Dr. Stu Steinman practices sports medicine at Connecticut’s Westsports Medicine, where he addresses a variety of musculoskeletal injuries. Dr. Stu Steinman recently shared his expertise as the keynote speaker at Dance Teacher Web’s international meeting, where he spoke on injury prevention for dancers.
Whenever a dancer lands from a jump or a leap, the knee absorbs close to 300 percent of the body weight. This stress occurs in addition to any torqueing that occurs as a result of improper leg twisting and contributes to the risk of knee injuries among dancers.
One of the most common such injuries is patellofemoral syndrome, which causes pain at the front of the patella and down the sides of the lower femur. It is an overuse injury that is exacerbated when the knee is improperly aligned in turnout. When the quadriceps fail to send the knee directly over the foot, the kneecap shifts laterally as rotation pulls it toward the outside of the joint.
Dancers can guard against this misalignment by engaging in frequent jump training, both when the body is energized and when it is tired. This is a standard part of most dancers’ education and practice, though conscientious attention to form in jump work can help correct alignment.