Avoiding Occupational Injuries as an Exotic Dancer, Part 1

As many dancers know, exotic dancing or stripping can take its toll on the skin, muscles, joints, and tendons of the dancer. Especially for female performers, occupational injuries are common and remain largely unaddressed by employers.
Here are a few simple ways to improve your dancing experience and help maintain your health and wellness while working as an exotic dancer. A little preparation today could save you years of pain long after you’ve left the profession.

1. Talk to your employer about ways to pad or cushion areas of the dance space floor.
Of all the occupational injuries reported by dancers, knee injuries and chronic knee pain are the most common. Because we spend so much time extending and rotating that joint on a hard, uncovered surface while using it to support a great deal of our body weight, the joint undergoes a great deal of stress in the course of just one evening.
Many club managers are receptive to the idea of padding areas of the dance space, especially those areas where most dancers are likely to do “floor work.” You can use rubber floor mats or yoga mats to shield your knees during this part of your dance routine, and most customers will never notice. Also, remind your manager that the most he or she protects the dancers’ knees, the less pain they will experience on the job, the better and more high-energy the performances will be, and the longer those dancers will be able to perform.

2. Thigh-high boots: a dancer’s version of the hardhat.
Your adoring customers may never guess it, but those thigh-high stiletto boots can be your best friend on the job. When pole work is bruising your thighs and shins, when tights straps and hours of dancing have blistered your feet, and when floor work is bruising your knees and making them ache, these boots can be a true lifesaver.
Many dancers will wear multiple layers of long, thick, cotton sports socks under these boots, providing a comfortable cushion for aching feet. For those experiencing joint pain, the high leg is a great cover-up for Ace bandages wrapped around sore knees or ankles. And don’t forget, under all these layers, you can feel free to slather on any kind of ointment that will help you survive the night, be that Ben Gay, Icy Hot, Tiger Balm, or even something as simple as lotion or Vaseline.

3. Stay on your feet.
One mistake that many novice dancers make is simply working harder than they need to. Instead, work smarter. Watch the more experienced dancers. They have great energy and charisma, but they’re not expending nearly as much energy as someone who just entered the profession. On average, they spend much less time on their knees, getting on the floor and rising again. Take a cue from those who’ve been in the business a while, and keep the majority of your routine vertical. Constantly lowering and raising yourself from the dance floor will take a terrible toll on your joints, especially your knees. Stay on your feet as much as possible to avoid these repetitive-stress injuries.

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