Health & Body

It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).

But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.

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Advice for Dancers
Stock Snap

I injured my foot in class after 10 relaxing days on the beach. I thought vacations were the way to deal with burnout. What am I missing?

—Confused, New York, NY

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Advice for Dancers
Getty Images

I've been on a crying jag since I sprained my ankle for the third time. It kills me that I can't dance my favorite roles. I'm also disgusted with myself for being a crybaby.

—Maggy, Philadelphia, PA

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Health & Body
Cristian Newman/Unsplash

Have you ever consciously danced through pain? Or watched colleagues do it? The answer is most likely, "yes." Dancers are notorious for forcing themselves to keep dancing, no matter what.

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Advice for Dancers
Stepping back when you're injured doesn't mean you've failed as a dancer. Stocksnap

I feel like a failure because I canceled a big competition after getting injured. I'd hoped that ending up in the finals might get me a position in a company. Now what?

—Devon, Washington, DC

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Health & Body
Recovery doesn't always follow your ideal timeline. Photo by Jairo Alzate/Unsplash

You've rested and rehabilitated. But what if an injury still bothers you? Health-care professionals share eight reasons dancers might heal more slowly than expected.

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Career Advice
A successful career takes more than great technique. Photo by Thinkstock

Since its founding in 1999, more than 80,000 ballet dancers have participated in Youth America Grand Prix events. While more than 450 alumni are currently dancing in companies across the world, the vast majority—tens of thousands—never turn that professional corner. And these are just the statistics from one competition.

"You may have the best teacher in the world and the best work ethic and be so committed, and still not make it," says YAGP founder Larissa Saveliev. "I have seen so many extremely talented dancers end up not having enough moti­vation and mental strength, not having the right body type, not getting into the right company at the right time or getting injured at the wrong moment. You need so many factors, and some of these are out of your hands."

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Health & Body
Give your partner space to process their own emotions about the injury. Photo via Thinkstock

Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers Chris­topher McDaniel and Crystal Serrano were working on Nacho Duato's Coming Together in rehearsal when McDaniel's foot hit a slippery spot on the marley. As they attempted a swinging lift, both dancers went tumbling, injuring Serrano as they fell. She ended up being out for a week with a badly bruised knee.

"I immediately felt, This is my fault," says McDaniel. "I broke my friend."

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Advice for Dancers
When recovering from injury, walking too much in a boot may result in a bone bruise. Photo by Jeffrey Wegrzyn on Unsplash.

How could I get a bone bruise from wearing a boot for a stress fracture in my fifth metatarsal? It's taking forever to go away, and I can't dance full-out. Help!

—Anonymous, New York, NY

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Dancers Trending
PC Erik Tomasson, courtesy San Francisco Ballet

Since the beginning, when I first started dancing at 6 years old, I loved it. I never really thought of the hard work and long hours as a sacrifice because ballet always brought me joy and happiness.

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Dancer Voices
Emily Ramirez as "Meg Giry" in The Phantom of the Opera. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

I always knew my ballet career would eventually end. It was implied from the very start that at some point I would be too old and decrepit to take morning ballet class, followed by six hours of intense rehearsals.

What I never imagined was that I would experience a time when I couldn't walk at all.

In rehearsal for Nutcracker in 2013, I slipped while pushing off for a fouetté sauté, instantly rupturing the ACL in my right knee. In that moment my dance life flashed before my eyes.

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Health & Body
Thinkstock

When dancers get injured, they often think they should eat less. The thought process goes something like, Since I'm not able to move as much as I usually do, I'm not burning enough calories to justify the portions I'm used to.

But the truth is, scaling back your meals could actually be detrimental to your healing process.

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Health & Body
Photo by Nathan Sayers, modeled by Gabrielle Sprauve of Marymount Manhattan College.

Injuries occur in dance frequently. Numerous studies show that at any given time, 40 to 95 percent of the dancers in a given studio or company are injured. This is not news to anyone. But how many times have you been told your injury is because of "overuse"? Doctors use this term often when dancers have pain that comes without any specific injury.

I think It's time to re-evaluate this word, especially in the dance world. Calling injuries "overuse" may actually be harmful.

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Health & Body

Few things are most frustrating than arriving at your summer intensive full of excitement—only to get injured, stuck sitting out on the sidelines and missing out on the experience you signed up for.

To help you avoid this disappointment, we tapped Daniel Cuttica, D.O., an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon with The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics and consultant to The Washington Ballet, for expert advice on how to keep your body healthy, safe and injury-free this summer.

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Advice for Dancers

I was just given a bone stimulator to help my stress fracture heal. The problem is, I can't dance while I'm using it. Will it really help, and why can't I do both?

—Cracked Tibia, Philadelphia, PA

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