Dance Well, Live Well

Wellness blog for dance medicine, holistic health, and more

Repost from Feb 2021

Pain is NOT the Problem

So you've just finished class and your foot hurts. You're not sure what to do about it, so you "Google it" and come across the RICE principle (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevate). You do that and take a few ibuprofen because you know that reduces pain and swelling. By class the next day your pain is gone so you go ahead and take class. The next morning your foot is hurting again.

This cycle continues for a couple of weeks so you decide to go to the doctor. X-rays are negative, you're pretty sure nothing is broken. You get a prescription for 800mg ibuprofen and are advised to "take 2 weeks off from dance." You're disappointed because you know that class and rehearsals are mandatory, but you comply because you want to get better. You attend all of your classes and rehearsals to observe only and take the ibuprofen and for two weeks.

At the end of the two weeks your foot is feeling back to normal and you're excited just to get back in the studio. You return to classes. You don't "take it easy", but you don't go "110%" either. But at the end of the night guess what? Your foot hurts again!

Now you really don't know what to do. You start taking your ibuprofen before class thinking that will prevent your pain after class. You're desperate to get rid of this pain. You notice when you take ibuprofen before class the pain doesn't go completely away, but it's definitely much less, so you decide to do that before each evening of classes. It's been like this for a few months now - the pain comes back once in a while, but that's usually when you haven't taken anything before class. As long as you take something before class, you're pretty good.

Sound familiar?

This scenario is all too familiar to me when working with my clients.

Many times dancers focus so much on pain that they are missing the bigger picture:


The pain is a sign that something isn't quite right, but getting rid of the pain doesn't mean that the problem is "fixed." Pain is the body's way of telling you something is wrong. If the problem isn't identified and addressed, pain will continue and will typically worsen, and the problem will worsen right along with it.


Dancers, parents and instructors should invest in locating health care professionals who have experience working with dance or sports related injuries. The good news is that physical therapists specialize in movement based injuries, so they are an excellent place to start in terms of locating someone who might be able to help!
Side note: AZDM offers virtual consultations for those outside of the Phoenix area. We also have a database of practitioners nationwide who specialize in dance and sports injuries. If you need help contact us!

Many times medical doctors don't have an appreciation for how dancers move, their rigorous schedules, or the culture of "being replaced," so in the absence of a fracture it's common for them to recommend rest and medication following injury. It' similar to their philosophy of "do no harm." Also, many doctors don't know what physical therapists do and that we specialize in movement based injuries and musculoskeletal pain. So a doctor may not be the most appropriate health care professional that a dancer should seek when in pain. (Although there are tons of great MDs out there!)


AZDM answers the call for dance and sports related pain and injuries. We often reduce pain and the cause during your first session and keep it from coming back! We also educate on how to manage following injury and how to keep pain and future injuries from occurring.


Contact us if you are experiencing or doing the following:

Pain that hasn't gone away in over a week
Difficulty walking or walking different than usual
Using pain control methods BEFORE class to avoid pain (tiger balm, cream, pills, ace wraps, taping)
Your doctor told you to "rest" from dance
You have questions about your pain or injury and can't get a straight answer

We will do our best to get you back to dancing quickly and safely!


Dr. Alexis : )

Questions?  Message us at

As always, know that we can help and we are here for you. 
Our mission is to help everyone who reaches out to us live their most amazing life. 
But we can't help, if you don't let us know you need us.  We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Not a dancer?  No problem.  We can help you too. Click HERE.

AZ Dance Medicine Specialists | 602.730.4159