Injuries of the Hip

            “There are three steps you have to complete to become a professional dancer: learn to dance, learn to perform, and learn how to cope with injuries.” - D. Gere

 The most common hip injuries among dancers are muscle strains, tendonitis, and bursitis.

            Dancers tend to have muscular imbalances because they repeat the same exercises and use the same muscles in the same ways over and over again.  These imbalances lead to tightness in certain muscle groups.  Tight muscles are susceptible to injury since they have a limited range of motion.  As a result, dancers often strain their hamstrings. 

            The hamstrings run along the back of the thigh and are responsible for extending the hip joint and flexing the knee.  As with all injuries, the dancer should rest the leg and use ice and anti-inflammatories to reduce pain and swelling.  Once healing begins, gentle stretching and rolling the injured area with a tennis ball or foam roller will help with scar tissue tightness and rehabilitation.
            Tendonitis refers to the irritation and inflammation of any of the tendons that connect the muscles at the hip joint.  Tendonitis manifests itself as pain around the joint and develops gradually.  At the onset, the pain will lessen, or even disappear,  when the dancer is moving but will increase afterward.  Eventually, the pain will become constant and radiate to the knee and/or lower back.  The dancer will feel stiff and tight in the morning or after dancing and moving, and stretching will be uncomfortable.  Rest, ice, and anti-inflammatories will lessen the swelling and irritation and help to alleviate the discomfort.  Being sure to warm up the area completely before dancing will help as well. 

            Tendonitis is usually caused by muscular imbalances and/or alignment issues that place stress on certain areas of the hip.  When exercises are repeated over and over again while the body is misaligned and not working correctly, the tendons become irritated and inflamed.  A physical therapist who knows about dance can help determine the cause and help to correct alignment issues and/or suggest cross-training exercises to help with imbalances so the tendonitis does not keep recurring.

            Another condition that can be caused by muscular imbalances and/or misalignment in the body is bursitis.  Bursae are tiny fluid-filled sacs that help prevent and reduce friction at joints where body parts are constantly moving against each other.  The most common type of bursitis is trochanteric bursitis, which occurs on the outside of the hip. 

stretch for IT band
gluteal stretch
            Dancers with this condition complain of pain on the outside of the hip when lying down or when pressure is applied to the area.  This pain increases during activity and is felt especially when walking up stairs.  Stretching the iliotibialband or a stretch of the gluteal muscles, which tend to be tight in dancers, may help relieve pressure on the bursa. 

            Bursitis can also be caused by trauma to the hip.  A fall in which the hip collides with the floor can irritate the bursa sac and cause a painful inflammation.  Ice and anti-inflammatories will help with the pain and irritation.  If the attack of bursitis cannot be traced to a specific trauma, then a physical therapist should be consulted to determine the cause of the condition and help correct it.


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  2. I've been dancing for years, and it's really hard to cope with the injuries. You must have a trusted orthopedist at your side to guide you in the whole process. Thanks for your post! I know our co-dancers, as well as aspiring dancers, can be well-informed about the injuries that can be experienced while pursuing their dancing careers. :)

    Sienna @