Special thanks to Claire Antonioli an avid dancer who is also currently in her final internship at Alpine Physical Therapy in preparation to become a physical therapist.
Having been a dancer for many years, I have had a lot of physical therapy . . . some good, some bad. In many ways, dancers are without question athletes. We use our bodies every day in a physical capacity and push ourselves to our limits. However, unlike many other athletes, there is also an artistic component to our physical outlet. Yet we also need our health care providers to acknowledge our differences from other athletes.
As in all populations and professions that are physically demanding, dancers end up with a lot of injuries and live with a certain amount of pain on most days. Resultantly, our pain tolerance is high. In the event we seek medical help, it’s likely because we honestly think something is terribly wrong. Over my dancing career, I have sought out physical therapy at least five times. From these experiences with the good, the mediocre, and the bad PT experiences, I’ve generated a few do’s and don’ts for those who intend to treat dancers.
There were a few common characteristics in the physical therapists that I bonded with and felt gave me excellent care. They treated the physical therapy session like a conversation where I learned from them, but they also learned from me. We negotiated about time spent doing exercises and how much I was able to participate in class and other aspects of care. It was not just the PT telling me what to do; rather, they looked for my input and made an effort to compromise.
In summary, dancers like all people just want someone who understands where they are coming from and who provides excellent care. In some ways, we might be harder to understand than the general population. When you help get us back to what we love the most, you’ll have a dedicated patient for life.
For more information on our Dance Medicine approach at Alpine, click here
Brent Dodge is the founding owner of Alpine Physical Therapy and is a board certified orthopedic specialist. He holds additional certifications in Functional Dry Needling, Manual Physical Therapy, and Strength and Conditioning.
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