Good Pain, Bad Pain: Dancers, Injury, and Listening to the Body

Good Pain, Bad Pain: Dancers, Injury, and Listening to the Body

Type of Research output: Journal Article

Trinity Laban Staff member(s): Prof. Helen Thomas (0000-0003-2808-2151),

All Author(s): Jen Tarr, Helen Thomas

Publication details: Dance Research


Keywords: Dance, Embodiment, Injuries, dancing, Pain management,

Details of submissions

Date of acceptance: July 23rd, 2020

Date of publication: August 7th, 2020

Date of deposit in Trinity Laban Research Online: July 31st, 2020

Type of document: Journal Article

URL to this record:

[su_spoiler title="Abstract" open="yes" style="default" icon="plus" anchor="" class=""]

While pain is generally considered unpleasant, pain associated with exercise and physical activity is sometimes classed as good. Good pain is usually associated with training, while bad pain is associated with injury. However, the boundary between good and bad pain is a narrow one. We examine this boundary, using interviews with 205 dancers, dance students and related professionals. A cultural phenomenological approach is adopted to understand dancers’ embodied experiences and how they describe physical sensations. We highlight the variety of their descriptions of different kinds of pain and its association with injury, as well as how they conceptualise its role within their careers. The three primary dimensions to dancers’ distinctions between good and bad pain, also have a moral dimension in relation to the concern to be seen as hard-working and committed. We suggest that the process of distinguishing between good and bad pain is as much a process of not to hear as it is of learning to listen to the body.

Full text (online)
Jen Tarr, Helen Thomas (2020). Good Pain, Bad Pain: Dancers, Injury, and Listening to the Body. Dance Research.
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