Stage Injuries are More Common Than You Think
Sarasota’s vibrant theater community means an incredible array of performances available to viewers on a regular basis. There’s plenty of opportunities to see ballets, plays, operas, musicals, and more—not to mention plenty of chances for theater enthusiasts to engage in their own performances. Unfortunately, along with those stunning performances comes the potential for injury, both on stage and in the wings. The Bureau of Labor shows that injuries that require time away from performance occur all too frequently: in 2006, there were approximately 870 of these injuries; in 2008, it reached a high of 1,570. If you’re a performer at a Sarasota theater, it’s important to know how to handle the possibility for injury.
Common Theater Injuries
There are some injuries that are almost commonplace for many performers. Dancers and other performers who place high demands on their bodies on a regular basis are familiar with the possibility of stress fractures, ankle sprains, snapping hips, and more. Minor aches and pains, including knee pain, back pain, and other pain in the joints, is considered normal by many performers, and often goes away once they’ve had a chance to warm up. Unfortunately, not every minor ache simply disappears as the day wears on. Performers also experience a wide range of common injuries.
Hearing loss can occur quickly if you’re in a too-noisy environment. In some cases, hearing loss is temporary. In other cases, it may be permanent—especially if it progresses over time. A live orchestra or band can easily produce enough sound to damage your ears.
Sprains and fractures are all too common for many performers. One missed jump or step, tripping over the wrong cord or wire backstage, or a host of other simple accidents can lead to serious injuries—many of which are avoidable. The Bureau of Labor notes that 50 percent of the injuries between 2003 and 2009 were sprains and strains.
Overuse injuries can be more devastating than performers realize. In some cases, they can even prevent performers from being able to continue with their preferred creative expression in the future. Overuse injuries can be caused by excessive practice, too many repetitive motions, or simply by overworking your body on a regular basis.
Avoiding Injury on Stage
As a performer, you know that injuries can mean time off the stage—and if you’ve made your career in the performing arts, that time off can be catastrophic. In the performing arts industry, the median amount of time off work for an injury is around 39 days. In other industries, that number is only eight days. To avoid injury, take these key steps.
Maintain proper nutrition. Make sure that you’re eating well in the days surrounding your performance. Sure, you want to look your best in your costume; but that doesn’t mean that you can afford to starve yourself! Instead, opt for well-balanced meals that will help nourish your body and prepare you for your performance.
Stay hydrated. Bright stage lights, sweaty performers, and busy days: it’s a recipe for disaster where your body’s hydration is concerned. If you’re hoping to avoid injury, however, make sure that you’re staying adequately hydrated, including replacing electrolytes as needed. This simple step can go a long way toward ensuring that you have the energy necessary to properly complete your performance and avoid injury in the process.
Avoid overuse injuries. Stop practicing when you start to feel that familiar burn sharpen. Know your body and your limits—and do your best not to push beyond them. Keep in mind that practicing too hard or for too long won’t improve your performance and that it can, in fact, ultimately detract from it.
Be aware of your body. Check your posture and your positioning, especially when dancing or when sitting for long periods of time, as when playing an instrument. Pay attention to increasing aches and pains both when you’re performing and when you’re not on stage, since those pains are often your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. If you make adjustments when you first start having problems, you’ll be in a better position to prevent further injury.
Take time out to recover. After a show has ended or you’ve completed a new training routine, make sure that you leave time to rest. Allowing your body to recover will help you build strength more effectively over time.
What to Do If You’re Injured on Stage
If you are injured during a performance, either onstage or backstage, or while preparing for a performance, it’s important to take the right actions, both to protect your body so that you’re able to perform in the future and to ensure that you’re legally protected following your injury.
Visit a doctor as soon as possible. If you’ve experienced an acute injury, you should visit your doctor immediately to diagnose and treat the injury properly. Never attempt to continue performing in spite of an acute injury. Try to avoid making statements like, “I’m okay,” that might suggest that you aren’t injured when you really are. If you’ve experienced an overuse injury, visit your doctor as soon as you start noticing signs of increasing pain. This will help ensure that you don’t do further damage to your body in the process.
Consult a lawyer. As a Sarasota performer, you have the right to a safe working environment, including safe working conditions that don’t force you to overwork your body. If you’ve experienced an injury due to unsafe conditions, a director’s demands, or another performer’s negligence or deliberate act, you may be able to receive financial compensation for your injuries. Consulting with a lawyer is one of the most effective ways to learn more about your rights. A lawyer can also help you report unsafe working conditions to help keep other performers safe.
Don’t try to push back too soon. Listen to the recommendations of your doctors when it comes to your injury. When you’re able to come back, take it slow! You won’t be able to get back to your former capability overnight, and trying to push too hard, too fast can result in a longer recovery period or even permanent problems with joints, tendons, and other concerns. Work with your doctor to set a recovery schedule that will have you back to performing in a reasonably timely manner without over-stressing your body.
Call the Dolman Law Group if You Suffered a Stage Injury
If you’ve been injured while performing in Sarasota, you may benefit from consulting an attorney who is qualified to help you better understand your legal rights and the obligations of your company. Contact us today at (941) 210-7586 to schedule your free consultation or to learn more about how we may be able to help you get the funds you’re due as a result of your injury.
Dolman Law Group
8039 Cooper Creek Blvd
University Park, FL 34201-3007