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Irish Dance Injuries

Injuries are on my mind.

My daughter was dancing across living room last Friday evening when she jammed her thumb into the back of a couch. There was an audible crack, followed by a scream and tears. When it swelled up and turned purple, off to the doctor we went. As we were waiting for the doctor, we were joking that, as an Irish dancer, it is a good thing it was her thumb and not her feet. Four x-rays later, her thumb is not broken, but does have a pretty nasty sprain.

Today, the booster club for her Irish dance school announced an injury prevention clinic. I am a firm believer in signs, and I get the feeling I am supposed to thinking about injuries.

As I was searching today, I found a great site, MedGym.net, with a lot of very useful information.

Plantar Fasciitis

I had no idea that plantar fasciitis was the most common Irish dance injury. Plantar Fasciitis is caused when the ligament that supports the arch of the foot is strained. According to SportsInjury.net, the “symptoms of plantar fasciitis consist of a gradual onset of pain under the heel which may radiate forwards into the foot (foot arch pain). There may be tenderness under the sole of the foot and on the inside of the heel when pressing in. The pain can range from being slightly uncomfortable to very painful depending on how badly it is damaged.”

How to Avoid Plantar Fasciitis

There are a number of exercises you can use to help avoid Plantar Fasciitis. The video below shows some good ones. He even refers to “dancing a jig.”

Shin Splints

Shin splints are another very common injury among Irish dancers. Shin splints often occur from overuse of muscles. Pain is usually felt along the front of the leg from the knee down to the ankle.

How to Avoid Shin Splints

There are also a number of exercises to help avoid and relieve shin splints. The video below may help.

Dancing through Shin Splints and Plantar Fasciitis

If you are suffering with plantar fasciitis, one trick is to use a frozen bottle of water to roll your feet over gently. Doing this just prior to, and in between dances, may help to relieve the pain. Many dancers use a Muscle Roller Stick to help loosen those tight muscles, both for plantar fasciitis and shin splints. Dancers with shin splints may find help in using a Calf Compression Sleeve.

Irish dance is a tough sport. Injuries are almost inevitable if you stay with it long enough. I hope these tips and tricks will help you stay on your toes!