Dance Flooring

Dance Flooring
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Dance Flooring: Importance of Proper Dance Flooring: Injury Prevention & Dancer Longevity
Written by Mellilah

Don’t forget to check out the dance flooring before taking dance classes or choosing a studio. Dancing on hard surfaces, like concrete, or dancing on flooring that is too soft, can lead to injury and can even end a dancer’s career.

Dancing on hard floors can produce serious return shock waves, causing premature wear on cartilage and damage to muscles and joints. Basically, there’s no decompression of the surface when your feet hit the floor, so all the force just pounds up into your legs, instead of having some of the force dissipating into a floor that moves a little. In contrast, dancing on a floor that is too soft can cause the muscles and tendons to work harder. A dance floor needs the right about of energy absorption and flexibility, which will differ slightly according to the type of dance/activity.

Educating yourself is the key to your safety. I was just in a gym and noticed that the floor in the aerobics room has a thin wood or faux wood surface directly over concrete. Keep in mind that just because the facility ‘should’ be looking out for your safety, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the case. Sometimes owners are more interested in saving a buck.

Guidelines and Suggestions for Safe Dancing:
~Look for sprung (or semi-sprung) sub-floors, also known as floating floors
~Find out what’s under the surface? Just because you see wood, doesn’t mean it’s safe.
~Avoid dancing on concrete!!
~Avoid squishy surfaces
~Avoid uneven surfaces
~Look for floors that are clean, unpolished, and not waxed
~Ask the teacher or a staff member about the floor
~Carpeted area? Pull up a corner of the carpet and visibly see what is underneath
~Test the floor. Knock on the floor with your knuckles to see how much give it has. Jump on the floor and see if it seems to absorb some of the shock
~Consider the type of dance/exercise you will be doing. The more jumping, bouncing and/or propelling into the air, the better the floor must be. Higher Impact = Better Flooring
~How often will you be dancing on the floor? Increased Frequency = Better Flooring
~If you will be dancing barefoot, you’ll need to avoid abrasive or slippery surfaces
~If you must dance on a hard surface, wear dance sneakers, use good technique, limit duration, and stick with low impact movements

Some Effects of Dancing on Poor Dance Flooring:
Shin splints
Stress fractures
Inflamed ligaments and joints
Joint damage to ankles, knees, and hips
Damage to the spinal vertebrae
Premature wear of cartilage
Damage to muscles
Achilles tendonitis

proper dance flooring
Articles for Further Reading: 
Flooring it: one key to dancing well–and long–is right beneath your feet.
The Facts About Sprung Floors for Dance
Flooring for Dance, Theatre and Performing Arts (Read: What You Need to Know)
National Floor Standard
Wikipedia: Sprung Floor
Dance Floor Expert Tips
How to Keep Feet From Hurting When Dancing

Mellilah is a trained fitness instructor and belly dance performer and instructor. For more info about the author, visit www.mellilah.com

About Mellilah Jamal

Mellilah teaches belly dance classes in Redmond and Bothell and performs for private parties and restaurants throughout Seattle.

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