Alpine Physical Therapy was proud to host a panel discussion on Myth Busters for Dancers this past week. The Panel included Astrid Sherman (the Artistic Director of CatchingART Contemporary Ballet Theatre and Pro Arte Centre Professional Training School in Vancouver, Canada), Colleen O’Callaghan (the founder and Artistic Director of O’Callaghan Moves in California), Ana Soulia, DPT (Alpine Physical Therapy), and Kristi Moore (Alpine Physical Therapy).
Myth: “You must be insanely flexible with incredibly high legs to be a professional dancer”. This topic was introduced by Astrid Sherman. The discussion went into the truth about stretching and who stretching is appropriate for, when it is appropriate, for how long to stretch and other ways to increase motion in dance. There was discussion about the research relating to stretching, as well as a study that was done on the longevity of dancers, comparing dancers with extreme flexibility to those who were less flexible. The end result is that the dancers who made it longer in careers were not the dancers with extreme flexibility. The overall message was to know your body and how to appropriately work to keep it from injury. For example: if you are very flexible, you don’t likely need to stretch, but more likely do strengthening exercises. If you are the less flexible dancer, you may need to stretch but in the best way possible. It was recommended for before dance to stretch a maximum of 15 seconds per stretch, then move through motion to loosen up, after dance class a maximum of 30 sec per stretch 3 to 5 times per week.
Myth: “The myth of the Fifth, perfect turnout”. This topic was introduced by Colleen O’Callaghan. This topic had participation by the dancers with them demonstrating their turnout and Fifth positions, then going through a series of exercises aimed at finding the correct weight bearing points through the feet and then working on a balance of internal rotation to gain external rotation with activation of the deep hip rotators, not the front of the hip. There was demonstration on cheats to improve the 5th that should not be used.
Myth: “To become a better dancer all you have to do is dance”. This topic was introduced by Ana Soulia. The discussion points on this topic addressed that dancers should address the areas they need improvement on to improve dance through the appropriate cross-training. This may include cardio training, weight training, stretching if their body needs it. It was touched on that Physical Therapy is a great way to find out where a dancer needs to put effort into making improvements outside of dance to improve their dance.
Myth: “All that a Physical Therapist will do is tell you to rest and ice”. This topic was introduced by Kristi Moore. This discussion talked about how Physical Therapists can start to help dancers early on before they have injuries with dance screenings, where each individual dancer can have their range of motion, strength, and flexibility assessed with feedback to each dancer. This information can be used to help a dancer address their specific areas and ideally help to prevent a dancer from injury. It was then turned to when a dancer is injured and how a Physical Therapist will help them to keep dancing as much as is safe while rehabilitating and will help them to work on other areas to keep them in shape while going through the rehabilitation process. The overall message was that Physical Therapists can help dancers at many stages of their dance career providing information and treatment when needed.
Below are links to the websites for both Astrid Sherman and Colleen O’Callaghan, as well as a link to Alpine Physical Therapy’s Dance Medicine page.
There are links below for the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS) where many research articles can be found.
www.proartecentre.com or www.catchingart.ca Astrid
www.AlpinePTmissoula.com Kristi and Ana
For more information and research, visit the IADMS website at http://www.iadms.org.
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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