Four Common Knee Problems for Dancers
As part of “The Healthy Dancer” Fall 2019, please contact us if you want a copy sent to your dance organization, studio, or team.
Dancers train for the perfect splits, amazing turnout, powerful jumps, high kicks, and quick turns making knee pain common for dancers. Some knee injuries can be very serious and require medical intervention. Other knee problems can be managed or avoided with proper technique and training.
Knee hyperextension occurs when the knees pass straight and begin to bend the other direction. This is common practice for dancers because it can make for longer, cleaner lines, however, it can cause strain and injury. Dancers should first focus on proper technique without gripping the quadriceps muscles. Think of lengthening instead of locking the knees. Remember that each body is different and it is important to find your healthy neutral.
Forcing turn-out will apply pressure on your inner knees. Focus on hip flexibility. Make sure you are not rolling in on your feet and that your knees are over your toes when you plie or land a jump. When you are not dancing, do not walk around with your legs turned out ( Be sure you are not walking like a duck.)
This pain will be immediate. Any serious fall should be iced immediately and examined by a professional for proper diagnosis to rule out meniscus and ligament tears that may require surgery, especially if there was twisting, overextension, or a popping sound. You may need to take time off for healing.
To avoid falls, train at your level and takes breaks when needed to avoid exhaustion. If choreography requires falling onto knees, wear knee pads if possible.
Muscle imbalance can cause knee pain anywhere around the knee, but is most likely to cause patellofemoral pain just below the knee cap. This pain will occur overtime and worsen with exercise and is caused by over developed quads and overstretched hamstrings . Be sure to stretch quads and hip flexors in a parallel stance daily.