Before season 8 of Dancing with the Stars kicked off three weeks ago, contestants Jewel and Nancy O’Dell dropped out due to leg injuries. Since then, Steve-O tweaked his back, Steve Wozniak fractured his foot, Gilles Marini has tendonitis in his shoulder and Holly Madison suffered pain in her side. And those are only the ones that have been reported.
Why so many injuries this season compared to previous ones?
“Everyone seems to be competing more aggressively this year, and I think that’s why were having all these injuries,” says DWTS judge Carrie Ann Inaba.
And while injuries in professional ballroom dancing are “virtually unknown,” says Peter Pover, president of USA Dance Inc., the national governing body for ballroom dancing. But he also notes that celebrity dancers are training in extreme conditions in a short time and for many, this is their first time doing anything like this.
“It shouldn’t surprise Steve Wozniak that he hurts himself trying to do some of the things he’s doing,” he says about the computer whiz, who wears a temporary cast when he’s not whirling across the dancefloor. “He must be in terrific pain.” As for Wozniak, he says he didn’t realize how serious his injury was until his partner Karina Smirnoff saw his ankle and suggested they go see a doctor.
“For a couple of weeks, everything hurt. So you don’t notice one hurt being different from the other,” Wozniak says. “They all go away, right? Well, one of them didn’t go away.”
Each week, it seems another person is going to get something checked out by a doctor. Broadway performer and funnyman David Alan Grier has avoided injury (so far) the old-fashioned way.
“I try to warm up. I take a hot bath every morning and just stretch, stretch,” he says.
Pover, who has watched the show since it started eight seasons ago, says the level of difficulty continues to rise. “I think anybody who goes into this gets a surprise when they find out what’s expected of them,” he says.
Two-time Dancing champ Cheryl Burke agrees. “People who have never danced before don’t realize dancing is a sport,” says Burke. People are dancing four to six hours a day… Even if you’re in the best shape possible, with dancing you’ve never worked out these parts of your body.” –Elaine Aradillas, with reporting by Shruti Dhalwala and Monica Rizzo
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