Because of the physical exertion involved, dancers are very susceptible to injury. One of the most common dancing injuries is the sprained ankle. When performing a jump or combination, dancers often roll over their ankle or land incorrectly, causing the ligaments to tear. When the sprain occurs, dancers may even hear a small “popping noise,” alerting them to the fact that their ankle has twisted.
Dancers never want to be off the dance floor for too long, but sprained ankles can leave them unable to dance for a week or more. By using the appropriate physical therapy for ankle sprains, however, dancers can be leaping again in no time.
When a dancer sprains an ankle, this often leads to pain and swelling. When an ankle is twisted, the lateral ligaments in the ankle tear. This is the source of the discomfort. The severity of the pain depends on the severity of the injury. Some ankle sprains may heal themselves with the help of an ace bandage, while others might require lengthy recuperation.
When a dancer sustains a foot or ankle injury, they should always seek professional medical help. Even if the ankle feels fine the next day, continuing to dance on an injured foot will only exacerbate the condition, sometimes making things worse. Physicians can offer dancers a number of treatment options, ranging from prescription pain relievers to immobilizing boots.
Doctors are likely to recommend the familiar acronym RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. When they don’t improve with time, however, it can be symptomatic of a larger issue. Because of the quick twists, jumps, and directional changes required in dance, more severe ankle injuries can occur, such as fractures.
After getting checked by a physician, a dancer with ankle sprains should consider physical therapy. Physical therapists can give dancers the assistance they need during recovery time. When confronted with dancing injuries, physical therapists will first prescribe a treatment plan focused on reducing pain. This may involve gentle stretching, and the physical therapist will work to mobilize the joints and soft tissues surrounding the ankle. Once some progress has been made, the therapist will work to strengthen the muscles with appropriate exercises.
With the help of physical therapy, the pain should start to dissipate, and the dancer will feel their ankle getting stronger and more stable. When dancers sustain ankle injuries, they often find that they need to reacquaint themselves with space during the healing process. At this point in the therapy, the dancer might begin to do balance exercises, which can help dancers gain the stability they need. They might ease back into traditional barre routines, trying out releves and other balance exercises. This should be done with care, as it’s easy to go overboard with balance exercises.
After an appropriate length of time, the dancer can return to class. They should wear an ankle brace during class, however, to protect the still healing ankle. When at home, they should continue to do the exercises that their physical therapist prescribed. This will ensure that the injury continues to heal by strengthening the muscles and stretching the joints. If the dancer doesn’t take the appropriate steps to stave off future injury, recurrence is a distinct possibility.
Being a dancer is difficult on the body. It puts an immense amount of strain on the foot, perhaps the most important tool in the dancer’s arsenal. With the appropriate care, however, dancers can easily recover from ankle sprains. Effective physical therapy techniques ensure that dancers have the lengthy careers they’ve always dreamed of.
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