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Can a Proper Warm Up Reduce Injuries in Dancers?

Pre-Activation Warm-Up and Skilled Training Program Associated with Reduced Risk of Injury Among Dancers

We have a lot of dancers that we evaluate and treat for overuse injuries. Most injuries among dancers involve the lower extremity and low back. Research shows that dance-related injuries are often due to muscular fatigue, muscular imbalances, loading intolerances, and balance deficits from an inadequate warm-up, overuse with little rest, and poor dosage of dance-specific activities.

A recent research study, published in The Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine (2020), investigated the implementation of a dynamic warm-up and performance of an injury prevention program (IPP) among dancers.

The IPP was designed by board-certified orthopedic physical therapists who properly instructed dancers on how to perform exercises in a safe and controlled manner. Dancers were instructed to perform a 30-minute exercise program 3 nonconsecutive days/week over a 52-week period.  Initially, emphasis was placed on global strengthening exercises with proper body mechanics and correction of movement faults.  The IPP later progressed to more dance-specific movements. In addition to this, dancers were also instructed to perform a pre-activation warm-up prior to dance-specific activities. The IPP targeted the core, hip abductor, hip flexor, and hip extensor muscles.

Results showed that with the implementation of a pre-activation warm-up and consistent compliance with the IPP, there was an 82% reduction in injuries and the time between injuries was 45% longer. Results also suggest that with compliance of a warm-up with an IPP for as little as 4 weeks may reduce the risk of injuries and increase injury-free time over the course of 1 year.

For more information on a warm-up that has evidence of reducing injury in dancers, contact Omaha Physical Therapy Institute!

Ashlie Eckmann, PT, DPT



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