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Am I Really Injured? 4 Questions Irish Dancers Should Ask

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Claire Plummer is a Physical Therapist, Athletic Trainer, and T.C.R.G. through An Coimisiun le Rinci Gaelacha. She is dedicated to optimal health, wellness, and injury prevention in Irish Dancers of all levels and ages. Claire can be contacted here, and she loves to hear your questions and comments!

At some point in every Irish dancer’s career, you’ll be going through your steps, on stage, in class, or in a workshop, and something will start to hurt. Often, the pain lasts only an instant, but sometimes it lingers, or gets worse every time you dance. You’ve been working hard, and want to practice your new set dance, to move up a level this feis season, or reach your goal at a major championship, BUT IT HURTS! So what do you do?

When something starts to hurt, there are a few questions to ask first:


Dancing is a lot of work, and it is normal for little aches and pains to come and go, but if the same problem has been happening for two weeks, it’s time to have it checked. This is a sign that your body isn’t taking care of things on it’s own, and it may need extra medical attention.


Normal muscle soreness will feel better after a good warm-up, but an injury will feel worse with more dancing, and it will linger after class, or even into the next day.


Feeling pain on bones or tendons, especially with jumping is very concerning. This could indicate tendinitis, muscle strains, or a stress fracture. If you see swelling or bruising, tell someone immediately. This means there is an active injury in that area.


If the pain burns like muscle fatigue, or it pulls like a stretch, you shouldn’t worry too much. If the pain is sharp, shooting, stabbing, aching, throbbing, or just doesn’t feel right, make sure you have it checked by a physical therapist, physician, or athletic trainer.

Screen shot 2014-03-31 at 11.45.50 AMMany things in Irish Dancing can cause discomfort that is not necessarily an injury. Before anything else, make sure that the pain isn’t something you can fix by re-tying shoes, adjusting socks, covering a blister, or warming up a little more. If none of these things fix the pain, then ask yourself the questions above.

If you’ve asked yourself these questions, and you think you may be injured, what do you do next? Tell someone! Parents, teachers, physical therapist, athletic trainer, or a physician are all people that are willing to help you stay healthy. It is always okay to tell someone when you are concerned about an injury. The faster you tell someone, the faster it can be taken care of, and it shows that you are proactive and dedicated to dancing to the best of your ability.

When things start to hurt while you’re dancing, it can be easy to ignore it until it becomes a huge problem that forces you to miss classes, feiseanna, and championships, but knowing the difference between temporary aches and pains and a true injury can help you stay healthy. In dancing, your body is your instrument – take care of it!

Photo credit: Flickr User Adam Baker

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