Twists and turns of dancing: Doctors see a steady rise in dance-related injuries  

While many are joining dance classes for fitness reasons, doctors and trainers warn to follow rules, learn the right moves to avoid acute or severe injuries

Dance can liberate you. While for centuries dancing has been hailed as an effective way to derive a sense of freedom, in contemporary times, dancing has been rediscovered as a way to remain fit.

In no time, dance became synonymous with fitness and the trend has continued till date.

But, the same moves which are touted as fitness exercises for losing weight or as workout sessions, have also unfortunately caused injuries.

Sumitra Pandey (name changed), a 38-year-old Mumbai housewife, is a testimony to the perils of dance.

Pandey had joined dance classes to lose weight, but was resigned to bed rest for four months.

“She had joined zumba classes, which were held for two hours every day, but her body was unable to adjust to the moves. Due to her rigorous dancing, she suffered a slipped disc and had to undergo physiotherapy. She was advised complete bed rest for four months,” said Dr Vishal Peshattiwar, Head of Department of Spine Surgery at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.

Peshattiwar says Pandey is not an isolated case and they are witnessing a steady rise in number of patients suffering injuries due to dancing.

Doctors opine that people who dance usually suffer from acute injury and chronic injury.

“Knee cap surgery, back and hip injury, ankle and foot injury, slipped disc are the most common injuries seen among dancers,” said Dr Ameet Pispati, Orthopaedic at Jaslok Hospital.

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Acute injuries are like fractures or muscle pull and chronic injuries are those which happen later when there is lot of strain on muscles or joint from long-time.

Raina Gagrat, a health fitness specialist, said some injuries are caused when the dancer is not following the right way to move or in cases when body does not allow doing certain activity.

“I teach ‘revolution in motion’. It is a New York based exercise started by Dr Edythe Heus. We use Swiss ball, Bosu ball, slant board and pipes for exercises. This exercise targets tiny muscles, which are ignored while exercising for almost 80% of the time,” Gagrat said.

She advised that along with dance, people should also incorporate exercise in their routine to better their moves as well as prevent injuries.

Dance-related injuries are not just a concern for non-performers or those who take up dancing to remain fit, it is also common among professional dancers.

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Choreographer Feroz Khan

Bollywood choreographer and former judge of TV reality show Dance India Dance, Feroz Khan said dance-related injuries are more common in children and youngsters who practice without supervision.

“Nowadays, many children are joining dance classes. Robotics, locking popping, hip-hop are the popular ones. These dance forms involve a lot of technicalities and one must have the correct knowledge to perform them. If not done under proper supervision, it can lead to serious injuries,” said Khan.

He added the three most important things to be kept in mind for dancers to avoid injuries are wearing right shoes, regular warm-ups and following the technicalities of the particular dance form accurately.

Renowned choreographer Sandip Soparrkar said warm-up session play crucial role in preventing dance injuries.

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Sandip Soparrkar and Alesia Raut

Soparkar, who has suffered from many injuries including a serious knee injury in 2009, has started ‘Cool Down exercise’ in his dance academy to prevent dance-related injuries.

“I believe precaution is better than suffering and that is the reason why I insist on pre and post exercises along with dance in our academy. We have warm-up exercises and post dance, we do a few routine stretching exercise. Pre and post workout sessions help to relax muscles and are aimed at preventing injuries,” said Soparrkar.

A dancer for the last 10 years, Madan Kumar, who represented India and won third place in 2015 at World Salsa Championship in Honk Kong, has also suffered many injuries. Recently, he suffered a ligament tear and was advised a five month rest.

“I have been dancing and teaching Salsa from many years. I get injured frequently. I fear that someday my injuries may prohibit me from dancing and my career as a dancer may end abruptly. So, for future security, I have started acting as well,” said Kumar.