Dancers Health

Bodywise Dance health professionals

Each year dancetrain asks the leading group of performing arts healthcare professionals across Australia to talk about their expertise and experiences plus any new technological developments in the management & treatment of injuries.

This years Bodywise articles are a must read for any dancers who want a psychological and physical edge when the pressure is on.

The importance of seeing a healthcare professional that has experience and an understands the psychology of a performing artist, the pressure to keep performing and pushing yourself, even with injury, has a unique set of parameters that must be navigated and understood.

How much is too much? by Katie Godwin
The Port De Bras by Gabrielle Davidson and Bradley Smith
Over Stretching by Susan Bond
The Benefits of Cross-Training for Dancers by Natalie Orola
Living with a Dream with Uncertain Job Prospects by Jocelyn Penna
OVERLOAD Understanding the Trigger by Charissa Fermelis
Body Talk- Pain Train Your Brain by Louise Drysdale
Reduce injury and Promote Performance by Melanie Fuller
Garuda by Anna Tetlow
It Takes Two by Michael Bellantonio
The Benefits of Private Coaching by Natalie Orola
Dance screening & injuries on the rise by Holly McPaul

How much is too much?
by Katie Godwin | | 02 9948 6188

There has often been discussion in the media regarding how much is too much when considering the level of exercise that young people engage in. Extreme examples of overtraining tend to make headlines, and can unnecessarily worry parents and teachers. No one wants to put any child or adolescent at risk of injury; that’s a given.

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The Port De Bras
by Gabrielle Davidson and Bradley Smith | | 03 9813 2188

Understanding how your body is put together can help you understand and access the right muscles, joints and bones to allow you to perform with greater strength and artistry.

Whilst watching dance it is the legs and feet that appear to carry out the majority of athleticism and it is the port de bras that displays artistry and intention with fine, controlled movements paramount to helping an artist tell a story.

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Over Stretching
by Susan Bond | | 02 9518 5009

Over stretching is where you stretch the muscle or hold a position for over 30 seconds at end of joint range limit.

Recently physiotherapists from The Australian Ballet medical team, have said they favour strengthening exercises rather than prolonged stretching on muscles. This has led to some confusion, as dancers cannot imagine going into class or performance without some sort of flexibility warm-up or back ground stretch training.

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The Benefits of Cross-Training for Dancers
by Natalie Orola | | 0415 715 080

Traditionally, a dancer’s training has been restricted to building their technique and performance levels during a dance class. Whilst we can all appreciate the demanding impact that dance has on our bodies, the dance industry has been relatively slow on the uptake of exploring cross-training pursuits for dancers. For many, it is the fear of injury or the appearance of looking ‘too bulky’.

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Living with a Dream with Uncertain Job Prospects
by Jocelyn Penna | | 02 8011 4435

Most people feel more secure when they know what is around the bend, but unfortunately life is full of uncertainties. Dancers in pre-performance years usually have an idea of their desired career path, however each company, school and director have their own criteria and preferences. Performance is subjective so even if a dancer met the required criteria their selection is still uncertain. They must also deal with uncontrollable factors including health, puberty and injury.

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Understanding the Triggers

by Charissa Fermelis | 0438 020 167 |

Understanding when you are at risk of injury will help you better take care of yourself. Charissa offers some great advice on how to better understand you and gain a greater understanding of when you might be overloading.

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Body Talk- Pain Train Your Brain
by Louise Drysdale | 07 3846 1488 |

As dancers, our bodies are the most important tools we have. We need them to be in peak physical condition. When an injury occurs, we panic. Firstly, we start to wonder what is wrong, then pour back over the past few days, hours or seconds to find the point in time when it started hurting. Why is this new pain here? Will it go away and be better tomorrow? Will it come back? Will it ever get better? Will I still be able to dance?

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Reduce injury and Promote Performance
by Melanie Fuller | 07 3846 1488 |

Dance classes work on neuromuscular coordination, this relates to your technique and balance1. Training in other areas can have a positive impact on our performance and overall health, and may reduce injuries. But how can we use our time most efficiently to achieve these results?

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by Anna Tetlow | 0438 595 792 |

When we think of techniques that work specifically well alongside dance and in particular classical ballet, we think of Joesph Pilates and The GYROTONIC® methods. I have a new technique to add to your repertoire and it is called Garuda. Creator of The Garuda Pilates Method, The Garuda Apparatus and founder of The Garuda Studio, James D’Silva was born and raised in Goa, India, before moving to England to become a professional dancer. I have worked with James for over 17 years and am the master trainer of Garuda in Australia. I am very excited to be be able to teach this wonderful method and to make it available ad a part of a dancers training as well being responsible for training Garuda teachers in Australia in the future.

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It Takes Two
by Michael Bellantonio | 02 6282 5010 |

In the immortal words of Tina Turner and Rod Stewart: two can really ease the pain, like a perfect remedy.

As a male physiotherapist with a special interest in treating dancers, developing a good rapport with them is paramount. Most of my dance clients are young females, so they need to feel comfortable with me treating them. The importance of a good professional relationship and communication cannot be underestimated. It is as important as the interventions I provide to the dancer.

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The Benefits of Private Coaching by Natalie Orola | | 0415 715 080 The importance of a regular dance class builds socialisation skills, develops 'team spirit', allows for easier pathways to group performances and concerts, and provides students with clear, real-time benchmarks at their level within the class environment. So, where does private coaching fit in?

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Dance screening & injuries on the rise
by Holly McPaul | 02 4227 1990 |

What is a Dance Screen?
A dance screen is comparable to the appointments you make with your dentist or optometrist, except for the dancers body. We look at movement patterns, technique and dance movement control. Sometimes it is a simple thing that throws off the rest of the body or movement pattern and is easily corrected with exercises (that we call correctives). Your dance screen will be part of your dancer profile, allowing us to compare previous screens, and we can track changes to make sure that students continue to perform at their very best.
 The screen is also very beneficial for the students parents and teachers and supports the teaching of safe and correct technique ensuring the activities done in youth do not hurt the adults body later in life.

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HSC Dance - how does it support a dance career?
by Katelyn Boshell | 0415 839 030

Maintaining a dancing body at peak performance level can be a struggle for dance students rehearsing for an eisteddfod, exams or even for their final NSW Higher School Certificate (H.S.C) practical examinations.

"Students often hear that they need to prepare their bodies both mentally and physically, but what does this really mean?"


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Are Injuries Preventable
by Louisa McGinness | | 02 9389 2766

"Up to 75% of dance injuries are preventable – so how can I reduce the risk of getting injured?"

Research has estimated that up to 75% of all dancers’ injuries are due to overuse1, regardless of the age, gender or training level of the dancer2.

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Dentist or Dance Physiotherapist? BOTH!
By Susie Bond | | 02 9518 5009

Would just two visits a year to a specialist dance physiotherapist make a significant impact to injury prevention?
Dance physiotherapists love to assist dancers achieve their top goals in dance. Everyone visits the dentist regularly to prevent dental problems. Regular visits to a specialist dance physio should be made, in the case for dancers going through rapid growth spurts. Simple core stability, joint strengthening and leg alignment exercises can make all the difference for injury prevention.

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Weight Watching & Your Identity
by Jocelyn Penna |

People drawn to dance possess many amazing traits, beliefs and values that enable them to excel such as determination, emotional connection and focus. Yet, these same characteristics can place dancers at risk of suffering from stress and high pressure. Developing awareness of your strengths and vulnerabilities can help you keep a healthy, productive and enjoyable balance.

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Happy Hips?
by Deborah Chen |

As dancers continue to push their body right to the extent of their flexibility I’m seeing an increase in hip pain complaints – particularly a pinching in the front of their hip when doing front kicks or developping leg to devant. Sometimes the pinch is only there with those particular activities and other times the pinch turns into a deep, dull ache that can last for a few hours and can eventually become constant.

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Turnout - what is it?
by Samantha Jakelic | | 02 9948 6188

Dance teachers and students are constantly talking about and working on making the most of turnout. It is what makes Ballet fundamentally unique. Turnout is the ability to outwardly rotate the leg so that the knees and toes turn away from the midline. The “perfect” 180o turnout is often desired amongst dancers and choreographers because of its aesthetic appeal. However, did you know that turnout has also been shown to allow more efficient weight transfer, better control of extensions and reduce the risk of injury?1

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Remedial Coaching
by Suzanne Way | | 0407 010 286

What is something dancers really struggle with when they get injured?
In my experience I have found dancers struggle with the time frame of their injury. How long will I be out of class and rehearsal? What opportunities will be missed? These questions immediately set up a stress reaction in the body and must be dealt with carefully.

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The Importance of a Dance-Specific Musculoskeletal Assessment
by Shannon Trotter | | 02 9527 4099

A dance assessment carried out by a physiotherapist who specialises in treating dancers can be used to identify a dancers' strengths and weaknesses which in turn may decrease their risk of injury. It is also used to assess readiness for pointe work and for general improvement in technique and performance. Often, dancers will present to our clinic with injuries that could have been avoided with prior assessment and appropriate management programs. The long term benefits are immense with reduced risk of injury, less time off dancing and improved performance.

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Starting Pointe Work
by Louise Drysdale | | 07 3846 1488

Do growth plates in the foot affect the ability for the dancer to commence pointe work and can commencing pointe work too early create long term negative side effects?
These are difficult questions to answer because there is a lack of research explicitly investigating this. Growth plates are a bit like elastic in pregnancy pants - in young dancers, they are not yet comprised of fully calcified bone, in fact they are cartilaginous and ready to expand and grow as a dancer gets taller. Growth plates (around the ankle) generally fuse at age 14 for girls and age 16 for boys. Most girls I see progress to pointe are 11.5- 16 years of age. The International Association of Dance Medicine and Science recommends age 12 as an appropriate age to start or start preparing for pointe work.

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by Andrew Cobb | | 03 9878 8088

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is quite common as you age but can develop much earlier when someone has suffered a significant knee injury. A classic example of this is when an athlete ruptures their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), regardless of the treatment sought you can expect to see OA changes in the knee within 20 years. Quite often these athletes are still young and having major surgery like a partial knee replacement is best to be avoided for as long as possible. In these circumstances, there is a growing demand for injectables to delay the need for surgery. For all of these injections you need to discuss the appropriateness of them with your GP, sports physician or orthopaedic surgeon.

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Tips To Help Your Body During Exam & Comp Time
by Charissa Fermelis | | 0438 020 167

The winter dance competition season has come and gone, and fast approaching is the spring exam timetable and soon enough, we will be in the midst of concert preparation. The yearly dance calendar can be quite a confronting routine, punctuated with extra rehearsals and private lessons; there are few opportunities for ‘down time’ or an ‘off season’ where rest and recuperation are allowed.

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The Importance of the Intrinsic Muscles in the Feet
by Gabrielle Davidson & Joanne Maskrey | | 03 9813 2188

The humble foot is a highly mobile collection of joints, ligament and muscles that allow for flexibility of the ankle in demi-plies, the beautiful arc of the pointed foot, the explosive push off, and the light, quiet landing of allegro. Dancers are able to execute these movements precisely with the activation and control of highly trained intrinsic muscles of their feet.

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