Minimising dance injury through changing dance floors

As someone who has appreciated many dance performances (primarily as I have absolutely NO dancing ability or talent in any single speck of my body!), and as an injury prevention researcher and advocate, my interest was piqued by an article authored by Hopper, Alderson, Elliott, & Ackland recently published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. Having been made for martial arts instead of dancing, I can still recall as a teen the difference flooring can make when you ‘land hard’ – bouts on a tatami were much preferred to bouts in a gymnasium with wood floors (too hard) or with gymnastic mats (too soft). Shin splints already irritated by running hurdles and leaping triple jump were further aggravated by both types of floors. Similarly, Hopper and colleagues note that dance floors have the capacity to contribute to – or prevent – ankle injuries such as ankle tendinopathies and sprains. In their examination of ankle joint mechanics, 14 dancers performed drop landings on five different floors. They note that “Considering the large mechanical demand required to stabilize the ankle joint during landings, floor properties that can absorb landing energy have the potential to reduce ankle joint loads.” Given that nearly 30 years later my shin splints can be aggravated simply by playing a game of basketball with my husband and children (I have decided that it is not simply due to ageing!), it is important to prevent injury wherever possible. Minimising injury is the next best step, although I really don’t think I can blame my shin splints for my non-dancing career path. Thankfully my career does not depend on my lower legs!

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