Scares on Stage: The Dancing with the Stars Injuries & Health Crises That Rocked the Ballroom
Competing on Dancing with the Stars isn't for the faint of heart — or the easily injured.
Hannah Brown's Post-Show Pain
In January 2021, the former Bachelorette star shared a series of videos on her Instagram Story, revealing that she hasn't been able to workout in nearly half a year as she continues to deal with the trauma her body endured during the ABC dance competition.
"I'm going on a little walk. I feel like I've been not as open about my life with you guys, so I'm gonna try to share more. I think this political climate and with COVID has been hard for all of us and me too," Brown began in her video. "Usually when I'm struggling, dealing with my mental health, I can go to working out. Well, for the past five months, maybe almost six, I haven't been able to work out like I used to."
Then, the reality star revealed that she's gone to physical therapy due to injuries that were put under "additional stress" from her time on DWTS.
"I am still going to the doctor and trying to figure it out but I think a lot of my body hurting comes from some issues that started on Dancing with the Stars and I just kept going from zero to 100 — I'm either all or nothing — and pushed it too much to where I now have, like, some issues that I am having to deal with physical therapy," she said. "So I've been doing that mostly and then going on some walks and bike rides, but honestly, that's it."
Going forward, Brown said she plans to explore "new workout methods" as she adjusts and listens to what her body needs.
Lauren Alaina's Ribs
After Alaina and her partner Gleb Savchenko performed an Argentine tango to "Whatever Lola Wants" by Sarah Vaughan, judge Carrie Ann Inaba complemented Alaina on how strong her core appeared during the routine. But the singer later admitted to host Erin Andrews, "I have four hurt ribs."
"When she said my core looked strong I looked straight at Gleb because all I have been trying to do is pretend my ribs aren't broken this whole competition," Alaina continued. "I fractured the one on the left the first week of the show and I haven't had these X-rayed, but they don't feel great."
Savchenko commended his partner's willingness to push through the discomfort. "She's so strong. I'm so proud that she got through it," he said. "We had a tough week and I'm really proud of you. You did a great job."
Christie Brinkley's Arm
Brinkley had to drop out of her season of Dancing with the Stars after falling and breaking her arm during rehearsals. But have no fear, her daughter Sailor was here! And she fit perfectly into her then-65-year-old mom's costume.
The model mom joked in a statement, "Showbiz is all about getting a break, and Sailor and I both got one on Dancing with the Stars this season. Sailor joined the cast when I got mine … ouch somebody stop me, it hurts to laugh!"
As for Sailor, she was happy to fill her mama's dancing shoes. "I'm doing this mostly for my mom! I just want to make her happy and make her proud," the then-21-year-old said. "She loved doing this, she loves dancing and she loves performing and getting hurt was her worst nightmare."
Pamela Anderson's Leg
While practicing for Dancing with the Stars France, the actress had quite the scare.
"I hurt my right calf muscle in rehearsal last night," Anderson wrote on Instagram on Oct. 18, 2018. "We weren't doing anything crazy just dancing. It felt like someone threw a baseball very hard at my lower leg- I screamed and turned around and no one was there. then realized it was my calf muscle that may have exploded?"
She had the support of her partner, Maxime Dereymez, who Anderson claims "did all he could."
"He carried me to car and then carried me to my hotel room," she continued. "Kine' came to my room. My mom stayed with me through the night."
It was her second injury of the season and left her on crutches, however she was doing "anything" to make it to the next live performance show.
Bobby Bones' Mouth
While gearing up for season 27, the Nashville radio DJ revealed he'd been elbowed (hard!) in the mouth, twice.
"I had to fill out a lot of paperwork, because I got hit really hard," he told PEOPLE after one incident that required him to file a dental claim. "There was blood and a tooth. I still don't know what I'm doing. [Partner Sharna Burgess] was doing her spin thing, and she was doing what she was supposed to do, and my face was not doing what it was supposed to do."
Victoria Arlen's Body Spasm
While rehearsing for a season 25 live show, Arlen — who, at age 11, was diagnosed with a neurological condition and an autoimmune disease, which affected her spinal cord and left her in a vegetative state for four years — bent over in pain after the entire right side of her body went into a spasm. Partner Val Chmerkovskiy got her some medical attention, and the two still went on to compete that night.
"I definitely didn't feel as strong as I felt in dress before the spasm," Arlen explained to co-host Tom Bergeron after her dance and before the judges awarded her a 24/30. "But kind of overcoming that … getting out of that scared mindset really helped me kind of go out there. It wasn't as good as it could have been, but given the circumstances, I'm very happy with it."
Lindsey Stirling's Rib Injury
After heading to the hospital after she suffered a rib injury during rehearsals, the season 25 front-runner faced the possibility of sitting out from the rest of the competition. But she pushed through, earning 27/30 on a fast-moving paso doblé the very next day.
"She's doing better," partner Mark Ballas told reporters after the show. "She wanted to be here tonight [to talk to press], but I told her she needed to go rest and put ice on her ribs ... Her health comes first."
KIM ZOLCIAK-BIERMANN'S MINI-STROKE
After Zolciak-Biermann suffered a mini-stroke, she was forced to withdraw from the season 21 competition because she wouldn't be able to get from Atlanta to Los Angeles in time for her performance. Though she was sad to self-eliminate, she said that the show's hectic schedule, which she believes caused the blood clot, was a blessing.
MARIE OSMOND'S FAINTING SPELL
It was a television moment so shocking producers couldn't have planned it: In the midst of receiving her critique from the judges in season 5, Osmond fainted and remained on the ground for 30 seconds. She ended up being fine; even as producers were encouraging her to go to the medic, she waited to get her scores and was able to continue on in the competition.
MARK BALLAS' BAD BACK
The pro had an old injury flare up in season 22, causing him to pull out of the competition for one week to recover (a troupe member took his place with partner Paige VanZant). "We weren't warmed up, so I wasn't going to do the tricks," VanZant recalled of their run-through. "But he said we had to because we didn't have a lot of time. We'd done the first trick 100 times. But the first time we did Sunday, he hurts his back." From that moment, things got "really stressful," said VanZant.
GINGER ZEE'S PELVIS INJURY
The meteorologist's appearance in the season 22 finale was up in the air after she hurt her pelvis during rehearsals. "I couldn't even do two of my dress rehearsal runs today because, for one, I can't even do some of the moves. I'm not allowed to," she shared. "I'm not even close to where I need to be to perform." But the next day, she was back in action, visiting a physical therapist before hitting the ballroom.
TERRA JOLE'S HERNIAS
The season 23 contestant competed wearing a back brace to help prevent further injuries to her existing hernias. "I'm still pushing myself to the very limit," she wrote in her blog for PEOPLE. "I know I'll pay for it later, but it's worth it."
JORDAN FISHER'S PRIOR INJURIES
Fisher suffered injuries while practicing gymnastics as a child, and his body is still recovering, making season 25 a challenge for the star. "I don't have great hips for somebody who's 23," he told PEOPLE. "I think adrenaline is a big factor. It definitely can mask a lot of things that I deal with, but the moment I get into my car and head home, that's when my body goes 'Oh God.'" In addition to his weak hips, the actor says he suffers from tendinitis in both achilles, thin cartilage in his ankles and rotator cuff issues in his right shoulder. "I'm definitely sore all the time," added Fisher, who receives frequent care from a massage therapist. But the singer said exercise — like dancing — actually helps him prevent "real damage" in the future.
TAMAR BRAXTON'S BLOOD CLOTS
After she was sent to the hospital during the show's dress rehearsal, Braxton was forced to bow out of the competition due to blood clots in her lungs. Competing on the same season as Zolciak-Biermann, she was the second competitor to withdraw.
DEREK HOUGH'S INJURED FOOT
The five-time Mirrorball Trophy winner's future on the show's 20th season was in jeopardy after he injured his foot during rehearsals with then-partner Nastia Liukin. He broke a toe on his right foot and sprained his left ankle. Though he was forced to sit out for a week, he eventually came back, and the two went on to compete in the semi-finals.
KATHERINE JENKINS'S LOWER BACK PAIN
The vocalist was a frontrunner in the season 14 competition, making it to the semi-finals before she started experiencing lower back pain during her performance, which led her to make a mistake and start crying when she finished the dance. The tears weren't just emotional: Jenkins suffered a reflectorial spasm in her lower back, and was forced to visit a doctor. Luckily, the injury didn't set her back too far: she ended up taking second place in the competition.
CRISTIÁN DE LA FUENTE'S MUSCLE CRAMP
In season 6, after he suffered a ruptured tendon in his bicep — the tearing of muscle from bone — de la Fuente needed surgery. The injury was serious and affected his ability to twist his arm (and his partner) on the dance floor. However, de la Fuente didn't let that stop him in the competition: He ended up delaying surgery so he could continue competing on the show. With partner Cheryl Burke, the actor eventually placed third.
JULIANNE HOUGH'S STOMACH PAIN
In 2008's season 7, when Hough was still a pro on the show (these days, she's sometimes a judge), she was rushed to the hospital with severe stomach pains — a symptom of endometriosis. Hough, who was then partnered with Cody Linley, didn't have to take any time off from the competition, and only spent a few hours in the hospital before she was sent home to rest.
MELISSA RYCROFT'S DISC HERNIATION
During rehearsals for a group dance on the all-star season of Dancing with the Stars, Rycroft was injured and sent to the hospital. Her diagnosis? A disc herniation, which left her chances in the competition in jeopardy. However, she overcame the obstacle, and went on to win the competition.
MISTY MAY-TREANOR'S TORN ACHILLES
May-Treanor, a gold medal-winning Olympian, was forced to withdraw from the season 7 competition after she tore her Achilles tendon during rehearsal. The injury required surgery, which meant that she could no longer dance with partner Maks Chmerkovskiy.
BILL NYE'S TORN TENDON
After he tripped during a season 17 performance, Nye was forced to check into the hospital for an MRI. He ended up with a torn tendon, and his doctor told him that he shouldn't dance the following week. Never one to follow orders, Nye decided to dance despite his doctor's recommendation. Though the judges applauded his determination, his low scores led him to be sent home anyway.
MAKS CHMERKOVSKIY'S CALF INJURY
Chermovskiy was forced to sit out for four weeks of competition after he injured his calf during rehearsals in season 24. When he returned, he and partner Heather Morris received a perfect 40 score from the judges — only to be eliminated that same night.
DREW SCOTT'S HAMSTRING
During a camera blocking rehearsal in season 25, the Property Brothers star injured his hamstring, which left that night's performance up in the air. Though he wasn't able to do a full lunge, he was still able to perform his quickstep, and continue on in the competition for the following week.