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Pain, when do I need to see a professional?

Niggling pain, that two days later grows into a full on pain that obstructs normal functioning for a dancer. Injury is a friend that every dancer do not like but kept visiting. It is unwise to ignore a friend like that. On the contrary, this friend (injury) requires full attention, care and love.

Dancers’ high tolerance toward pain, in a way has made every dance practitioners a “tough cookie”. It does however come at a high price. Immunity towards bodily aches, or generalisation of pain and the failure of recognising ones that needs attention before they get blown out of proportion and into long-term or worse yet, permanent injury. Here are some tips when you have a friend like that—an injury.

When do I seek for professional help?

  1. Pain is waking you up at night.

  2. Pain is present at the start of an activity.

  3. Pain that increases with an activity

  4. Pain that makes you shift your weight or otherwise compensate your movements.

What is considered professional help?

  1. A professional should have a recognised qualification such as a basic degree in science. It is ok to ask your therapist where they receive their training from.

  2. A professional should be able to pinpoint the root cause of your pain.

  3. A professional should be able relief your pain eventually if not immediately.

  4. A professional should advice on preventive measures, such as strengthening or conditioning exercises that can change your lifestyle habits leading to the pain.

What about alternative medicine?

  1. Alternative medicine could be useful. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)—acupuncture and chiropractor are some common go-to places by dancers.

  2. Alternative medicine however does not guarantee finding a root cause. And to be able to nip the bud, preventing the same injury, it is important to know the cause. Hence, be sure to find out what causes the injury before seeking alternative medicine.

  3. Alternative medicine treats your symptoms, which is the pain. For example, if you have a slightly dislocated spine, a chiropractor corrects it, often without addressing why it was dislocated in the first place (some chiropractor might though).

Rule of thumb, stop focusing on eliminating pain, and start focusing on why the pain begin in the first place. Perhaps, some lifestyle changes are necessary (no more cross-legged sitting, consciously putting your weight on the left, instead of unconsciously on the right). Accidents and injuries are unpredictable, but by understanding your own musculature habits and changing them, you learn also to become stronger and move with more confidence and ease. A strong and smart dancer is not born, but comes with effort and hardwork. Remember that dancing in pain is not normal, any pain is the body screaming for help. Take care of your instrument and it will serve you and bring you freedom and confidence in movements.



John Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Articles and answers, ask the expert: Common dance injuries and prevention tips. Retrieved from

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