First Aid for Dancers/Injury

What Happens When a Dancer is Injured?

  • Cells within the tissue are damaged
  • The body reacts with an inflammatory response
  • Use PRICED to control (not eliminate) the level of inflammation and pain

 

PRICED

Using PRICED in the first minutes and hours after an acute injury can help to control the level of pain and inflammation:

  • PROTECTION: Remove additional danger or risk from injured area.
  • REST: Stop dancing and stop moving the injured area.
  • ICE: Apply ice to the injured area for 20 minutes every two hours.
  • COMPRESSION: Apply an elastic compression bandage to the injured area.
  • ELEVATION: Raise the injured area above the heart.
  • DIAGNOSIS: Acute injuries should be evaluated by a health-care professional (48-72 hours after injury)

 

Avoid further HARM

Avoid HARM in the first few days after an injury:

  • HEAT: Any kind of heat will speed up the circulation, resulting in more swelling and a longer recovery.
  • ALCOHOL: Alcohol can increase swelling, causing a longer recovery.
  • RUNNING OR OTHER EXCESSIVE EXERCISE: Exercising too early can cause further damage to the injured part. Exercise also increases the blood-flow, resulting in more swelling.
  • MASSAGE: Massage increases swelling and bleeding into the tissue, prolonging recovery time.

 

Regular rehabilitation:

  • Unless instructed otherwise by a clinician, the dance should follow regular rehabilitation protocol when they have recovered and swelling/pain has gone.
  • Contrast (alternating heat/ice) has not been shown to reduce swelling.
  • Use cryokinetics: the dancer should apply ice for 10 minutes, take it off and gently flex and extend the joints for 10 minutes, then apply ice for another 10 minutes to increase blood flow. Note, icing can decrease muscle force production, so this should be performed AFTER physical activity (NOT before)
  • Elevate the legs for 10-15 minutes after class/rehearsal.
  • Restore proprioception: Injury can change proprioception/motor planning, leading to decreaded balance and stability.
  • Maintain fitness: address cardiovascular fitness and strength in ways that do not aggrevate the injury (e.g. swimming, bike etc)
  • Nutrition folowing injury: Ensure the correct balance of carbohydrates, fats, protein, micronutrients, and fluid, to help facilitate healing.

 

Recommended reading:

IADMS First Aid for Dancers Resource Paper: https://www.iadms.org/page/290 first_aid

Quin, E., Rafferty, S., Tomlinson, C. (2015) Safe Dance Practice. Leeds: Human Kinetics.

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