The Root of Dance Injuries

Did you know that among Dr. Lee’s many accomplishments, including being able to remember AC/DC lyrics till this day and besides being a Harford County Chiropractor extraordinaire; he is a member of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Sciences and will soon become a NYU Medical School recognized dance injury specialist? Like they say, if you can’t do it, might as well treat the ones who can when they get injured. Or something like that.

The root of all dance injuries is Energy Intake.  This is not exclusive to dancers. Gymnasts and all female athletes would qualify.  Female athletes do not consume enough calories.  The average adolescent female dancer/athlete needs 2500 calories per day. However, most female athletes will actually only consume 60-80% of that, and dancers/gymnasts another 15% less. Why? Dancers and gymnasts usually have a fear of weight and how it looks and affects their performance.  All athletes it’s because of lack of education.

The body considers dance and athletic performance to be discretionary calories. Not only do the girls not eat enough, they usually don’t eat the right stuff. The body uses all the consumed calories to fuel physical and pubescent growth first. Fueling for Dance and other athletic activity comes second.  Imagine this: you have 3, 1-gallon buckets and only a 2 gallon pitcher. You can’t fill them all. From here a downward spiral ensues with puberty, growth and athleticism all draining from each other, not only robbing the athlete of her ability and potential, but making her more and more disposed to injury.

What should the girls be eating? Not the 5 C’s of the single girl diet (Coffee, Cigarettes, Chocolate, diet Coke and Cheese).  There is a popular myth that salads are healthy.  While they are a better choice than a big Mac, a ”salad “is not always the healthy choice.  Iceberg lettuce with ranch is about as healthy as notebook paper with fatty wax. A salad made from leafy greens, spinach, other veggies, and a protein, with little or no dressing is a great choice.  Protein tends to be the most deficient in the female athlete and should be the number one priority when choosing foods.  Protein runs dual purpose, fuel and structure. Bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments are all made from protein. A person can eat enough protein to fuel the body, but not enough to fuel and build. So we need plenty.

Your 30 second nutrition tip:  My #1 recommendation is eggs; especially cage-free, high Omega 3 eggs. Egg whites are a near perfect protein and the yolks are high in anti-inflammatory and calorie dense Omega fatty acids. Other good sources of protein are wild-caught fish and seafood, free-grazed meats and if not available leaner-cuts of store bought meats. Luncheon meats don’t count! Neither do fish sticks. Cheese is a condiment, not an entrée. Yogurt is in a grey area. Depends on the source, the production, and what they add to make it taste good. There are many good sources of calories that come with built-in vitamins called fruits and vegetables. French fries are not veggies, ketchup is not fruit. Real nutrition is a 45 minute Power Point presentation. For real, I’ve got one, I’ve presented it.

Real Life: Many of you know I have three teen/pre-teen dancers.  We have a very strict you don’t eat you don’t dance policy in our house.  So I understand how hard it is to feed them.  We are very organized when we shop and when we plan our pre- and post-dance meals.  Tip:  Our girls eat a small protein filled dinner prior to practice (right afterschool) and again after practice each day.

Even with nutrition and training, injuries happen. That’s why local athletes and dancers turn to us for spine and rehab care. We are the top chiropractor, massage clinic, acupuncture clinic, physical therapy clinic in Bel Air, Churchville, Abingdon, Edgewood and beyond in Harford County.