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5 Questions With…K. Michael Rowley

Posted By IADMS Student Committee, Monday, May 8, 2017

This month’s featured member is K. Michael Rowley of the University of Southern California. Michael is a PhD candidate working in the Jacquelin Perry Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Lab in the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy studying recurrent pain. His areas of interest include postural control, cognitive contributions to posture, dance injury prevention and recurrent low back pain.

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

Since grade school, I’ve been interested in the human body, biology, and movement. Separate from that, I pursued dance as a hobby in high school and minored in it at the University of Delaware (UD). It was there that Dr. Lynette Overby, a faculty member in the Dance Minor Program at UD, introduced me to the intersection of my two interests – dance and science. She recommended I look into IADMS, and I attended my first conference that year in Washington, D.C., USA. Dance is such a fruitful and rich field in which to observe, practice, and study concepts of human movement.

Pictured: Michael Rowley, Jeff Grimaldo, and Anne Grimaldo
of the Rudy Perez Ensemble in Santa Monica, CA.
Photo by Ben Licera.

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

In the Jacquelin Perry Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Lab, working under my advisor Dr. Kulig, we study problems of recurrent pain. One specific group of patients we investigate are dancers with flexor hallucis longus tendinopathy, a condition sometimes called “dancer’s tendinitis”. We test different modifications to relevé exercises as potential prevention or non-surgical treatment interventions. This research was funded by the American Physical Therapy Association Orthopaedic Section's Performing Arts Special Interest Group. Another population we study is persons suffering from recurrent low back pain. We investigate different mechanisms that may contribute to altered postural control in these persons even during periods of pain remission.

-What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to pursue a post-doc in order to expand my research knowledge and skills. After that, I’ll begin looking for a faculty position at a university where I can work closely with both a kinesiology or biomechanics department and a dance program. It’s a passion of mine to keep these two areas communicating and connecting so we can (a) learn how to improve dancer health and performance, (b) investigate general principles of movement and motor control by studying dancers, and (c) develop dance-like interventions for other populations and patient groups.

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


 Pittsburgh was my favorite annual meeting. Being my fourth meeting, professionals began recognizing me, saying hello, and asking about my work. It was very cool to start feeling part of the community. Also, my sister was in her senior year at the University of Pittsburgh studying Athletic Training. She also attended the meeting to learn about how to better treat dancers. We had so much fun being in a professional setting and learning together! I am very grateful for this experience that I know most siblings with diverse interests do not get to share. My sister, Whitney, has since graduated and is now an Athletic Trainer employed by UPMC and working with the dance students at Point Park University – using knowledge she gained from the IADMS meeting on a pretty-much-daily basis. We still chat often about what she’s learning while helping these dancers perform at their best and prevent and recover from injury.


Pictured: Michael Rowley and Whitney Rowley at IADMS2015 in Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

-In which ways has IADMS helped you grow in your field of study and what would you say to a student thinking of joining IADMS?


 IADMS has provided invaluable networking opportunities. Some of these have already begun paying off as we at USC have been able to collaborate with other dance science and health researchers in the area and internationally. As we’ve moved forward on our tendinopathy research, I’ve reached out to IADMS experts for help and advice from something as simple as “How do you quantify and define dance volume/exposure on your questionnaires?” to something as cool as being able to send ultrasound images and videos of the flexor hallucis longus tendon to international foot and ankle surgeons and experts to discuss potential abnormalities in the images. Other networking benefits I’m sure will continue to pay off as I look for post-doc and faculty positions. Not to mention simply how fun and friendly most of the dance medicine and science community is.


 If you’re interested, give it an honest shot. I think it’s easy to join for one year and attend the annual meeting when it’s near you. While that’s a great start and I’m sure you will benefit immensely from attending, to get the most out of IADMS it takes a commitment to the community. After two or three years attending and networking, you will start to see the community giving back. After the meeting, reach out to speakers and professionals you learned something from – introduce yourself, share your interests and goals, and thank them for the work they do. Pretty quickly, you’ll be able to express for yourself the benefits of being a part of the international dance medicine and science community.


Pictured: Michael Rowley and Pamela Oppenheimer.
Photo by Dan Dunlap.


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