The opinion of the orthopaedics: Omar De Bartolomeo (orthopaedist of the Scala in Milan).
- “Which characteristics should the floor have to reduce the risk of trauma?”
«Whatever the choice of the floor is, you must absolutely consider elasticity. This is the most important element, because the energy that the dancer transmits to the floor and that the floor can not dissipate, goes back to the dancer, and that might cause, in the long run, muscular and sometimes bone injuries due to overwork/overuse. It concerns in fact vibrations that the joints and tendons must dissipate, and also muscular and sometimes bone injuries. Today many companies produce materials studied “ad hoc” for dance schools. They usually choose wood flooring (birch but also other types of wood), in order to ensure absorption of shocks for 60-70%.
The floors are manufactured in pieces and are assembled on site, they are not usually fixed either to the wall or to the floor but installed by “interlocking” in order to guarantee the maximum absorption .
- “What are the most common dancer injuries in case of low shock absorbing floors?”
«As concerns tendons the most affected parts are usually the ones of foot, ankle (Achilles tendon, posterior tibial and peroneal bone) and leg (patella and quadricepts tendinitis).In fact the technical gesture most interesting is the landing from the jump. As far as the muscular lesions are concerned, the suffering area regards the quadricepts the surals, the muscles of the trunk. These injuries usually recover with proper rest , stretching practices and physiotherapy care, but note that also a proper muscular preparation can reduce the risk of incurring these injuries. It is important to avoid technical errors, for example in the preparatory phase of jump or landing, and to pay attention to the movement of the foot, and choice of shoes (ballet or contemporary shoe), to the alignment of the knee and/or the pelvis. Also good prevention with athletic preparation, isometric and eccentric exercises will help to improve distensibility of muscles».
- “And also bone injuries are involved?”
«Yes, especially periostitis and stress fractures. These are usually caused by the combination of several factors: low body weight, type and frequency of training, periodicity of menstrual flows, skeletal conformation, etc. Also in this case, the floor is an important factor as it would focus the reactions of the floor in some isolated parts of the body, causing mechanical overload and therefore the injuries. Again in this case, good prevention and athletic preparation help to prevent and of course to cure».