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Dancing on Dangerous Ground

The Dangers of improper flooring

Safe and unsafe flooring.

Irish dancing, unlike Ballet and the mainstream dance forms, is often taught in “borrowed space”. Meaning it does not take place in an environment designed for dancing. Church basements, Club halls, School Gymnasiums and Cafeterias are common homes to Irish dance classes. The problem with these spaces is that many are not suitable for dancing when it comes to safety and performance.

Dancing on unsafe surfaces is far more dangerous than many realize. Proper dance floors are designed to give under pressure and absorb a great deal of stress that otherwise would be focused on the dancers body.

In addition, proper flooring is designed to provide enough grip to reduce slipping. Many surfaces, like tile, are simply not appropriate for dancing. Falls resulting from slick flooring often result in broken arms, hands and skulls! This is especialy true when combined with a hard sub-floor like concrete.

Concrete does not allow for shock absorption and can cause short and long term injury to dancers feet and legs. The likelyhood of such injuries are far more likely than on proper floors. Our studies found that 8 out of 10 dance related injuries result from improper flooring. Body weight was a consideration with injuries lower as students weight decreased to below 70 pounds. (Over concrete)

On properly sprung flooring, not only did injuries reduce by 90%, but of these injuries, only 1 in 10 could be attributed to flooring.

Improper flooring comes in many forms including Anything covering a slab of concrete. This includes, carpet, tile or any other floor covering. Even a layer of wood directly over concrete provides no real benefit over bare concrete.

What most teachers and students overlook is the "unintended use" of improper flooring. Irish dancers are prone to slipping and falling. Injuries sustained to the head and bones are far more sever on hard surfaces than on a properly sprung floor.

Think of it like this. Any outdoor activity that your child does over concrete probably uses special equipment like a helmet or joint pads.

A fall that can result in a fracture or severe concussion over concrete would probably be harmless on a sprung floor.

Poor Remedies.

A common remedy that is gaining popularity is to require students to wear “Dance Sneakers” when dancing on hard surfaces.

The problem is that the rubber soles, like covered concrete, provide no real benefit over dancing in proper Irish dance shoes. Dancers feel more protected and may actually add to their potential for injury by dancing harder than they would otherwise.

Shoe selection has no affect on the situation because, while the shoe provides a thin layer of shock absorbent rubber, it can not provide the flex necessary to absorb stress in the legs as the body lands with each hop. Nor can it protect the body in a fall.

There is only one remedy for a bad floor. Get a new floor

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