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By Jennifer Stahl
For dancers, feeling tight, achy, sore or tender is just part of daily life. It's not a question of whether you're in hurting, it's how much and where.
But there are certain kinds of pain you should never ignore. This week, the hip preservation specialists at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center warned of a frightening new phenomenon: More and more young athletes—particularly dancers—are developing femoral acetabular impingement, or FAI. It happens when the ball of the femur doesn't fit correctly into your hip socket, either because the bone is misshapen, it's developed spurs over time or the socket's cartilage gets damaged by activities like too many développés. Symptoms include pain in the lower back, groin, side of the hip and glutes.
If that sounds like what you're experiencing, see a doctor—by catching it early you can avoid surgery. But your best line of defense against developing it in the first place is cross-training regularly to strengthen your core and even out your hip muscles. Whether it's swimming, Pilates or biking, practicing motions you don't do regularly in dance class can save you from over-stressing the same muscles.