Moms in Motion: Dance-Related Injuries On The Rise

In competition, the thousands of hours Lindsey Faherty has spent in the dance studio have paid off. She is a two-time regional champion in Irish dance, and will soon compete in her eighth world championship.

But all that success has come at a price.

"I have hip problems, my most recent injury was my upper quad," she said. "I had a sprain there. I have a crack in my big toe from breaking that and never letting it heal."

And Lindsey is not alone. The first study to look at dance-related injuries in children and teenagers is out; and the numbers are climbing.

Researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital analyzed 17 years worth of data and found that the number of dancers making trips to emergency departments is up 37 percent.

"In 2007 alone, over 8,000 children and teens were treated for a dance-related injury," said Kristin Roberts, MS MHP at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "That's about 23 children every day, or almost an injury an hour."

The study found that girls accounted for 86 percent of all injuries; sprains and strains were the most common. And those injured most often were 15 to 19 years old.

That doesn't surprise Eric Leighton. A certified athletic trainer at Nationwide Children's Hospital sports medicine, he helped start one of the few clinics in the country designed specifically for children and teen dancers.

He said the more popular dance gets, the more competitive it is, especially for teenagers.

"So, the moves are getting harder, but their bodies are also becoming taller, longer, heavier,"  Leighton said. "So, some of the impacts can be magnified."

His advice is to get plenty of rest, always stretch and give your body time to heal. And to avoid injuries in the first place, learn proper dance techniques from the start.

The study charted dance injuries treated in emergency departments between 1991 and 2007. Experts said even though they found more than 113,000 injuries, those numbers are only the tip of the iceberg.

Many injuries are treated by coaches or the dancers themselves and are never reported to emergency departments.

For more information, head to www.NationwideChildrens.org and click on "Newsroom."


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