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Dance-Related Injuries Increasing Among Youth Dancers

By guest blogger Gina Cairney

Dance is a mix of artistic expression and athleticism. It's unique in that a performance requires a level of elegant showmanship, but also strength and power found in athletes of sports like soccer and football.

Dance can also have a positive influence on self-esteem in children and adolescents, especially girls. But a new study has found that dance-related injuries increased 37 percent between 1991 and 2007.

During the 17-year study period, published this month in the Journals of Physical Activity and Health, an estimated 113,000 children and adolescents 3 to 19 years old were treated in emergency rooms after sustaining dance-related injuries.

Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, believe the injury rates could be a result of young dancers spending more time training and practicing, according to a press release.

"We encourage children to keep dancing and exercising," Kristin Roberts said in the release, "but it is important that dancers and their instructors take precautions to avoid sustaining injuries."

Four out of 10 dancers injured were between 15 and 19 years old, and classical dance, which includes ballet, jazz, tap, and modern dance, accounted for 55 percent of the injuries. Falls were the most common cause (44.8 percent) of injuries, according to the study.

There is no full-proof method of avoiding dance-related injuries, but dancers and their instructors can take precautionary steps to minimize their risks.

"Staying well-hydrated, properly warming up and cooling down, concentrating on proper technique and getting plenty of rest can help prevent dance-related injuries," Lara McKenzie, the study's senior author said in a statement.

All physical activities, whether it's dance or sports, are not without risk of injury. But if dance can help with a child's psychological, as well as physical, health, then many dancers and their parents may decide the benefits outweigh the risks.

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Videographic from Nationwide Children's Hospital

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