse. Resulting in more time out of training or even life-long pain and adjustment or even ending performing careers.
Dance teachers or dance captains can only judge from what they see and what you tell them. And especially in vocational schools it can be very tricky to decipher real injuries from a students least enjoyable class. It may be the case you are told to dance on an injury you shouldn’t be dancing on, or told to “do what you can” (and because performers tend to be stubborn, this means you end up doing everything). There can be a kind of pressure to dance through it, whether this is coming from the teaching or from yourself.
So it is the performer, who really needs to take responsibility and have the autonomy of their own body to know when to dance or when to rest.
This doesn’t necessarily come naturally, it may, unfortunately, come with experience.
This post will hopefully help you with what to look out for when experiencing pain from your training.
We have all experienced some kind of pain when dancing/ training or afterwards. Aching in the muscles or even a burning sensation is perfectly normal when trying or adding a different exercise or type of training, and the peak of this aching will most likely be after the session itself and can last between 1-3 days. This is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS, something you may have heard gym-goers talk about. DOMS should go away either with rest or with another workout once the muscles have warmed up thoroughly, however, if this pain continues for longer than three days you may want to think about getting it checked out.
An injury doesn’t tend to feel like muscular aching, injuries tend to feel like more of a sharp, stabbing, deeper pain. Minor injuries may heal with rest, if the pain lasts longer than a week you should have this checked out by a practitioner such as a physio.
If you experience a sharp, stabbing pain…STOP.
It may be that you are performing that particular movement incorrectly and so it is causing pain, in which case this needs to be addressed and corrected. If the pain does not go away this may be an injury…so don’t do continue to repeat the movement or exercise that is causing pain at this time.
If the area that is in pain has started to swell, or feels really hot - stop dancing. Sounds obvious but it is worth saying. If this is the case you should raise the injury and ice it until you can get it checked.
Once you have seen a practitioner, such as a physio,
DO WHATEVER THEY HAVE TOLD YOU TO DO.
If they tell you to rest completely, do so. If they tell you to do certain exercises 5 times a day, do so. The fastest and most efficient way to recover will be to do as you are told (by the practitioner). It is so easy to think, as a dancer, that you can push through and it will still recover. This could make your injury so much worse leading to longer recovery periods or worse.
There is always something you can do…for example if it is your ankle you have injured you could focus your time on some upper body work. But when it comes to the site of the injury, just focus on the recovery as frustrating though that may be.