Frequently Asked Questions

When I watch some of these shows on TV that feature hip-hop and break dancers, I can't help but wonder how they learn those moves without hurting themselves. I've got a 14-year-old son who is big into hip-hop right now. Where would I take him if he ever injured himself?

In some areas of the country, there are specialty clinics that focus on dancers of all kinds from young children to adult professionals and from hip-hop to classical ballet. Usually these services are located in urban geographical areas like Los Angeles or New York City. But not always -- more and more former dancers are going into fields like physical therapy, sports medicine, and orthopedic surgery. They treat a wide range of patients but hold a special place in their hearts for dancers. Some even offer free screening clinics to help young dancers identify potential problems early on and to get help after minor injuries. Overuse and repetitive motions comprise the bulk of the problems leading to dance injuries. The foot and ankle seem to be the number one area of problems. Tendonitis, ankle impingement, shin splints, and stress fractures head up the list of conditions encountered in the dance world. This makes sense when you realize that a dancer routinely puts 300 pounds of stress on the foot -- and that's before doing any moves that require jumping or leaping. Poor technique and technical errors can often be corrected with coaching and/or some specific exercises. Adding a physical therapist to the team who has been a dancer or who has a special interest in dancers is essential. Most dancers will do anything they can to avoid surgery. And they are no strangers to exercise, so when it comes to doing remedial or rehab exercises, they make willing and compliant patients. Education is the key to a successful, injury-free dancer. Start asking other parents what is available in your area. Check with the staff at the local dance studio (if you have one) to find out if there are any free clinics offered in your area for dancers. If not, this might be a perfect time to start one! With a little help from local health care specialists, other parents, and dance instructors, this kind of idea could go a long way to improve the health and safety of many dancers, including your son.

Gina Brockenbrough. Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons with a Love of the Performing Arts Treat Dancers. In Orthodpedics Today. June 2009. Vol. 29. No. 6. Pp. 48-49.

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