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An Introduction to Dance Injury

Posted By Elsa Urmston on behalf of the IADMS Education Committee, Thursday, June 4, 2015

 

Well, it’s the moment that all dancers and their teachers dread.  Sustaining an injury in dance can be at best, a ‘momentary’ interruption to dance training and performance, at worst a career-ending catastrophe.  Thankfully, dance medicine and science colleagues have produced a vast range of conditioning and injury prevention strategies to enable dancers to be stronger and ever more versatile, as well as take ownership over injury if, as and when it might occur.  Yet of course, by just looking at the repertoire of our modern dance and ballet companies, we can see that choreographers and audiences have increased their expectations of what the human body can achieve.  Injury remains a very real possibility. 

Improving awareness of dance injury, in terms of how and when it might occur, and ensuring dancers know about injury care, can play a large part in the successful rehabilitation and timely return to dancing.  This blog post is one in a series which introduces dance injury.  Subsequent posts will focus on how we might be able to prevent dance injury in the first place, through screening for dancer health and wellness, and by ensuring dance educators’ practice is safe and effective for all involved.

Research suggests that the most commonly perceived causes of injury were cited as ‘fatigue’ and ‘overwork’, along with repetitive movements amongst dancers and managers alike.  Organisations such as IADMS, Dance UK and Harkness Center for Dance Injury amongst many other dancer wellness initiatives, all advocate for optimising dancers’ training and performance through supporting dancer fitness and conditioning, ensuring sound biomechanical function in dancing and promoting an autonomy supportive environment for dancers to flourish.  New research from ArtEZ Institute for the Arts in Arnhem, Holland has sought to reconceptualise how the undergraduate dance curriculum is shaped to maximise performance through the principles of periodisation.  The programme year is designed as a series of macro- and micro-cycles in which the training intensity alternately increases and decreases, ensuring that the dancer develops and recovers without causing staleness or overtraining.  The approach has seen a significant reduction in injuries and less course dropout since the instigation of this system.  Take a look at this easy-read overview of the project at ArtEZ here.

 

So what actually happens when I sprain my ankle or strain a muscle?   

Essentially, if cells become damaged, the body releases a number of chemicals that create an inflammatory response, usually resulting in swelling, redness, heat, pain and loss of function.  Inflammation is the body’s natural response in promoting new cell growth, and is a necessary stage of the healing process.  The injury process can be conceptualised like this:


How can we help our dancers manage injury in the short-term?

Try and help your dancers remember the acronym PRICED – it’s an invaluable first aid guide to immediate treatment which can be self-administered, and when used in the first minutes and hours after injury can help in controlling pain and inflammation and assist in the safe return to dancing.

  • PROTECTION: Remove additional danger or risk from injured area.
  • REST: Stop dancing and stop moving the injured area.
  • ICE: Apply ice to the injured area for 20 minutes every two hours.
  • COMPRESSION: Apply an elastic compression bandage to the injured area.
  • ELEVATION: Raise the injured area above the heart.
  • DIAGNOSIS: Acute injuries should be evaluated by a health-care professional.

And in the first few days after injury, help them to avoid HARM too.

 

  • HEAT: Any kind of heat will speed up the circulation, resulting in more swelling and a longer recovery.
  • ALCOHOL: Alcohol can increase swelling, causing a longer recovery.
  • RUNNING OR OTHER EXCESSIVE EXERCISE: Exercising too early can cause further damage to the injured part. Exercise also increases the blood-flow, resulting in more swelling.
  • MASSAGE: Massage increases swelling and bleeding into the tissue, prolonging recovery time.

 

And what about managing injury more long-term?

Drawing on some of the most recent research findings about injury, such as the periodisation work at ArtEZ, the growing body of research-informed practice around screening dancers and the importance of safe dance practice, we should be seeking ways to embed these examples of best practice in our work to minimise the likelihood of injury first and foremost.  But in managing injury more long-term, we should aim to reduce swelling, restore proprioception (awareness of where the body is in space without relying on the visual system), maintain cardiovascular health and ensure a healthy, balanced and varied diet to facilitate healing.  IADMS have a very accessible resource paper full of practical ideas about First Aid for Dancers here.

 

Local provision

In the UK the establishment of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science means that through shared expertise and a network of multidisciplinary partners, better and more affordable, high quality, evidence-based, dance specific health care and dance science support services are being offered to dancers across the sector.  Please check out their website.

In the USA the Harkness Center for Dance Injury is dedicated to providing the dance community with the highest quality injury care and preventative resources. Harkness offers many subsidized and free services including orthopaedic and sports medicine clinics, physical therapy and athletic training services, and injury prevention lectures and workshops.  Please check out their website.

If there are other support services in your locality not listed here, please do add them in the comments box below.

 

For information about dance injury and treatment have a look at the following recommendations:

Laws, Helen. Fit to Dance 2-Report of the second national inquiry into dancers’ health and injury in the UK, 2005.

Solomon, Ruth L., John Solomon, and Sandra Cerny Minton, eds. Preventing dance injuries. Elsevier, 2005.

 

For more information about optimising dancers’ fitness have a look at these texts too:

Welsh, Tom. Conditioning for dancers. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Krasnow, Donna and Jordana Deveau.  Conditioning with imagery for dancers.  Thompson Educational Publishing, 2010.  Additionally there are some useful introductory videos on Krasnow and Deveau’s approach here.

 

Don’t forget to watch out for our forthcoming posts continuing this series about preventing dance injury.

 

Elsa Urmston MSc PGCAP AFHEA is the DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training Manager, Ipswich, UK and a member of the IADMS Education Committee.

Email: elsa.urmston@danceeast.co.uk

Tags:  dancers  injury 

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IADMS Education in Motion: A member reports on a Pre-Pointe Education Workshop in New Zealand

Posted By Esther Juon Veitch, Tuesday, May 19, 2015
 

IADMS is an international organization, and our reach is truly international.  In addition to annual conferences and regional workshops, our members are taking the information from dance medicine and science to the most important venues—private studios in small towns, where the application of the information can make a difference for the young dancers and their teachers.  This report from Esther Juon describes such an event.

 

I have recently come back from a five day trip to Aratapu a small place consisting of a hotel and a dance school and a few houses 10 km from Dargaville in provincial New Zealand.

To cover this full day workshop, followed by assessments and fittings, most of the 8 students attending the workshop held a fundraiser. By selling homemade cupcakes and raffle tickets in their town, they raised enough money to pay for the course and the assessments.


 

I had been invited to present a six hour Foot & Pointe Shoe Workshop, followed by fittings of pointe or demi-pointe shoes the next day.  These dancers are in three different classes, the equivalent of BBO (British Ballet Organisation) or RAD Grade 5, Intermediate Foundation and Intermediate.

After settling into the local hotel I met up with the ballet teacher that evening and took her through our PowerPoint presentation and the relevant articles from the IADMS Bulletin for Teachers and Dancers.

I was able to cover the new material and explain the importance of the approaches I was going to use in the workshop. 


We began the morning with an interactive PowerPoint presentation, covering the anatomy of the foot and how that relates to ballet. We also explored what the requirements are for a dancer to be ready for pointe and how the foot should be supported in a pointe shoe (resource here).

The second part of the workshop included working with the dancers on the personal commitment required to safely get ready for pointe work. This includes being technically, mentally, and physically ready to go on pointe. I took the dancers through a series of exercises & stretches that should to be done on a daily basis in order to prepare for pointe work.

Day two was spent working with the dancers individually (2 hours each) and preparing a 5-6 page report, with photos, for each of them to refer to once I was gone. The teacher filled in a pre-prepared form & took notes about each student, while I worked with them. I took photos of what the dancer does currently and noted any improvements she could make. This way the teacher could see why a dancer had certain problems with movements or steps and was involved in changing the way the dancer worked and moved. The report was edited later on, photos added & emailed to the teacher, dancer, and parent. They now have a document to work from until I see them again. At that stage new photos will be taken so we can document the progress each dancer has made.

The teacher has since decided to revisit everything learned and shared in the course and is addressing the personal corrections for each student so progress can happen quite quickly. I look forward to going back to visit them and fundraising for my next trip has already started.

Working with the resources from IADMS I am hoping to reach out to many more teachers to provide them with information to help them prepare their students for pointe work. It is imperative that each dancer goes through her adolescent growth spurt before starting pointe work. In my opinion this is the most important consideration to make for the well-being of the dancer.

 

Esther Juon Veitch:  BBO RTS Dip CID. Member of IADMS Education Board.


   IADMS series one posters are a perfect resource for this topic as they cover the Adolescent Growth Spurt, Pointe Readiness and Proprioception. To order this set, and other IADMS posters, click here


Tags:  education in motion  pointe  teachers 

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Beyond Ballet: Why and How? A Conference Report

Posted By Erin Sanchez on behalf of the IADMS Education Committee, Tuesday, May 19, 2015

  Image by Visuele Notulen | Michèle Giebing

On April 16-18th, ArtEZ School of Dance and Balettakademien Stockholm presented BEYOND ballet why and how, a conference "initiated by education, partnered by the dance profession" in Arnhem, the Netherlands. BEYOND's name alludes to the success of the event's predecessor in Stockholm in 2012; Ballet: Why and How?, which focused on ballet technique and its role in professional vocational training for dancers. This year's conference took on the future of dance with a wider view of dance education, training and professional life through five themes: Educational, Artistic, Urban, Preservation and Medicine and Science. Topics were progressively developed over three days through a series of linked lectures, workshops and practical classes, panel and research discussions, and time for open dialogue and debate.

Dance medicine and science were directly discussed in many areas of the conference, with sessions on empirically supported and clinically relevant medical care and the composition and uses of an interdisciplinary team in delivering support and health care for dancers. However, the most inspiring revelation was the continuing and growing appreciation from dancers, teachers, artistic directors and medical professionals of the value of dance medicine and science in every aspect of dance; from physical implications of collaboration between dance and circus, creative implications of research into synchronization in motor control, awareness of nutrition and body image among dancers and the lengthening of dance careers to radical improvement of traditional dance training through research on attentional focus, periodization and emotional intelligence.

Throughout the conference, methods of training, research, leadership and care of the dancer dominated the discourse. Delegates had time to discuss these themes and to hear rich debate and thought about the future of dance as an art form through the lens of these topics. Cross disciplinary dialogues between artists, educators and medical professionals provided safe place to debate change and growth. Further, students from both ArtEz and Balettakademien Stockholm provided a voice of the future by actively participating in every session, raising questions and providing insights. IADMS members Elsa Urmston, Sanna Nordin-Bates, Margot Rijven, Derrick Brown, Adrienne Stevens and Clare Guss-West all shared knowledge and research from their specialist fields.

 

If you are interested in learning more about the conference proceedings, sessions have been captured in video, articles and blog posts here.

 

Erin Sanchez, on behalf of the IADMS Education Committee

Healthier Dancer Programme Manager (part-time) Dance UK

Web Resources Administrator Rudolf Nureyev Foundation Medical Website

Dance UK, Unit A402A, The Biscuit Factory, 100 Clements Road, London, SE16 4DG

Tel: 020 7713 0730 | Mobile: 07838 956 423

www.danceuk.org

www.nureyev-medical.org

 

Watch videos of the UK's first-ever industry-wide dance conference,

The Future: New Ideas, New Inspirations, conceived and developed by Dance UK.

Tags:  regional conference 

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Maintaining Correct Alignment When Training Positions Retiré or Passé - (to withdraw or to pass)

Posted By Maggie Lorraine on behalf of the IADMS Education Committee, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

 

In the last post from the IADMS Education Committee “Dancing with the pelvis” the authors focused on pelvic alignment and its relevance to movement execution in the studio. When reading this post on the retiré position, it would be useful to refer back to information posted on previous IADMS posts, as each new post now reinforces the anatomical truths that guide us as teachers. To quote Clara Fischer and Elsa Urmston,“We have all learned from experience: proper alignment is one of the basic building blocks for achieving the aesthetic line and form required for dance technique.”

Dancers and teachers cannot underestimate the importance of achieving correct pelvic alignment when practising or performing the retiré position, as it is a key position for the successful performance of many dance movements. Pirouettes and developpé are clearly affected by the placement of this position and the retiré influences the execution of many steps of virtuosity.


Pictured: Rebecca Blenkinsop
Photo by: Maggie Lorraine 

In this photograph (above) Rebecca is demonstrating a well aligned retire position en pointe. Note that her head is centred over her foot en pointe.

Points to remember when practising retiré:

Commencing in 5th position

The Supporting Leg.

  • Full transference of weight over the center of the supporting foot as the gesture leg leaves the floor. The dancer should be ready to rise to demi pointe without further adjustment of weight by ensuring the foot is controlled against the floor. Check that there is no pronation of the supporting foot.
  • Lengthen through the supporting hip maintaining pelvic alignment and the control of turnout of the supporting leg.

The Gesture Leg

  • The foot and ankle of the gesture leg retain alignment, no sickling or winging of the foot.
  • The thighbone or femur inserts into the hip socket or acetabulum from the front of the pelvis and the rotation of the thigh should occur from the turnout in the acetabulum, which is initiated by the deep rotator muscles.
  • The continued control of the deep rotator muscles and core muscles as the gesture leg passes through petit retiré to full retiré.
  • Maintain control of the femur extending from the acetabulum and maintain the knee, ankle and foot alignment. The appearance of the position will vary from student to student depending on their personal pelvic structure, however students should be encouraged to work with their respective physiques rather than meeting a “prescribed” position.
  • Remember “turnout is a verb” and the turnout muscles should continue to be active throughout.

          Thus the retiré position should demonstrate pelvic, shoulder, and head alignment.

Points to consider:

  • On the point of transference of weight from two feet to one foot it must be emphasized not to sink into the supporting hip as this action will result in loss of rotation and control in the supporting side.
  • The hip of the gesture leg must not be raised by lifting the thigh higher than can be controlled by the dancer. This will result in the weight moving off the supporting leg and pelvic alignment will be lost. The deep rotators cannot recruit efficiently when pelvic alignment has been sacrificed
  • Placing the foot too high at the side of the supporting knee can be problematic for some, as not all dancers possess the range of movement in the hip to accommodate this position of the foot and retain pelvic alignment. Many will anteriorly tilt their pelvis, which will result in loss of turnout, and the gluteal muscles will overwork to accommodate the position of the thigh.

When viewing this photograph (below, left) of Rebecca practising retiré it would appear that her retiré is turned out. Observing the same retiré from the side (below, right) we can see that Rebecca is far from turned out, her thigh is in reality inwardly rotating. 

   

 

Please follow this link to see how perfect alignment can work in steps of virtuosity - enjoy!
In this video Isabela Rodriques has an unfortunate slip when performing the coda of the Diana & Acteon pas de deux but later goes on to repeat the whole coda.  You will see that in both of these dancers the gesture leg in retiré is placed in front of the bodyline.

 

 

Maggie Lorraine

IADMS Dance Education Network Subcommittee

Leading Teacher in Ballet

The Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School 

 

Tags:  alignment  dancers  passe  pelvis  retire  teachers 

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Tring Park and IADMS present: Building a Dancer

Posted By Sarah Beck, Wednesday, May 13, 2015

On Sunday 10th May 2015 Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, UK, hosted a one day Professional Development Conference for dance teachers, in association with IADMS, entitled: Building a Dancer. An enthusiastic group of dance teachers, ranging from those working with professional and vocational dancers to grass roots community dance schools, gathered together to learn and discuss.

At the start of the day I was able to present a brief overview of the IADMS mission and the work IADMS does to achieve this. Key resources relevant to this group, such as the resource papers and the Bulletin for Dancers and Teachers were highlighted and copies of ‘The Challenge of the Adolescent Dancer’ paper flew off the promotion stand during the following coffee break.


Pictured: Rachel Rist

Former IADMS President, Director of Dance at Tring Park and Conference Organiser, Rachel Rist, gave the first presentation of the day which provided a detailed guide through a complex list of safe dance practice topics for teachers to navigate with a particular emphasis on ‘building a thinking dancer’ rather than an ‘obeying’ dancer. Principles highlighted and examples given were then beautifully demonstrated in practice to delegates who had the opportunity to watch Rachel in action teaching her Year 7 (11-12 year olds) Girls ballet class later in the afternoon. During this class the young students were highly engaged with their learning and went through a process of identifying, problem solving, and reflecting on their own technical and postural corrections through Rachel’s questioning and guidance. A particularly nice idea was asking each dancer to vocalise their ‘big learning’ and ‘small learning’ at the end of the lesson. Personally I found this approach to dance teaching incredibly positive as well as refreshing and inspiring.

Julie Pedrick, Pilates and Rehabilitation specialist at Tring Park, delivered a practical demonstration of some key conditioning exercises with three willing student volunteers. Working through all areas of the body, from the feet up, delegates gained an understanding of the important teaching points in each exercise and how they may be beneficial for their students.


Pictured: Julie Pedrick

After lunch, parallel sessions were offered. I attended a session introducing the teachers to certifications available through Safe in Dance International (SiDI). In this session Maggie Morris and Sonia Rafferty introduced the ten core principles examined by the course, which are drawn from a multidisciplinary examination of dance studio practice. 


Pictured: Maggie Morris and Sonia Rafferty

Alexander McKinven, Physiotherapist and IADMS Development Committee Chair, and Terry Wright, Deputy Director of Dance at Tring Park, talked us through (and demonstrated) the role of the central nervous system and an application of neuroscience in building the technique of dancers, with a particular focus on strategies of motor learning. 


Pictured: Alexander McKinven

With the day finishing with class observations, overall the conference did a fabulous job of bridging theory and practice; transforming all concepts discussed into tangible applications in the dance studio.  I personally now look forward to October 8th for the special interest group day: ‘A Day for Teachers’ at the IADMS 25th Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh to continue these discussions!

Tags:  regional conference 

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5 Questions With Amanda Clark

Posted By IADMS Student Committee, Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Our next featured member in the “5 Questions With…” column is our Student Committee Chair, Amanda Clark. Her areas of interest include dancer wellness, health, and education. Amanda will be graduating from Case Western Reserve University with an MFA in Contemporary Dance this May.


-How did you first get interested in dance science/medicine?

I chose to read Sally Fitt’s Dance Kinesiology textbook for a free reading assignment in my sophomore English class and once I finished the book I went to my favorite Science teacher and said “I know what I want to do when I grow up. I want to be a Dance Medicine Specialist.” He looked at me and said “What does that mean?” and I responded “I’m not quite sure. I’m not quite sure how I’ll get there, where I should study or what I should study, but I’m going to make it happen; I’ll call you when I do.” I loved dancing and knew I couldn’t stop doing what I was passionate about, but also had a passion for science and said “Yes! This is it!” I’ve been enjoying every step of my professional journey since that day.

 

-Are you currently participating in research? Can you give us your elevator pitch about your research area?

I presented the current iterations of my research that I have been participating in for the past two and a half years at the Annual Meeting in Basel, Switzerland. I hope to continue to finesse my study on attitudes and perceptions related to wellness screening and plan to publish in the future. My research is qualitative, and I am ever-curious about environmental & cultural effects on dancers’ attitudes and perceptions related to various health and wellness activities.

 

-Which annual meeting has been your favorite so far and why?

My favorite annual meeting was the 22nd Annual Meeting in Singapore. It will always hold a special place with me because it was my first experience as an IADMS member. I had heard about the organization through my undergraduate studies and always looked forward to the opportunity to join, attend the AM, and to hear what others in the field of Dance Medicine & Science are doing. It helped me realize how wide-spread yet close the community is. I was able to meet other student members, make new connections, and pick professionals’ brains. The innovations, findings, and studies that were presented helped me figure out what pathway I want to go down as a professional. 

 

-What is the best thing about being a student member of IADMS?

Being able to connect with and network with such a range of intelligent and creative individuals is great. Having resources available like the Educational Opportunities Document, the forums on the IADMS website, and social media connections to other students and young professionals from around the world make me feel like if I have any questions, want to connect with another student for research, or anything else I might need, I can get answers, discussion, and connected.

 

-What would you say to a student thinking of joining IADMS?

You should definitely join IADMS. The benefits are wonderful, the people are kind, the presentations at the Annual Meetings are inspiring, and the student committee is ever-helpful.

If you are interested in the Student Committee and its initiatives, contact us at student@iadms.org.

Special thanks to the “5 Questions With...” sub-committee, Andrea Alvarez and Siobhan Mitchell.

Tags:  5 Questions With  students 

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Dancer Wellness: Power, Empower and Educate! Mid-Atlantic IADMS Regional Conference

Posted By Janine Bryant and Gayanne Grossman, Friday, May 1, 2015

On April 26th members of IADMS held their first Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference entitled Power, Empower and Educate! at DeSales University in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, USA. 

Speakers were Megan Richardson of Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, and Gayanne Grossman, Muhlenberg College Director of Dance Wellness and instructor of Anatomy and Kinesiology, Physical Therapist to dancers through the Lehigh Valley Health Network, PA., IADMS Education Committee member and Editor-in-Chief of the IADMS Bulletin for Teachers. The day was moderated by Janine Bryant, Director of Dance Programs, Eastern University, PA., IADMS Education Committee member, and PhD Candidate, Wolverhampton University, UK.

The program included sessions on dance medicine and science topics including: Plyometrics for building power, points on pointe training and readiness and improving alignment through releasing of myofascial restrictions. Delegates also engaged with an IADMS promotional table. Sessions were well attended by dancers, teachers, choreographers, and directors of schools and companies, college students, medical practitioners, and dance scientists; leading to stimulating discussions on dance medicine and science within practical dance settings. Attendees came from as far away as Boston and Virginia.

 

This conference offered exposure of dance medicine and science to the Mid-Atlantic, Southeastern region of the USA. Conference organizers, Gayanne Grossman and Janine Bryant hope that this event will provide the inspiration for participants to attend the 25th Annual Meeting held within reasonable driving distance from the Mid-Atlantic conference venue in Pittsburgh, PA. this coming October 2015.


Conference Organizers:
Janine Bryant, Tim Cowart and Gayanne Grossman

Tags:  IADMS  regional conference  wellness 

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Dancing with the pelvis: Alignment, deviations, and mobility

Posted By Clara Fischer Gam and Elsa Urmston on behalf of the IADMS Education Committee, Thursday, April 30, 2015

In the latest post from the IADMS Education Committee we started a two-post discussion on pelvic structure and alignment. We looked at pelvic anatomy, motion and came up with ideas for putting these concepts into practice in class. This second post will focus on pelvic alignment and its relevance to movement execution in the studio.


Source: Getty Images

We have all learned from experience: proper alignment is one of the basic building blocks for achieving the aesthetic line and form required for dance technique. We know that many are the contributors for good skeletal alignment, but one area that plays a special role is the pelvis.

Practitioners and researchers comment on the importance of pelvic alignment. As mentioned in the previous post, when in a natural position in relation to the rest of the body, the pelvis assumes neutral alignment because the surrounding joints and muscles are balanced. Neutral pelvic alignment can help us to achieve efficient execution of dynamic movements and static positions and therefore more effective muscle recruitment. Not only might neutral pelvis facilitate body movements in general but it also seems to improve specific action at hip and lumbar spine.

How to find your neutral pelvis?

As well as the image below, have a look at this handy youtube film which helps you find neutral pelvis.  Place the tip of your index fingers on the symphysis pubis, resting each of your wrists on the tips of your front hip bones (right on those bony projections, called anterior superior iliac spines) and let your thumbs extend, nearly touching in the middle. Can you notice that your hands are now forming a triangle shape on the centre of your pelvis?  For a neutral pelvis, the triangle lines should be on the same plane, aligning these three bony landmarks.

When working with students, it’s good to keep in mind though that anatomical differences may occur from dancer to dancer, therefore the triangle alignment should be a reference for finding an individual neutral pelvis.

Pelvic deviations generally imply any alteration in posture from neutral but when it comes to dancers, anterior pelvic tilt (that is allowing the tailbone to flare backwards) appears to be more common.

Why is that?

Misalignment of the pelvis could be related to imbalanced use of muscles that control the pelvis, the lower portion of the trunk and hip, or to structural conditions.  Particularly, anterior pelvic tilt could be linked to lack of action of the deep rotators of the hip for turning out (we’ve mentioned before the key role that these muscles play, recap here. The misuse of the inner thigh muscles or poor core control to stabilize the turnout may increase this deviation still more (for more about the core check this post).

Dancers with anterior pelvic tilt might get tight hip flexors and possibly lower back pain, as it increases the angle of lumbar lordosis. Posterior pelvic tilt (tucking the tail under) is typified by a flat back-like deviation and commonly associated with tight hamstrings and gluteal muscles and weak quadriceps, hip flexors and spinal erectors. Generally, dancers with a misaligned pelvis either anteriorly or posteriorly can more easily develop vertebral stresses and knee, foot, and ankle injuries due to compensatory movements and excess of muscle tension during training.

Despite all the information available on pelvic alignment, there is still a question to be answered: Is there an ideal degree of pelvic tilt that should be maintained through our dance movements?  Pelvic mobility in dance seems to be a hot topic of discussion among dance practitioners, teachers and scientists. Undoubtedly, there are many steps that intentionally involve the pelvis (either as initiator of the action as observed in Graham Technique for example, or as a consequence of another movement). However, we know that some techniques  require  that some specific movements should be performed with neutral (or even immobile) pelvis. I wonder though to what extent the pelvis really is immobile in such movements?

In relation to this, Wilson and colleagues looked at a grande rond de jambe en l’air. In our training, most of us learned that the pelvis should be still for the whole time during grande rond de jambe en l’air both at and past 90°. Yet these researchers observed that amongst experienced dancers the pelvis itself is deeply involved in gesture leg range of motion, especially when the leg is raised past 90°. In order to move the leg fully at highly vertical angles, the pelvis seems to follow the leg - even though we aim for creating an illusion of an immobile pelvis.  In a follow-up study the role of the pelvis was examined in facilitating gesture leg motion, and the related “cost” of the muscles involved. For skilled dancers the effort in the gesture leg is smaller than in the standing leg. This was reversed in less skilled dancers. So we might conclude that the skilled dancers worked more efficiently in their standing leg to support the pelvis and gesture leg, whereas the less skilled dancers are mostly using the muscles in the gesturing leg.  A recommendation to the teacher might be to appreciate that when working on movements where one leg is moving fully, a strategy to focus on the standing leg will help balance the necessary movement in the pelvis and spine. Not allowing the pelvis to move commensurately with the gesturing leg will decrease the potential range of motion and place unnecessary stress on the hip joint and lumbar spine.


Source: Getty Images

But what about other movements where the pelvis should be neutral? Deckert suggests that the answer is multifaceted and individualized to each dancer. Introducing exercises for dancers which focus on increasing awareness through individualized anatomical education, motor control and promoting alignment habits may help dancers locate the neutral pelvis.

Integrating the following exercises into a dancer’s daily routine may also help:

• Increase abdominal strength; strong abdominals provide support for finding and maintaining a neutral pelvis.

• Stretch hip flexors, if they have become excessively tight from years of anterior pelvic tilt. Stretching them on a daily basis will allow the pelvis to settle into a more neutral position.

• “Pelvic clock” provides a first step toward improvement by increasing awareness of pelvic alignment: Lying on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor, tip the pelvis through full range of motion, starting at 12 o’clock with the navel and lower back pressed to the floor and moving through to 6 o’clock as the waist rises off the floor and the tailbone is the only part of the spine contacting the floor. Make certain not to miss any point of the clock, and repeat in a counterclockwise circle. This exercise forces you to explore the full range of motion available in the pelvis and find a neutral pelvic alignment.

What I enjoy the most about the quest for finding movement efficiency in dance, is that it always awakens further inquiry; which movements involve pelvic motion? Which should hold a neutral pelvis? Which body part is leading, following or supporting movement?

 

Keep Exploring:

IADMS Resources here and here.

 

Clara Fischer Gam, MSc.

Dance Science

Dance Education

Pilates Method

Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

Email: clara.figa@gmail.com

 

Elsa Urmston MSc PGCAP AFHEA is the DanceEast Centre for Advanced Training Manager, Ipswich, UK and a member of the IADMS Education Committee.

Email: elsa.urmston@danceeast.co.uk

Tags:  anatomy  dancers  pelvis  teachers 

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The Pelvis: The Meeting Point of the Body

Posted By Clara Fischer Gam on behalf of the IADMS Education Committee, Monday, April 27, 2015

We will get the week started with a post from the IADMS Education Committee. This is part 1 of a two-post discussion on pelvic structure and alignment. Today we will take a closer look at anatomy of the pelvis and share ideas for embodying these concepts in the studio.

 
Source: Getty Images

The pelvis as the “meeting point” of the body is a really clear analogy, as it is this structure that offers attachment for the legs and supports the spine and upper limbs. It plays a key part in bearing and transferring weight, it allows us to travel with dynamism as well as find balance and stability in the body.  Experiential anatomy allows us to really develop a sound working knowledge of the anatomical structure; linking theoretical knowledge and practical exercises in class can be really useful for developing movement strategies, enhancing quality and intention for dance technique.

So, how is the pelvis structured?

The pelvis is made up of two halves, the innominate bones (or simply, hip bones). Each one is formed from the fusion of three bones: ilium, pubis and ischium. Together, these three bones contribute to the hip socket that connects the pelvis to the femur (more about the hip joint in a previous post). 



Diagrams by Jake and Stuart Pett for IADMS

Anteriorly, the hip bones are connected by the symphysis pubis, a cartilaginous joint. Posteriorly, they connect to the sacrum through the sacroiliac joint. The upper part of the sacrum connects with the 5th vertebra of the lumbar spine (lumbosacral joint). For a more comprehensive anatomy of the pelvis, check out this great video.  

To bring about a more embodied knowledge of pelvic bones, I often encourage students to make use of touch as we go through anatomy concepts. Bone palpation activities can be easily applied to class when exploring anatomy of the pelvis. The author Andrea Olsen offers us a good suggestion:

Starting at a supine position, knees bent: trace the bones of the pelvis with the finger tips.

Firstly at the iliac crest, find the anterior superior iliac spines (ASIS), those bony projections at the front part of each hip bone. Then walk the fingers forward until the pubic symphysis.

Roll on your side: starting again at the iliac crest, trace the ilium back to the sacrum, feel the sacroiliac joint. Continue down the back of the pelvis and locate the ischial tuberosities (the "sitz" bones).

Flex the hip, and trace from the ischium to the pubic bone between the legs. Roll to the other side and repeat. You can find more experiential anatomy exercises on Olsen’s book, referred below.

 

Mainly, the pelvis moves as a whole: articulation occurs at the lumbosacral joint and at the heads of the femurs. It tilts anteriorly (allowing the tail bone to flare backward) posteriorly (tucking the tail bone under), laterally (lifting one side of the waist) and it also rotates (turn) for both sides. When watching students dancing, we may notice that ease of movement as well as restrictions for specific directions vary from dancer to dancer.

At a natural position in relation to the rest of the body, the pelvis is in the so-called neutral position: known for being the most stable and shock-absorbing for our structure, as surrounding joints and muscles are balanced.  Watch out for our next post, where we will discuss the importance of pelvic alignment for optimal performance! 

Something I really like to do to explore pelvic articulation and positioning is to practice the pelvic clock exercise as a warm-up in class (typical routine of Feldenkrais and Pilates sessions). That way, dancers can experiment with pelvic movements, discovering their own range of motion, restrictions and ultimately find their neutral pelvis. Watch a tutorial here.

 

Keep Exploring:

Olsen, A. Bodystories: A Guide to Experiential Anatomy. Lebanon: University Press of New England, 1991.

Calais-Germain, B. Anatomy of Movement. Seatle: Eastland Press, 2007.

Fitt, S. Dance Kinesiology. New York: Schirmer Books, Second Edition, 1996.

Salk, J. Teaching modern technique through experiential anatomy. Journal of Dance Education. 2005;3(3): 97-102.

Batson, G. Somatic studies and  dance. International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, 2009. Available here.

 


Clara Fischer Gam, MS.

Dance Science

Dance Education

Pilates Method

Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

 

Email: clara.figa@gmail.com

 

 

Tags:  anatomy  dancers  pelvis  teachers 

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IADMS 2015 Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Posted By Hannah Etlin-Stein, Monday, April 20, 2015

IADMS is now gearing up for another Annual Meeting and this year it is in Pittsburgh!

 

 


As IADMS is a diversely international community, the Annul Meeting is a fabulous way to explore a new city and culture, while connecting with the IADMS community.

For those who have never attended an Annual Meeting it's an experience unlike any other and can provide many benefits.

  1. Multidisciplinary- IADMS is unlike many professional organizations in that not only do our members come from all over the globe, but they come from different professional backgrounds as well. Dancers, educators, health care practitioners, students, physicians and dance enthusiasts all gather together to share their knowledge and passion for the health and wellbeing of dancers. This allows for interesting discussions to emerge between attendees with varying expertise.

  2. Networking - In a world where it is so easy to connect virtually with someone across the globe, it becomes even more important to continue to foster those face-to-face connections. IADMS Annual Meetings are a great place to meet and connect to the small yet vast dance science community. When I first presented at IADMS, I was amazed how many people came up to me after my presentation to tell me about research they were doing in a similar field. This type of networking is essential. Who knows - you might just meet your next research partner this year in Pittsburgh!

  3. Mentorship -Although growing yearly, one of the many qualities of IADMS is its intimacy. For a student or someone entering the dance science field, it is remarkable to turn to your left and realize you are sitting next to a researcher you have referenced numerous times. It’s also amazing that they will most likely be willing to talk to you and offer advice or mentorship. The relationships developed at Annual Meetings are critical and potentially career changing opportunities.

  4. The dance party - no other organization provides such an informative, inspiring and FUN Annual Meeting as IADMS. If you haven't been yet, you will witness how the IADMS members know how to simultaneously engage in meaningful scientific inquiry while being able to let loose and have fun.

This year the Annual Meeting will be held in Pittsburgh!! There are many things to do in this Vibrant city! What's cool about Pittsburgh you ask?

Pittsburgh Trivia:

  • In 1954 the first Polio vaccine was developed by Jonas Salk and his team at the University of Pittsburgh.

  • The first smiley faces emoticon is credited to have been invented in 1982 in Pittsburgh by a man named Scott Fahlman :)

  • Famous Pittsburghers include Martha Graham and Gene Kelly, dancers/choreographers we know and love.

  • Pittsburgh has the most certified 'green' buildings in the USA! Now how's that for a city!

Things to check out in Pittsburgh:

The Cathedral of Learning: Standing at 535 feet, the Cathedral of Learning is the tallest educational building in the Western hemisphere and the second tallest gothic-styled building in the world. This Pittsburgh landmark is the centrepiece of the University of Pittsburgh’s main campus. (pictured below)

 

 

Andy Warhol Museum: With over 900 paintings, 100 sculptures and numerous prints, photographs and videos, this museum covers work from all periods of Andy Warhol’s career.

Point State Park: This 36 acre state park located in downtown Pittsburgh is marked by one of the country’s largest iconic fountain. A beautiful landmark Pittsburgh is known for. (pictured below)

 

  

The Duquesne Incline: Open 365 days a year, this century-old cable car will provide the best views of downtown Pittsburgh. Scaling Mount Washington and one of the few remaining inclines in the country this is a must do in Pittsburgh. The Incline is also featured in Flashdance! (pictured at the top of article)

 

Hope to see you all in Pittsburgh for the IADMS 25th Annual Meeting, October 9-11 2015. For more information click here!

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