Stress fractures are caused by repetitive impact to the bones of the feet. This injury is very common for Irish dancing competitors of all ages but know that Irish dancing is not the issue, you are.
Dancing, skipping and jumping on hard surfaces, increasing the intensity of your training too quickly or training a body that is fatigued and can no longer absorb the impact, I find are the common reasons why Irish dancer’s experience stress fractures.
A stress fracture commonly occurs in the metatarsals but they can be found in any bone of the foot. If there is a weak point in a bone from a previous injury, this can lead to stress fractures under normal stress conditions such as walking.
Signs and Symptoms
- Experiencing pain, swelling or bruising
- You are finding it difficult to apply weight to the area (walking)
- Loss of foot function
If you are experiencing any of the above or all of the above I would advise you to see a health professional.
If you do not attend to a stress fracture, then this can lead to a full break of the bone.
Why am I responsible?
As an Irish dancer, I was very active and I took part in other sports. I trained regularly and followed a healthy nutrition plan which meant that my body was getting the fuel that it needed to speed up recovery between sessions and I had the strength and fitness needed to endure all of my training and practice sessions.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but Irish Dancing has risen to another level compared to 10 years ago. Starting off as a beginner, all is great but when you reach that high level of performance Irish dancing is a different story. As a dancer, as a teacher, as a parent and myself as a therapist and strength & conditioning coach who specializes in Irish dancing it is our job to work together to ensure that you, your student or your child is strong, healthy and injury free. If you or your child is constantly experiencing injuries, then they are not going to be able to enjoy the thing which they love most, Irish Dancing! Its that simple.
We know what is asked of Irish dancers, we know how hard they need to work, we know what is involved so don’t ignore it. Some dancers are much stronger and fitter than others and may avoid injury throughout their whole dancing career without introducing a specific training plan. BUT that does not mean that you can do the same, everyone is different!
The only way that you can lessen your chances of injury such as stress fractures is by making sure that you are following a specific program suited to you.
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I would advise you to see a health professional straight away. Introducing natural anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding foods that cause inflammation are also an advantage.
Strengthening the muscles that support the foot will help to lessen the impact. I would advise that you make a full recovery before returning to dance class or any other activity. When you have made full recovery, a slow increase in activity is advised until you are confident and sure that the injury has healed.
If you follow the correct protocol, stress fractures usually heal completely and have no effect on the person in the long-term. Only in severe cases, surgery will be required.
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By Peter O’Grady
The Author of ‘Upping Your Step’. A training book & DVD for Irish dancers.
These products can be found on my website
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