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Physical Therapy – An Irish Dancer’s Best Friend


Erin is a 20-something Irish dancer competing in the Southern Region with Nashville Irish Step Dancers. She splits her time between dance and her career in social media marketing. Her favorite part of dancing is meeting new & inspiring people. Connect with her on Twitter @erinforevr.

Dancers are no strangers to pain. Injuries are as common in the dance world as blisters. But, too often those injuries can be prevented.

Too many of us have heard the sympathetic “I told you so” from our teacher after an injury. That’s because many injuries are a result of weaknesses in our muscles or joints that went unattended for too long. When your teacher nags that your dancing would be so much better if you strengthened your ankles or increased hip flexibility, there’s something to that!

The things that are holding you back from executing a step flawlessly may also be the early causes of an injury.

That’s where physical therapy comes in.

Often, PT is thought of as something you do only after a surgery or serious injury. But in fact it can be extremely helpful for ensuring proper recovery from minor injuries, preventing injuries, and even improving your dancing!

Physical therapists will be able to evaluate injuries and probable weakness that are causing possible compensation and overuse injuries. Therapist will then create an individualized program in order to address specific needs. – Matt V. Provenzano PT, DPT, CET, TPI-CGFI.

Whether it’s weak hamstrings, hip imbalances, or bad knees, we all have that one thing that’s been holding us back. I’ve seen teachers refer dancers to a physical therapist for just such issues.

After a few weeks of PT those dancers improved remarkably. Lifts were higher, leaps landed cleaner, and cuts sharper.

Above all, dancers who seek PT for their imbalances and pains early-on may save themselves the heartache of injury later.

Getting that extra height on your overs AND avoiding a sprained ankle can be as simple as strengthening your glutes. But you won’t know until you go see a pro.

My own experience with physical therapy has been life changing. It has gotten me back dancing when I never thought I could, and kept me dancing years longer than I’d ever hoped!

So, dancers – if you feel any recurring discomfort or are struggling with physical inability to execute certain steps, I urge you to give physical therapy a shot.

After all, anything we can do to keep us injury-free and strong on stage is well worth it, right?


Photo credit: Image is courtesy of and belongs to author.

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  1. I just bought some CEP sleeves to help with my shin splints (the off-brand ones didn’t last too long, hahaha). I noticed even with the cheap ones that I had marked improvement in the pain, but that they kept coming back. Fortunately I just got a script from a sports med doctor to go see a physical therapist- I need to get to the root of this injury so that I can get back to dancing without pain!

    • Molly – The CEP sleeves are great for recovery and they can definitely help relieve some of the pressure and pain while dancing (I wear mine during and after a class). But, the sleeves won’t cure shin splints. Unfortunately the splints, especially severe ones, are usually resulting from a weakness or tightness elsewhere in the body – like feet, ankle, or hip issues.
      Seeing a Physical therapist is the way to go! They will, as you said, help you get to the root of the issue and give you strength and flexibility exercises.
      In the meantime, I find that rubbing Icy Hot on your shines can really help, (or other muscle & joint creams) and make sure you are icing your shins after every time you dance! Good luck!

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