When people think of dance injuries, the mind often automatically goes to a setting of a ballet barre or stage show. Sometimes dance injuries happen in the social dance arena as well. For the purposes of this article, the term social dance will be defined as a dance style that requires at least 2 people that are moving in a coordinated pattern. There is usually a lead and follow role in these dance styles. These styles are most commonly known as, but are not exclusive to, ballroom dances. They can include Salsa, Mambo, Bachata, Swing, Argentine Tango, Brazilian Zouk, Kizomba, and Waltz, along with many more.
While dancing may sometimes look very simple or easy, be sure to learn your technique. This is something necessary to keep from injuring yourself, but also to keep from injuring your partner. Your only source of learning a dance move should not be from a YouTube video. Find an instructor and practice it with an actual partner. Get feedback from partners and instructors.
Part of technique is knowing that it is everybody’s personal responsibility to find their own axis and stay on it unless a specific dance move requires the axis to be altered. By not being in control and not being on your axis, you are depending on your partner to hold you up and balance you, which can lead to both parties getting injured. Know your limitations for your safety and for that of your partner. Proper lessons in technique and foundations along with practice will assist in helping people stay safe.
Find out what the location is like where you will be dancing. Flooring can vary from ballroom wood, studio marley, to whatever a sports bar has to offer, or you could be dancing outside on concrete. With that said, know what shoes will work best. Those that may be comfortable dancing in tango style high heels in a ballroom may need to switch to a ballroom sneaker or flat shoe if they have found themselves at an outdoor venue.
Another way to be prepared is to make sure that you are well hydrated. Make sure that your water consumption during the day is regular and that you are drinking water during your social dancing events.
Lastly, warm yourself up. Take your first few dances slowly and recognize that you may need a warm up dance. As a lead or follow, it is completely okay to tell your partner that you will be taking it easy for a song or two to get warmed up.
Some may say that this means to use caution, but I think that sounds too negative. Check out the space that you are dancing in. There may be hazards in the form of water spills, chairs or tables, wiring, or uneven patches in the ground for electric outlets.
While you are resting, observe other dancers. If you are a follow and notice a leader that you have never danced with who may seem too aggressive or who may appear to be constantly leading their partner into harms way, be sure to keep that in mind. “Traffic accidents” can and do happen on the dance floor if the leader doesn’t pay attention. Even worse, in the case of a style like Brazilian zouk, a concussion can happen. You may need to decline a dance with a particular leader if they ask. The same goes for the leads watching followers. A follower’s job is to remain light and they are responsible for being on their axis, being in control of their own body and bodyweight.
All forms of dance can be fun, but keep in mind that injuries can always occur. Some are complete freak accidents, while others can be avoided. Getting technical, being prepared, and being aware can really help to avoid unnecessary trauma. If you have been injured and are trying to get back on your feet, visit your friendly physical therapist at PhysioDC for a consultation, and we can get you back on the dance floor sooner rather than later.