The challenges that dancers face are extreme, especially when meeting demands of multiple shows in a short period of time like the Radio City Rockettes. It’s taxing on the body. Fortunately for the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, Rothman Orthopaedics is dedicated to providing dancers with service every step - and eye high kick - of the way.
Why Dancing is Taxing on the Body
Dance is physically demanding, and proper technique is crucial to avoiding injury. A dynamic warm-up and recovery cool-downs before and after rehearsals or performances can be just as important as the performance itself. Skipping these necessary steps can lead to pain which can put dancers out of commission in the short-term, or lead to serious injury that they may suffer from long-term.
Angela D. Smith, MD, orthopaedic surgeon and AAOS spokesperson states that, “for dancers, overuse injuries are common because they must practice and perform specific, difficult poses and movements that require this great strength and flexibility -- over and over again. A careful warm-up that includes stretching and a gradual, progressive build-up to new skills or performance roles helps prevent overuse injuries. Rapidly increasing the amount of dancing or suddenly changing technique often causes problems."
How Do Dancers Know if It’s Soreness or an Injury?
It’s normal to be sore after a long day of practicing and working many different muscle groups, but an injury is not normal and needs to be addressed. The tricky part about this is that symptoms of an injury and muscle soreness can easily be mixed up. Here are some ways to determine one from the other:
Muscle soreness usually subsides within 24 to 48 hours
Muscle soreness can be delayed, meaning you feel okay right after activity but comes a little later
Pain from an injury typically wakes you up at night
Pain that increases with an activity is concerning for an injury
What are Some Common Dancing Injuries?
In this study, 204 dancers were screened over a five-year period to identify injury patterns in elite pre-professional ballet dancers. The study found that 32% to 51% of the dancers were injured each year. Below is a breakdown of injuries:
Based upon these findings and many other studies and reports, the foot and ankle are the most common areas to be injured in dancers. Almost half of all injuries in professional ballet companies can be foot and ankle.
Flexor Hallucis Longus (FHL) tendinopathy is seen in classical ballet, particularly those who go en pointe, because the FHL tendon is responsible for pointing the big toe. It starts in the calf and travels through the ankle and the bottom of the foot to attach at the very end of the big toe. Overuse or misuse of the FHL tendon due to poor technique can lead to pain, swelling and even catching – called trigger toe.
Other common foot and ankle injuries dancers commonly experience include stress fractures and ankle sprains.
Dance requires a lot of flexibility which involves moving a joint throughout the full range of motion. The hip is particularly vulnerable to impingement when forcing certain movements common to dance, such as turnout or splits. The bones of the hip joint can start to build up, causing a spur, or the cartilage between the joints might tear. Sometimes hip impingement is not even due to a problem in the hip at all, and instead is because the lumbar spine is hyperextended.
Is Cross Training Necessary for Dancers?
With most sports and activities, athletes who participate in various types of training in addition to their sport of choice manage to perform optimally. This is true with dance as well. Core and hip strengthening exercises like Pilates and stability-based yoga are recommended for dancers. Dancers are also encouraged to participate in cardio three to four times per week to increase stamina and endurance that will pay off during long shows and concerts.
Why is Nutrition So Important for Dancers?
Dancers lose a lot of fluids through sweat during rehearsals or performances, so ensuring they drink plenty of water and stay hydrated is necessary to their health. Nutritious meals to fuel the body through constant movement is also crucial. Calcium intake and appropriate calorie consumption promotes proper bone health to prevent fractures from the stresses of dancing. It also supports healthy muscles and tendons.
About the Rothman Orthopaedic Institute Partnership with Radio City Rockettes
In 2019, Rothman Orthopaedic Institute announced a multi-platform partnership with the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes, presented by Chase. As part of this partnership, Rothman is the Official Orthopaedic Partner and Provider of the Christmas Spectacular. Since 2019, Rothman doctors, led by Dr. Melody Hrubes, MD, Medical Director for the Radio City Rockettes, have been responsible for overseeing the general health and orthopaedic care for this American precision dance company.
Alexander R. Vaccaro, MD, PhD., MBA, President of Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, Richard H. Rothman Professor and Chairman of the Department of Orthopaedics, and Professor of Neurosurgery at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospitals commented on this wonderful partnership by stating, “You cannot find more iconic brands in New York around the holidays than the Radio City Rockettes and the Christmas Spectacular. When we expanded our practice into New York last year, one of our priorities was forming a long-term partnership with a powerful brand synonymous with athletics, active lifestyle and creating family memories. The Rockettes and the Christmas Spectacular embody each of these attributes, making them a perfect fit for Rothman.”
If you or someone you know is a dancer, keep this information in mind especially during your busy holiday season. Click here to make an appointment if you’re dealing with dance-related pain or injury.
For even more content surrounding the Radio City Rockettes, listen to the latest podcast on The Breakdown.