Health Beat: The injury prevention dance: Tips from the pros

Health Beat: The injury prevention dance: Tips from the pros

CHICAGO - To stay healthy, we're taught to lead an active lifestyle, but taking up a new sport or activity could put you at risk for injury.

The risk is even higher when you're a professional dancer. So how do they keep performing? The pros at the world-renowned Joffrey Ballet shares some tips.

Ask dancer Anastacia Holden what attracts her to ballet and she'll tell you.

"There was nothing else that I liked to do more," Holden said.

The physical demands on her body, however, can take a toll.

"I jump from the lower leg, which means that I overstress those lower muscles," Holden said.

Fellow Joffrey dancer Matthew Adamczyk shares Anastacia's pain. He has broken his ankle nine times.

"I've gone for rather large jumps and instead of landing flat on my ankle, I would land sideways. The ankle and feet would roll underneath my leg," Adamczyk said.

Athletic trainer Katie Lemmon said repetitive movements can put anyone at risk for overuse injuries.

"It's all about balance of the muscles. A lot of times when we see someone, whether it's a dancer, a general athlete, or any person, I find a lot of the injuries are caused by muscle imbalances," Lemmon said.

To find the balance, incorporate moves that emphasize flexibility and strength.

"That's why I like some of the Pilates-based exercises because they're working on the stability while you're moving your joint through a motion," Lemmon said.

Also, think opposites.

"If you're doing a repetitive movement, where you're all forward, maybe there's some type of movement where you can work the muscles in the back," Lemmon explained.

Mix up your workouts at least once a week.

"I do a lot of biking, swimming, and running," Adamczyk said.

Finally, follow the three-day rule.

"We tell them if something hurts for more than two to three days to come see us or seek medical attention," Lemmon said.

You don't have to be an athlete to incorporate these tips. Even if you're hunched over a computer all day long, you can use the rule of thinking opposites. Try taking breaks and stretching out the front of your shoulder and through your back to help relieve tension and keep your body balanced.

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