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Snapping Hip Syndrome

Posted By Janine Bryant on behalf of the IADMS Education Committee, Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Do your dancers ever say, ‘My hip snaps or pops when I do grand battement or developpe´ devant or a´ la seconde’?

 

The snap sometimes presents with pain but sometimes not, and happens either on the up phase or down phase of the movement. Dancers might also notice decreased range of motion through multiple planes of movement. .

Snapping or clicking hip is common in dancers and athletes who regularly move through range of motion extremes, experience some degree of tendinitis, and repeat abduction of the legs above waist level.  With proper diagnosis and care, the condition can be addressed in a timely way so that the dancer does not lose too much rehearsal and class time.

 

Usually painless and harmless, a snapping hip can happen as a result of a tendon or muscle passing over a bony structure. It can occur frequently in dancers in three ways:

 

·         Lateral Snapping Hip (Iliotibial band syndrome), which is more common, involves movement of the iliotibial (IT) band moving over the greater trochanter (large bony structure on the head of the thigh bone) and is also referred to as external snapping hip syndrome. A clue to diagnosis of this condition may be the inability to adduct past anatomic neutral, an anatomical position where the two bones that form a joint are parallel to one another, - with the bones parallel and joint space uniform, this creates ‘anatomical neutral’. A more likely indicator, however, is the location of the pain along with palpable tenderness.  Pain to the lateral (outside) side of the knee as well as pain at the lateral hip can occur simultaneously and could be symptomatic of lateral snapping hip. Initially, there may be a sensation of stinging or needle-like pricks that are often ignored. This can gradually progress to pain every time the heel strikes the ground and finally can become disabling with pain when walking or when climbing up or down steps. (1,2,3)

 

 

      

 

 

·         Anterior Snapping Hip presents as a kind of clicking or snapping, as the iliopsoas tendon passes over the iliopectineal eminence on the front of the pelvis or pelvic brim. This can be caused by inflammation of the bursa that lies between the front of the hip joint and the iliopsoas muscle. A cartilage tear or bits of broken cartilage or bone in the joint space can cause snapping, or a loose piece of cartilage can cause the hip to ‘lock up’. (2)

 

 

·         Intra-Articular Snapping Hip (intra-articular meaning inside the joint) results from capsular instability caused by muscular imbalance, skeletal inconsistencies, such as a leg length discrepancy or bony deformity, or previous injury to the hip joint or from a labral tear. Dancers with this condition may experience decreased range of motion in the hip and a painful click directly inside the joint caused by bony instability resulting from hip dysplasia or excessive congruency resulting from Femoral Acetabular Impingement (FAI). (2)

 

Treatment:   Dancers could benefit from physical therapy to strengthen the surrounding musculature, improve flexibility, restore function, and prevent re-injury.  Movement reeducation and progressive resistance training might also prove effective. (6) Dancers may need to temporarily reduce rehearsal/class regimen as part of recovery/management of the syndrome.

 

Please refer to the examples below.

 

 

 

 

Resources for further reading:

1.       Keene S, Coxa saltans: iliopsoas snapping and tendinitis. Hip Arthroscopy and Hip Joint Preservation Surgery.2014; 64(1):1-16.

 

2.       Lewis CL. Extra articular snapping hip: A literature review. Sports Health.2010; 2(3):186-90.

 

3.       Grumet RC, Frank R, Slabaugh M, Verkus W, Bush-Joseph C, Nho S. Lateral hip pain in an athletic population: differential diagnosis and treatment options. Sports Health. 2010;2(3):191–196.

 

4.       Battaglia M, Guaraldi F, Monti C, Vanel D, Vaninni F. An unusual cause of external snapping hip. J Radiol Case Rep, 2011; 5(10)1–6.

 

5.       Reiman, M P, Thorborg K. Clinical examination and physical assessment of hip jointrelated pain in athletes. International J Sports Phys Ther.2014; 9(6): 737–755.

 

6.       Laible C, Swanson D, Garofolo G, Rose DJ. Iliopsoas syndrome in dancers. Ortho J Sports Med.2013; 1-3.

 

7.       Weber A E.The hyperflexible hip: Managing hip pain in the dancer and gymnast. Sports Health 2015:7(4); 346–358.

 

8.       Frank RM, Slaubaugh M, Grumet RC, Verkus W, Bush-Joseph C, Nho S. Posterior hip pain in an athletic population: Differential diagnosis and treatment options, Sports Health.2010; 2(3): 237–246.

 

9.       Lee S, Kim I, Lee SM, Lee J. “Ischiofemoral impingement syndrome.Ann Rehabil Med. 2013; 37(1): 143–146.

 

10.    Sobrino, F J, Crótida C,  Guillén P.Overuse injuries in professional ballet: Injury-based differences among ballet disciplines.Orthopaedic J Sports Med, 2015; 3(6).

 

11.    Smith PJ, Gerrie BJ, Varner KE, McCulloch PC, Linter DM, Harris JD. Incidence and prevalence of musculoskeletal injury in ballet: A systematic review.Orthop J Sports Medicine, 2015; 3(7).

 

12.    Domb BG, Shindle MK, McArthur B, Voos JE, Magennis EM, Kelly BT. Iliopsoas impingement: A newly identified cause of labral pathology in the hip. HSS J.2011; 7(2): 145–150.

 

13.    Pun  S, Kumar D, Lane NE. Femoroacetabular impingement,  Arthritis Rheumatol, 2015; 67(1): 17–27.

 

14.    Sajko S, Stuber K. Psoas major: A case report and review of its anatomy, biomechanics, and clinical implications. The J Canadian Chiro Assoc. 2009; 53(4): 311–318.

 

 

Janine Bryant, BFA, PhD (ABD) is Senior Lecturer at the School of Arts at The University of Wolverhampton in the UK.  She is also a Registered Safe in Dance International Certificate Provider and member of the IADMS Education Committee.

 

Tags:  dancers  hips  injury  pain  teachers 

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Student Events at the 2016 Conference in Hong Kong

Posted By IADMS Student Committee, Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Our Annual Conference is fast approaching and there are some exciting student events this year!

 

Our student social is a great way to meet new faces before the conference begins and to network with Dance Science students from across the globe! This years’ student social will take place the Wednesday before the conference begins to give you a chance to meet up in person before attending the conference.

Other student events and sessions include our student and young professionals networking event, the student roundtable and presentations on The future of dance medicine & science: An IADMS student survey, and Building your career: how to establish and foster a mentor-mentee partnership in your interest area – see details below!

 

Student Social

Our student social is a great way to meet new faces before the meeting begins and to network with Dance Science students from across the globe!

What?

Networking and drinks with IADMS student members

When?

Wednesday 19th October, 7pm

Where?

Meeting on the steps in front of the Jockey Club Amphitheatre at the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts. 

 

Student Roundtable

What?

An opportunity to gain insights from an international group of students on a range of topics and issues affecting students of dance medicine and science.

When?

Friday 21st October, 2pm – 3.30pm

Where?

Atrium Lounge 1st Floor

 

Building your career: how to establish and foster a mentor-mentee partnership in your interest area

What?

For many aspiring dancers, clinicians, educators, and researchers, locating a mentor or an advisor in fields of interest as specific as those in dance medicine and science can be a daunting task. This talk will provide information for students and recent graduates about the value of having a career mentor and will discuss the process of finding, pursuing, and building a mentorship relationship. Topics will include: how to utilize peers and school resources to make connections with potential mentors, suggestions for contacting and pursuing potential mentors, ways to develop and maintain an ongoing mentor - mentee relationship, and tips for being an excellent mentee candidate.

When?

Saturday October 22, 4.45pm – 5pm

Where?

Recital Hall

 

The future of dance medicine & science: An IADMS student survey

What?

The IADMS Student Committee will present a retrospective snapshot of student membership and Educational Opportunities to illustrate a clear picture of the future of Dance Medicine & Science within the IADMS community to answer a question of “where is this field headed based on the current student interest?”

When?

Saturday October 22, 5pm – 5.15pm

Where?

Recital Hall

 

Student and Young Professional Networking Workshop

What?

An opportunity for students to connect with professionals and to build networks in their area of interest.

When?

Saturday October 22, 5.30pm – 6.30pm

Where?

Studio 8

 

Tags:  Annual Conference  Annual Meeting  students 

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Stretching the Point: Part 2

Posted By Gabrielle Davidson and Maggie Lorraine on behalf of the IADMS Education Committee, Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In Part 1 of “Stretching the Pointe” we discussed some issues that may arise as a result of incorrect use of the foot and faulty foot alignment in training.

 

Anatomical information about the foot is available in previous blog posts here.

 

In discussing the foot and the dancer, there are a few specific injuries and conditions that need to be taken into account to further strengthen the argument for ensuring correct alignment and muscle activation when teaching young dancers how to pointe their feet.

    


One of the most common of these injuries is posterior impingement of the ankle. This is when tissues at the back of the ankle are inflamed and prevent full ankle range into plantarflexion (pointing, demi pointe or pointe). This can either be due to compression of the soft tissues between the posterior edge of the tibia, the talus bone and the superior calcaneus [1] or irritation of the tendon sheath of the FHL (flexor hallucis longus- the muscle that controls the big toe into plantar flexion- full pointe)[4]. Posterior impingement and FHL tenosynovitis can go hand in hand and are often caused by the repetitive nature of dancers rising to demi pointe and pointe, and also pointing their feet [5]. It is thought that poor coordination of the lower leg and intrinsic foot muscles can exacerbate this condition. The condition can also arise after a sprained ankle and forced plantar flexion injuries, and in some cases has also been attributed to the presence of an os trigonum, a small bone that sometimes develops behind the ankle bone (talus bone). The os trigonum is a normal part of the ankle anatomy but sometimes fails to fuse with the talus therefore creating a small ‘extra’ bone in the ankle, and this can sometimes increase the effect of posterior impingement [1,3].

 

FHL tenosynovitis is frequently seen in female ballet dancers. It has been called “dancer’s tendinitis” but research has found that the condition is rarely a pathology of the tendon itself but of the sheath surrounding the tendon [1,2,3]. As mentioned above it can be part of the posterior impingement syndrome. The flexor hallucis longus muscle originates from the back of the fibula (outer lower leg bone/ lateral lower leg bone), then travels down along the inside of the lower leg and ankle where it inserts into the base of the big toe via the tendon. Its primary role is to flex the big toe assisting to pointe the foot (into plantar flexion), stabilise the foot and ankle as the dancer rises to demi pointe, and assist the foot to rise to full pointe [4].

 

The repetitive change in foot position from full plantar flexion (on pointe position) to full dorsiflexion (plié position) can cause this FHL tendon sheath to become inflamed [5], especially if it is not being supported by the other ankle and intrinsic foot muscles.


  


The repetitive loading of bones, especially in the feet, in activities such as fouettés (repetitive plantar flexion action of one foot on and off pointe) or landing from a series of repetitive jumps may cause bony stress. This is when loading of the bone outweighs its ability to recover and remodel, therefore leading to weakening of the bone structure itself and the resulting stress reactions or fractures [6,9].

 

Dancers are susceptible to a unique fracture at the base of the second metatarsal called the “dancer’s fracture” that is rare in other athletes and possibly as a result of the demi pointe and pointe work they carry out whilst dancing [5,7]. Controlling the amount of load a dancer is undertaking and controlling the rate at which this is increased, as well as making sure they have sufficient muscle support in both their feet and ankles will always help to reduce the risk of these overuse injuries.

 

Injuries to the mid foot in dancers while rare, can be debilitating [5]. The mid foot comprises the navicular, cuboid and three cuneiform bones. It stabilises the arch and transfers the forces generated by the calf, to the front of the foot during the stance phase of gait, so in dance terms this is whenever the dancer moves through their feet either rising or jumping. Acute cuboid subluxation may occur with ankle sprains, overuse of the peroneal muscles during repetitive movements such as rising up and down from pointe and excessive pronation of the foot, although the precise mechanism has not been proven [8]. Stress fractures and fractures of the navicular bone can be a career ending injury for a dancer.

 

  


Lisfranc injuries are injuries that occur to any part of the articulations of the 5 long metatarsal bones with the tarsal bones. These bones are connected by thick plantar ligaments (found on the underside of the bones) and strengthened by the tendons of tibialis posterior, peroneal tendons as they wrap under the foot and tibialis anterior tendon over the top of the arch. The Lisfranc ligament is the only ligament that binds the first and second metatarsal bones [8]. The mechanism of injury to this area in dancers may result from trauma to the foot of the female dancer when performing advanced pas de deux choreography where the edge of the pointe shoe sticks against an irregular floor surface when being slid along the foot by her partner. It can also occur from missed jump landings, during pirouettes/spins or during take-off for a jump [5].

 

Of course there are many more injuries that can occur in the course of a young dancer’s life but these are just a few of the main ones seen in the feet and ankles, some of which can be reduced with particular technique training and attention given to the development of specific muscle activity in the calves and intrinsic muscles of the feet, as mentioned in the previous blog post from the Education Committee.

 

The biggest message for young dancers, is to not allow pain to continue for too long. Seek treatment earlier rather than later to prevent too much time out of the studio and take heed of exercises and advice given by health professionals as their aim will always be to get you back dancing as soon as possible and for as long as possible.

 

Gabrielle Davidson and Maggie Lorraine

B.PHTY(HONS)              Leading teacher at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School

 

 

 

 

References:

[1] Russell J.A., Kruse D.W., Koutedakis Y., McEwan I.M., Wyon M. Pathoanatomy of posterior ankle impingement in ballet dancers. Clin Anat. 2010;23:613–621.

 

[2] Hamilton WG, Geppert MJ, Thompson FM. Pain in the posterior aspect of the ankle in dancers. J Bone Joint Surg Am 1996; 78 (10): 1491-1500.

 

[3] Peace,KA., Hillier, JC., Hulme,A., Healy, JC. MRI features of Posterior Ankle Impingement Syndrome in Ballet Dancers: A Review of 25 Cases. Clinical Radiol 2004: 59:1024-1033

 

[4] Kirane,YM., Michelson,JD., Sharkey, NA. Contribution of the Flexor Hallucis Longus to Loading of the First Metatarsal and  First Metatarsaophalangeal joint. Foot Ankle Int 2008; 29(4):367-377

 

[5] Kadel,N MD. Foot and Ankle Problems in Dancers.Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am 2014; 25: 829-844

 

[6] Davidson, G., Pizzari,T., & Mayes, S. The Influence of Second Toe and Metatarsal Length on Stress Fractures at the Base of the Second Metatarsal in Classical Dancers. Foot and Ankle International  2007;28: 1082-1086

 

[7] Micheli, L. J., Sohn, R. S., & Solomon, R. Stress fractures of the second metatarsal involving Lisfranc's joint in ballet dancers. A new overuse injury of the foot. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 1985; 67(9), 1372-1375.

 

[8] emdedicine.medscape.com. Lisfranc Fracture Dislocation

Trevino, SG., Early, JS., Wade, AM., Vallurupalli, S., Flood, DL

 

[9] Mayer, SW MD., Joyner, PW MD., Almekinders, LC MD., Parekh, SG MD MBA. Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle in Athletes. Sports Health 2015: 6(6), 481-557.  

 

Kadel, N. J. Foot and ankle injuries in dance. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America 2006; 17(4), 813-826.

 

O'Malley, M. J., Hamilton, W. G., Munyak, J., & DeFranco, M. J. Stress fractures at the base of the second metatarsal in ballet dancers. Foot & ankle international 1996; 17(2), 89-94.

 

An interesting videowhich highlights the horror for a dancer of a career threatening injury:

Portrait of a Dancer: Lauren Cuthbertson

 

 

Tags:  dancers  foot  injury  teachers 

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Stretching the Point

Posted By Maggie Lorraine on behalf of the IADMS Education Committee, Monday, August 15, 2016

Learning how to bend the knees and point the feet may be the first movements that dance students learn. It is sobering to consider that both of these movements are potentially harmful if not executed correctly and practiced in perfect alignment.  Experienced teachers of children and young people often notice that by encouraging students to “stretch” their feet rather than “point”, they are less likely to crunch their toes. Crunching results in a “shortened” line of the foot. On the other hand, “stretching” encourages the students to lengthen the leg through to the ankle and arch of the foot.  Anatomically speaking we are talking here about plantarflexion of the ankle of course, although this actual term is seldom used in a teaching context.


 

The pointed or stretched foot is the image that we so closely identify with classical ballet and arguably the control of the stretched foot whilst dancing is one of the skills that may take the longest to master.  It requires repetition throughout the dancers’ training to ensure sound alignment.  When teaching young children to dance it is important to consider the bone development of the body, which is called ossification. The completion of growth in a tubular (long) bone is indicated by the fusion or closure of the epiphyses (growth plates), located at each end of the long bone.  The long bones of the feet are the metatarsals – full anatomical information about the foot is available in previous blog posts hereThe final epiphysis to close does so at an average age of 16 years in boys and 14 years in girls (1). Of course, dancing can place added stress on growing bones and negligent dance training may also affect the development of the bony structures - repetitive trauma in training and increased impact due to poor biomechanical alignment can cause the epiphyseal plate to widen, rather than close (2).

 

It is acknowledged that foot and ankle injuries are the most prevalent injuries in classical ballet in both the student and professional population (3). The extreme position of the foot and ankle when dancing on demi pointe, (see illustration b) where the ankle is in full plantarflexion, the body weight is distributed on the ball of the foot, or en pointe, where the dancer is on the tips of her toes (see illustration c), the weight of the body is carried through the ankle joint, and the longitudinal axis of the foot may put the dancer at risk of injury.  Poor training, alignment, and faulty technique are all contributing factors to injury. Dancers, like athletes, are prone to common overuse injuries but they are also vulnerable to unique injuries, due to the extreme demands of ballet.

 

 

Teaching students how to align their feet and ankles, avoiding the urge to sickle (invert) or fish or wing (evert) when stretching their feet, and also ensuring that they do not crunch their toes (in an attempt to achieve the illusion of a high arch) will hopefully assist the student in avoiding serious foot problems. These issues will be exacerbated when the dancer rises on demi or full pointe. The control of the ankle when rising in an aligned position is a strengthening action.  However, when the ankle and foot is not aligned the action of weight bearing is potentially injurious.

 

 

Frequently students crunch their toes in an attempt to point their feet harder and consequently this action contracts the muscles of the foot causing the joints of the foot and ankle to compress.  Unfortunately, due to the students wearing shoes, the teacher does not always notice this problem, and the repetitive action possibly results in weakness in the intrinsic foot muscles and overuse of the extrinsic foot muscles, though this reasoning needs to be investigated scientifically. The issue sets up a pattern in the use of the foot that results in the toes crunching both when rising on demi pointe.  Strengthening the intrinsic foot muscles could potentially enable the middle joint of the toes to remain lengthened while stretching the foot. Research groups around the world are currently investigating just such possibilities and continually present their progress at annual IADMS conferences.


As teachers, we know that the habits that are developed in early training always affect the student in later years when greater complexity of training is introduced. Setting up the pattern amongst our students that they should strive to hold their feet evenly on the floor and keep their toes stretched out along the surface of the floor will help. While the feet are bearing the body’s weight they should be holding the ground at three points - one behind the back of the heel, and two in front of the heads of the first and fifth metatarsals. This triangle forms a base from which the muscles and soles of the feet can work to support the arch and align the feet. Potentially this will assist in the recruitment of the intrinsic foot muscles.

           

The intrinsic muscles are like the “core” muscles of the foot.  Because they are deep and don’t cross over too many joints, they can work well in stabilizing and protecting the arch and structures within the foot.  If the foot intrinsic muscles are weak, the foot structures are more prone to increased stress and injury.  Strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot is good for people with foot injuries and for those looking to prevent injury”(4).

 

Supporting the arches whilst standing all helps in ensuring strong, adaptable feet for dancing.

 

 

The extreme positions created when dancing on pointe are particularly hazardous if the body and foot are not physically ready to deal with the weight of the body on pointe. IADMS has produced a really useful guide to point readiness available here.

 

In conclusion movement habits practiced in early training can have a profound effect on the young dancer’s development and their potential for injury.  By laying the foundation of sound alignment the teacher will empower the student to achieve their goals with reduced potential for injury.  Celia Sparger describes it well: 

           

"It cannot be too strongly stressed that pointe work is the end result of slow and gradual training of the whole body, back, hips, thighs, legs, feet, co-ordination of movement and the 'placing' of the body, so that the weight is lifted upwards off the feet, with straight knees, perfect balance, with a perfect demi-pointe, and without any tendency on the part of the feet to sickle either in or out or the toes to curl or crunch. “

 

The IADMS Education Committee will post a follow up article describing possible foot and ankle conditions and injuries that may impact on the dancer written by Gabrielle Davidson who is the Physiotherapist of the Dance Department at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School.

 

Maggie Lorraine

Leading Teacher in Ballet at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. Australia.

Member of the IADMS Education Committee

 

References

(1) Weiss, D., Rist, R. and Grossman, G. Guidelines for initiating pointe training.  IADMS Resource Paper, 2009.  Available here.

 

(2) Laor T, Wall EJ, Vu LP. Physeal widening in the knee due to stress injury in child athletes. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2006; 186(5): 1260–1264.

 

(3) Foot and Ankle Injuries in Dance.  Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America December 2006.  

 

(4) Amy McDowell, P.T From ARC Physical Therapy Blog

 

Further resources

Common Foot and Ankle Ballet Injuries

Dancing Child: Foot Development and Proper Technique

 

Micheli, L. J., Sohn, R. S., & Solomon, R. (1985). Stress fractures of the second metatarsal involving Lisfranc's joint in ballet dancers. A new overuse injury of the foot. J Bone Joint Surg Am, 67(9), 1372-1375.

 

O'Malley, M. J., Hamilton, W. G., Munyak, J., & DeFranco, M. J. (1996). Stress fractures at the base of the second metatarsal in ballet dancers. Foot & ankle international, 17(2), 89-94.

 

Wiesler, E. R., Hunter, D. M., Martin, D. F., Curl, W. W., & Hoen, H. (1996). Ankle flexibility and injury patterns in dancers. The American journal of sports medicine, 24(6), 754-757.

 

Kadel, N. J. (2006). Foot and ankle injuries in dance. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America, 17(4), 813-826.

 

O'Malley, M. J., Hamilton, W. G., Munyak, J., & DeFranco, M. J. (1996). Stress fractures at the base of the second metatarsal in ballet dancers. Foot & ankle international, 17(2), 89-94.

Tags:  dancers  foot  teachers  toes 

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Putting on a Conference: An Interview with IADMS Day for Teachers organizer Brenton Surgenor

Posted By IADMS Program Committee, Monday, August 8, 2016

A Day for Teachers is an important part of the annual IADMS programme. This popular event evolves year by year depending on where it is and who is organizing it. To find out exactly how the programme is developed I sat down with this year’s organizer, Brenton Surgenor, to find out what makes A Day for Teacher Hong Kong unique.


  


(1) How do you go about producing a Special Interest Day that is both educational and appealing?

 

Well that’s easy. I’ve been to going to IADMS conferences since 2010 and always attend A Day for Teachers (ADFT).  This experience has given me a good idea of who attends and what sort of content dance educators are looking for.  Firstly, I thought it was important to incorporate some practical session - which in Hong Kong will be Franklin Method for Dancers presented by Morten Dithmer. Then I felt it important to include a “hot topic” which this year is Nutrition for Dancerspresented by Frankie Siu from the Hong Kong Sports institute (which just happens to coincide with the IADMS Education Committees new resource paper on nutrition).  Finally, I wanted to include a panel discussion so dance educators could ask their burning dance science questions and get advice and support from our panel of experts.

 

(2) Who is involved in putting together A Day for Teachers?

 

Like so many advocates for the wonderful work of IADMS, I’m a bit of a Dance Science one-man band here in Hong Kong.  So the first thing I did was consult with local dance teachers to see what they thought was important to include.  Once I had an outline and some initial ideas I then sort the guidance and advice from my international colleagues (Edel Quin, Erin Sanchez and Margaret Wilson) who were instrumental in finalizing the programme and presenters. So I would say this has definitely been a team effort.

 

(3) Every Special Interest Day is different so what do you think is different or special about this year’s?

 

A Day for Teachers Hong Kong is unique because this year it’s nested within the main IADMS conference.  In the morning ADFT delegates have specially designed programme and then in the afternoon ADFT delegates are invited to attend any of the presentations or movement session offered as part of the main IADMS conference.  This is exciting as it means that our ADFT delegates will have the opportunity to be a part of the main IADMS conference and to meet and share ideas with delegates from across the world.  In this way it fully reflects IADMS commitment to inclusivity and introduces new delegates to the wonderful world of Dance Medicine and Science.

 

(4) What do you think you are most looking forward to about A Day for Teachers or conference as a whole? 

 

For me it’s all about learning.  And by this I mean knowing what is current in the field of dance medicine and science.  Dance medicine and science is evolving very quickly and there is always something new being discovered. By utilizing the knowledge I learn by attending an IADMS conference, it ensures that my students at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts have the best opportunity to be happy, healthy and performing at their very best.



 

Tags:  conference 

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Putting on a Conference: An Interview with the IADMS Program Committee Chair Alexander McKinven

Posted By IADMS Program Committee, Monday, August 1, 2016
Alexander McKinven is the IADMS Program Committee Chair and works year-round to prepare for the IADMS Conference. Here are his answers to a few questions we had about what goes into planning a conference.

 

1)       How do you go about producing a conference that is both educational and appealing?

 

As a multi-profession organisation, it is so important that the conference is relevant to all members. We are relatively guided by the abstracts submitted each year but do balance this with clinical symposia choices.

The program committee has continued to develop our selection process to ensure the highest quality of presenters are selected for conference and want to ensure that the association is at the forefront of dance medicine and dance science development.

As this is our second time in Asia, we have tried to harness the expertise from Australasia and the Indian subcontinent.

 

2)       Who is involved in putting together the conference program?

 

It truly is a combined effort from SO many people. The program committee are responsible for the scientific content of the program but behind the scenes we have the blinded reviewers for the abstract selection, the IADMS IT personnel, the local host committee and the education committee of IADMS who specifically help develop the special interest group day. This year, the work of IADMS member Brenton Surgenor and Hong Kong Doctor Jason Brockwell have been instrumental in these SIG days.

 

3)       What timeline do you have to work to leading up to the conference?

 

The conference work is ongoing throughout the year.

After each conference we review the delegates’ feedback and see how we can implement the members’ views to improve the next conference.

At the start of the year we ensure that all the systems are in place for when the call for abstracts goes out. Once all the abstracts are submitted the program committee work exceptionally hard to review and select the very best for conference. I am excited for our members to see the Hong Kong schedule once it is released and am so proud and thankful to the team that I have lead this year.

 

4)       Every annual meeting is different so what do you think is different or special about this year’s?

 

The IADMS conference is three and half days long this year, with the special interest group days called A day for Teachers and A day for Medics, running concurrently within the main program. This decision was taken in line with IADMS mission statement, to raise the standard of the SIG days and to work with the local community where the conference is taking place. China is such a vibrant country and the opportunity to learn and work with the local community of Hong Kong is exciting. I am very much looking forward to seeing some of the performances that have been lined up and exploring the wonderful culture of the East.

 

5)       What do you think you are most looking forward to about the conference?

 

There are some fantastic presentations this year. What I look forward to most is attending a talk or movement session on a topic I know relatively little about. I really believe that this cross collaboration is what makes the IADMS conferences unique and would urge delegates to expand their knowledge and challenge their benefits by trying something beyond their professional norms.

Tags:  Conference 

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Getting ready for the conference: Students and Young Professionals

Posted By the IADMS Student Committee, Thursday, July 14, 2016

The annual conference is fast approaching and it’s time to start making plans. This year the exciting city of Wanchai, Hong Kong will be on the map as the second Asian location for the meeting to be held. Here are a few things we’ve been thinking about in preparation for heading to the tropical paradise in a cosmopolitan city, which happens to have the highest density of 7-Eleven shops in the world AND the world’s largest collection of skyscrapers…

 

Accommodation

If you’re looking to meet up with other student members AND cut some costs why not find a roommate on our student forum. Don’t forget that you need a current membership to access the forums! This can be a great way to get to know other members and will mean you have company finding your way to/from the conference. If you’re in the UK and are looking for a roommate, you might also want to join the Dance Science Study UK Facebook group and share a post there, we’ve met loads of great new people this way!

 

Travel

Getting between the airport and the city…

You might want to start thinking about your travel plans for when you arrive in Hong Kong. This way, instead of feeling flustered when you arrive you can take in the sights and sounds of Hong Kong!

The airport express is the fastest way to get between the airport and the city, reaching Hong Kong Island in around 24 minutes. Airport Express allows free in-town check-in services for major airlines; passengers are also able to take a free shuttle bus from Kowloon and Hong Kong stations to major hotels. More information on the free shuttle bus here.

 

Getting to the conference venue…

Planning your route between where you’re staying and the conference venue ahead of time will also help you to make the most of your time in Hong Kong. If you’re presenting or hoping to make it to the conference for a particular session or workshop, you don’t want to be worrying about how to get there.

The quickest and most efficient way to get around Hong Kong is traveling via the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) system. It covers major districts in Hong Kong, which includes stops at the boundary with Mainland China (Lok Ma Chau Station and Lo Wu Station). 

The Academy is located roughly mid-way between the Admiralty and Wanchai MTR stations, although it is slightly closer to Admiralty (take exit D signposted to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts).

Another option is to use the bus. Buses in Hong Kong are comfortable, plentiful and mostly air-conditioned. They are popular for watching the great views from the top deck of the double-deckers.

Bus route guide for the conference venue:

A) A12, 18, 18P, 18X, 40M, 590, 720, 720A, 722, 780, 788

B) 2, A12, 18, 18P, 18X, 70, 104, 260, 307, 309, 590, 720, 720A, 720P, 722, 780, 788, 930A, 930X, 967X, 969X


Connecting with other students

The IADMS annual conference offers a unique opportunity to connect with peers and professionals who specialise in dance medicine and science. Here’s our top tips on how to make the most of this opportunity…

Top tips

·         Attend the student social – this is a great way to meet other students before the conference even begins!

·         Attend a roundtable – this can be a great way to meet other students and professionals in your area. There is also the student roundtable, an opportunity to discuss key issues with students in dance medicine and science

·         Check out the student networking session – this session brings together professionals from a wide range of dance medicine and science disciplines and gives you an opportunity to meet peers in your research area and to get to know the professionals in your area too.

·         Networking – put yourself out there and try to talk to as many new faces as possible. The IADMS conference is a great place to make new connections and to talk to professionals who are as passionate about dance science as you are!

·         Introduce yourself to the Student Committee - we’re really friendly and love getting to know other young people who share our passions J

 

Getting the most out of the conference

In addition to connecting with other students and professionals you want to make sure that you get the most out of what’s on offer at the conference and in the city of Hong Kong.

Top tips

·         Attend a variety of sessions not just your main area and try to sit down with the conference schedule before you go and plan out the sessions you want to check out

·         Be brave – ask questions during the sessions and get involved!

·         If you don’t fancy asking questions during the formal sessions, attend a roundtable. The roundtable is a great opportunity to engage in discussion with a smaller group of people on a more specific topic.

·         Make the most of your breaks – use this time to try to get to know new faces at the conference and to talk to new people.

·         Make the most of any free time to explore the city – this is one of the perks of being a part of an international association!

 

Student Events

Getting involved with student events can really help you to make the most out of your time at the conference and the events we have on offer mean that you can get to know some new faces before the conference even begins!

Student social

Our student social is a great way to meet other students before the meeting begins and to network with Dance Medicine and Science students from across the globe! This years’ student social will take place the Wednesday before the conference begins to give you a chance to meet up in person before attending the conference.

 

Other student events and sessions include our student and young professionals networking event, the student roundtable and presentations on The future of dance medicine & science: An IADMS student survey and Building your career: how to establish and foster a mentor-mentee partnership in your interest area

 

Little things…

Something as small as having the right travel charger can be the key to making your trip a success.

Travel chargers – The electric power is 220 Volt, 50 Hertz. A power converter is necessary to avoid damage to computers designed specifically for 120 V. Hong Kong uses a Type G electrical plug that has three rectangular blades in a triangular pattern and has an incorporated fuse (usually a 3 amps fuse for smaller appliances such as a computer and a 13 amps one for heavy duty appliances such as heaters). Check out this website for info on what type of adapter you will need.

 

Watch this space! More details to come on our student events in our upcoming blog posts :)

Tags:  Annual Meeting  Conference  students 

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Foot Injuries in Dancers. Are they preventable?

Posted By Maggie Lorraine on behalf of the IADMS Education Committee, Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Perfecting the art of dance requires long hours of intensive training over many years with constant repetitions of exercises to refine and perfect the execution of sequences and movements. Dance places high demands on the body and for this reason professional dance training institutions often include physique testing, conducted by the resident physiotherapist as part of the audition process. Subsequently even the physiques that are deemed “ideal” for training at a pre professional level are at risk of injury as a result of faulty alignment and technique.  In recent years the quest for greater virtuosity in performance has added an extra layer of risk to the aspiring young dancer who is hoping to achieve a career in dance. Issues such as more intrusive stretching techniques to achieve higher extensions of the leg, bigger and higher jumps with added complexity, more virtuosic turns and particularly greater engagement of the spine in movement. These trends have all added to the necessity for dance teachers to have a comprehensive knowledge of human anatomy, physiology and kinesiology. This knowledge will give teachers the information to guide their students to reach their full potential and to avoid sustaining injuries.

 

No dancer is immune to the possibility of injury, however the young dancer who is experiencing a growth spurt is at the greatest risk. Whilst growing, a child’s bones are more susceptible to issues, since as the bones lengthen the growth places stress on the muscle tendon unit and consequently the young dancer at a higher risk for stress fractures and fractures.

 

Building from our previous posts on the foot’s skeletal and muscular structure, this article focuses on the foot and issues that arise from faulty biomechanics, technique and resulting from over pronation of the feet.



Incorrect turn out of the legs and feet often results in over pronation or “rolling “of the foot and ankle. To make up for inadequate mobility at the hip, dancers often rely on the rotation of the knee, and ankle to achieve the desired 180-degree turn out of the feet. This problematic mode of movement compromises the control of the rotation of the leg in the hip socket and the efficient recruitment of the deep rotator (turn out) muscles which assist in the stabilizing muscles of the legs and pelvis.  Maintaining alignment, stability, strength and control is difficult to achieve whilst dancing with torsion of the knee, and pronated foot. When the foot is pronated the weight of the body falls through the unaligned joints of the knee and ankle creating an increased torque of the medial (inner) arch and ankle and poor intrinsic foot muscle control  (see photograph above).


When there is poor intrinsic muscle strength in the arch of the foot, foot pain may occur. The intrinsic foot muscles are the tiny muscles, which contribute to control a ballet dancer's arch. If the muscles are not working effectively, larger muscles known as the extrinsic foot muscles, which originate on the leg and cross over the ankle joint, become overused.


Over-pronation of the feet can lead to a number of problematic conditions, which contribute to foot pain and may cause conditions such as bunions, hallux rigidus, plantar fasciitis, and sesamoiditis.

 


Unfortunately bunions can be common in dancers. They begin to develop in young dancers who do not have the muscle recruitment in place to support the growing bones. Both male and female dancers are at risk from the increased stress on the medial column of the foot as a dancer attempts to achieve greater turnout from the knee and ankle. Some bunions (or hallux valgus) are hereditary, however dancers may develop them as a result of forcing turn out with little to no intrinsic muscle control. Tight fitting shoes and pointe shoes may also contribute to bunions as the shoes narrow to the pointe and the foot is broadest across the metatarsals. Squeezing the toes into narrow pointe shoes put pressure onto the big toe joint which is exacerbated by carrying the weight of the body on the tiny surface of the shoe en pointe.

 

Repeated strain on the big toe joint may result in hallux rigidus or stiffness of the big toe. Dancers with bunions are more prone to hallux limitus. The shock and forces from dancing can lead to inflammation of the big toe joint, and over time cause stiffness and a lack of range of motion. Because of the pain and stiffness, dancers will shift their weight to the outside of the foot during demi-pointe. 

  

Metatarsalgia is an overuse injury and the term describes pain in the ball of the foot, which usually develops over months. High impact activities such as jumping without sound foot control and abnormal weight distribution on the foot can result in this injury. Although this injury is not solely a result of hyperpronation, the reduced foot control resulting from poor intrinsic strength will be a contributing factor.

 

Sesamoiditis is another condition where pain is often felt in the ball of the foot and is a result of excessive pressure on the forefoot. The sesamiod bones are two tiny bones within the flexor hallucis longus (FHL) that run to the big toe and when a person has sesamoiditis the tendon become inflamed. Dancers, who alternate between extreme plantar flexion and dorsiflexion rely on the flexor hallucis longus (FHL) for dynamic stability of the foot during these movements and they may be particularly susceptible to this condition. Other causes can be an increase in activity, having a foot with a high arch or a bony foot (with insufficient fat to protect the tiny bones) and also stress fractures. Most frequently dancers with sesamoiditis have an imbalance of FHL vs. gastrocnemius/soleus {calf muscles} and FHL vs. intrinsics.

 

The plantar fascia is a dense band of fibrous tissue that originates at the heel and connects to the base of the toes. It stretches each time the foot is used, and is prone to overloading especially if the arch is not supported by proper footwear. Dancers experience pain and swelling at the inside base of the heel and arch area and it is known as plantar fascilitis.

This article has focused on foot injuries, which may result from faulty biomechanics of the foot in dancers.

Forcing turn out from the foot and ankle instead of at the top of the leg at the hip joint results in faulty alignment and poor muscle recruitment. Dancers require strong intrinsic muscles of the feet, which are imperative for aligned foot control against the ground in repetitive movements of the foot, pointe work and jumping.  Without this control of the foot the dancer is at risk of injury.

The next article in this series will examine issues resulting from incorrect stretching of the foot and faulty

biomechanics of rising to demi pointe and pointe.

 

Maggie Lorraine

 

The following IADMS link provides an excellent training program for dancers:

 

         Turnout for Dancers: Supplemental Training

         Feet: Skeletal and Muscular Structure

         Resource Paper: The challenge of the Adolescent Dancer

Follow these links for more information:

YouTube - 1

YouTube - 2

 

 

Further reading:


Grossman G, Krasnow D and Welsh TM. Effective use of turnout: biomechanical, neuromuscular, and behavioral considerations. Journal of Dance Education 2005; 5(1): 15-27.

 

Jeffrey A. Russell, PhD, ATC. Breaking pointe: Foot and ankle injuries in dance.

 

 

Maggie Lorraine is the Leading Teacher in Ballet at the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School and is a member of the IADMS Education Committee.

Tags:  dancers  feet  foot  injury  prevention  teachers 

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Caring for bony injury demystified!

Posted By Meredith Butulis, DPT, ACSM HFS, Monday, June 27, 2016

Welcome to Part Three of our three part series on muscle, ligament, and bone injuries. We will explore some common myths and how you can use current evidence to efficiently return to optimal performance. This month we will explore bony injuries.

 

“It’s just a stress fracture; I can keep going.”

 “I only take the boot/orthopedic shoe off to dance, other than that I wear it all the time. Is that OK?”

“I can prevent shin splints by stretching my calves more.”

 

As dancers, teachers, or allied health professionals, we’ve likely experienced situations like these.

 

What are some essential pearls that dancers, teachers, and allied health providers need to know when it comes to preventing and caring for bony injuries?

 

What are the most common bony injuries in dancers?

At this time, research does not clearly differentiate dancers versus other athletes with regard to bony injury; however, common bony injury sites for athletic youth and adults including dancers will be discussed here.

 

Common sites for bony injury, particularly stress fractures, include metatarsals, tibia, fibula, navicular, talus, calcaneus, and pars interarticularis.1,2,3,4 Teens and youth are also susceptible to injuries involving epiphyseal (growth) plates. See Fig 1. for an illustration of these common locations.



Clinically, I also find that many dancers think that they have a chronic muscle strain as opposed to a bony injury, especially when fractures are located in the back, pelvis, hip, shins, or feet (Fig 2). For example, dancers often enter the clinic with a self-diagnosis of “hamstring strain,” “hip flexor strain,” “back strain,” “plantar fasciitis,” or “ shin splints.” Once medically evaluated, many of these are found to be fractures. 



Now that we’ve taken a look at common sites of bony injury, let’s get into some common myths and alternative views surrounding these bony injuries! We will delve into management tips, and foundations for designing your own injury prevention programs.

 

Myth # 1: It is OK to dance on a stress fracture.

 

Fact: Dancing on any fracture is not recommended. A stress fracture indicates excessive loading to the involved bone, typically over a period of time; this is different than an acute fracture, which occurs in a single episode.3 Continuing to dance on any fracture can lead to a non-union where the bone terminates its healing process; this is an undesirable outcome as it can lead to needing to permanently modify activity choices. High-risk locations are much more susceptible to delayed or non-union injuries.3,5,6

 


Myth #2: All ankle and foot injuries should be treated with PRICE (protect, rest, ice, compress, elevate) for 2-3 days followed by gradual return to activity as long as they don’t show excessive swelling and bruising at first.

 

Fact: Many bony ankle injuries actually do not swell and bruise extensively immediately. Many can also take more than two weeks to show on an X-ray image.3,7 There are a few indicators that should lead a dancer to see a medical provider initially, as opposed to trying self-treatment for a few days. These indicators are known as the Ottawa ankle rules, and further medical evaluation should be performed. If there is bony tenderness to the distal 6 cm of the medial or lateral malleolus, posterior edge or tip of either malleolus, talar neck, navicular, or base of the 5th metatarsal, medical evaluation is indicated (Fig 4).8 Additionally, if there is inability to weight bear to walk at least four steps either at the time of injury or subsequent time, medical evaluation is indicated. 8  



Myth #3: Once a fracture has healed, the dancer can return to his/her previous level of dance immediately.

 

Fact: Return to activity is guided by the high versus low risk classification of the fracture, the extent of the injury, and the typical training or competitive schedule for the individual.9 Generally, stress fractures take 6-8 weeks to heal with proper rest and rehabilitation; 7 the high risk sites can take quite a bit longer to heal.2,3 Low back fractures typically have a minimal healing time of 3 months.6

 

Proper management of a stress fracture goes beyond bone healing. Ligamentous laxity, leg length differences, areas of joint hyper or hypomobility, and neuromuscular imbalances can all play a role in minimizing improper loading forces through the body.3 Rehabilitation professionals also often use functional test batteries to determine the neuromuscular control of the involved body part prior to returning a dancer to activity.

 

Additionally, comprehensive management of a stress fracture is not limited to physical rehabilitation. Training schedules, adequate recovery strategies, fatigue management, nutrition, medications, menstrual cycle patterns, and footwear should also be evaluated.3

 

 

Myth #4: Stretching the calves regularly will prevent shin, ankle, and foot bony injury.

 

Fact: Injury prevention requires a comprehensive approach in managing multiple risk factors. Risk factors are commonly divided into intrinsic (a property of the individual human body), and extrinsic (the environment surrounding the individual).  Intrinsic risk factors include bone density, skeletal alignment, flexibility, muscular endurance, bone turnover rate, hormonal balance, and nutrition.10  Extrinsic factors include dance surfaces, footwear, training schedules, and load.10 All of these factors need to be considered with regard to the individual performer (Fig 5). 

 


Concluding thoughts:

Now that we’ve explored bony injury myths, and samples of current recommendations in prevention & treatment, how will you utilize this information in your practice?  

 

References:

 

1. Brunker PD, et al. Stress fractures: a review of 180 cases. Clin J Sports Med. 1996; 6(2): 85-9.

 

2. Bennell KL, Brunker PD. Epidemiology and site specificity of stress fractures. Clin Sports Med. 1997. 16(2): 179-96.

 

3. Mayer SW, Joyner PW, Almekinders LC, Parekh SG. Stress Fractures of the Foot and Ankle in Athletes. Sports Health. 2014;6(6):481-491.

 

4. Smith PJ, Gerrie BJ, Varner KE, McCulloch PC, Lintner DM, Harris JD. Incidence and Prevalence of Musculoskeletal Injury in Ballet: A Systematic Review. Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015;3(7)

 

5. Behrens SB, Deren ME, Matson A, Fadale PD, Monchik KO. Stress Fractures of the Pelvis and Legs in Athletes: A Review. Sports Health. 2013;5(2):165-174.

 

6. Standaert CJ, Herring SA (2007). Expert Opinion and Controversies in Sports and Musculoskeletal Medicine: The Diagnosis and Treatment of Spondylolysis in Adolescent Athletes. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 88(4): 537-40.

7. Verma RB, Sherman O. Athletic stress fractures: part I. History, epidemiology, physiology, risk factors, radiography, diagnosis, and treatment. Am J Orthop. 2001; 30(11): 798-806.

8. Bachmann LM, Kolb E, Koller MT, Steurer J, ter Riet G. Accuracy of Ottawa ankle rules to exclude fractures of the ankle and mid-foot: systematic review. BMJ. 2003;326(7386):417.

9. Deihl JJ, Best TM, Kaeding CC. Classification and return-to-play considerations for stress fractures. Clin Sports Med. 2006 Jan;25(1):17-28, vii.

10. Bennell K, et al. Risk factors for stress fractures. Sports Med. 1999 Aug;28(2):91-122.

 

Further Reading:

1. Robson B, Chertoff A. Bone health and female dancers: Physical and Nutritional Guidelines

Resource Paper. International Association of Dance Medicine and Science. 2010. Available at: http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iadms.org/resource/resmgr/resource_papers/bone_health_female_dancers.pdf

 

About the Author: Meredith Butulis, DPT, MSPT, OCS, CIMT, ACSM HFS, NASM CPT, CES, PES, BB Pilates is a dance-specialized Physical Therapist, Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor, and dance performer. With over 15 years of experience, she is based in Minneapolis, MN at Twin Cities Orthopedics and the Minnesota Dance Medicine Foundation.

Tags:  bone  dancers  injury  teachers 

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Maybe you should stop dancing… a little

Posted By Luke Hopper and Peta Blevins, Wednesday, June 15, 2016

We all know how super hard dancers work. Dance is a passion, a lifestyle and an identity for millions of people around the world. And you only get to the top with hard work and grit right? But can you have too much of a good thing?


Most dancers know the stories of dance legends like Nureyev and Cunxin dancing through adversity night and day, spending more time in the studio than any other dancer on their way to greatness. And we have all heard stories of dancers pushing their bodies through performance because the show must go on. These are inspirational stories of motivation and determination, but the fact is while dancers are super humans they certainly aren’t superhuman, and injury caused by over working in dance is a worldwide problem. A dancer who has not experienced some form of injury that has forced them to stop or modify their training is a rarity. This is really no surprise because dancers love what they do. They want to be the best they can be and put a huge number of hours into the studio pursuing their dreams. But all this training can come at a cost. No-one can work as hard as dancers do without running the risk of experiencing injury or illness that is going to stop them dancing in some way. So, could dancers actually train less, reducing the risk of injury or illness, and still progress in their training, perhaps even faster?


 


The majority of dance injuries are referred to as overuse injuries. The term overuse means just what it says - injury occurring as a result of the body being overused. The tissues in the body become fatigued and susceptible to injury when a dancer is overusing them. This is the risk dancers take in dedicating so much time training. Nobody wants to get injured and one of the hardest parts about injury for a dancer is having to take the time out of dance to recover and rehab the injury. But let’s step back and look at the injury from a different perspective. Maybe the injury is a way in which your body is showing that you are working too hard and the injury has actually just forced you into a period of recovery time? Think all of the days or weeks in the past years that you may have spent not dancing as a result of injury or illness. This is time that your body has spent recovering from training. Wouldn’t it be a better option to dedicate time for recovery as part of your regular practice so that you don’t become too injured or ill to dance in the first place?


Colleagues who work in sports are often amazed when they hear how much time dancers actually train. It is way above the training time of elite or professional athletes. This is partly because of two fundamental principles of physical training used in sport, progressive overload and recovery. Progressive overload refers to the concept that training should stress, fatigue and challenge the body beyond a comfortable limit. As a result, after the training, the body responds by adapting with strength or fitness gains, or whatever physical capacity the training challenged. But it is only after training that the body adapts; it is only when the body is recovering that we improve. Making sure you get enough sleep is just as important as working really hard in the studio. We do some of our best work at night when we are asleep in bed.


These principles go beyond the physical and apply just as strongly to psychological factors. There is a huge amount of psychological pressure that goes hand in hand with being a dancer. Dancers may feel pressure to look a certain way, they may be worried about gaining employment, and more and more there is increasing demand for dancers to have versatility in their performance skills. It’s not always possible to leave our worries at the studio door and often we find they creep into the studio behind us and start affecting our performance. Often the first reaction we have when we notice performance dropping off is to increase our training efforts, but maybe training smarter is a better option than just training harder.


A first step in becoming a smarter dancer is looking at yourself as a whole person, not just a dancing body but also a dancing mind. It’s important to acknowledge that pressures from within and outside the dance world, as well as a combination of physical and psychological factors, can have an impact on your performance. Finding a balance between pushing hard and backing off training when you need to recover is a bit like walking a tightrope; it’s very easy to lose your balance and only you can feel where your center of gravity is. There can be a bit of a stigma attached to taking it easy; no one wants to be seen a quitter or a ‘lazy dancer’. But it’s so important to be aware of your own recovery needs and to know when you can push your training and when you need to spend more time focusing on recovering from the hard work you’ve put in.


 


So let’s think about recovery in the context of injury or illness again. You push a little hard through training, ignoring the niggle in your foot or tickle in your throat and all too soon you are too sick to get out of bed or you’re watching class from the side waiting for your foot to recover. Can you frame this series of events as your body forcing you to recover after you have been forcing your body to train? If you can accept that recovery in dance is inevitable (and indeed, essential), then you have the choice of taking the recovery pill the easy way or the hard way. There is nothing like coming home from a hard day’s training, feeling you have accomplished something and are on your way to being a brilliant dancer. So reward yourself, take some downtime, even half a day coupled with an easy afternoon’s training. You are much better spending the day recovering and doing some light training than pushing your body with another hard session risking injury or a week in bed.


So how much training is enough and how much rest is too much? Ultimately, this is your choice, nobody knows your body’s limits better than you. A good place to start is to plan your training over the next few months. In sports this is called periodization and IADMS President Prof Matt Wyon’s articles are a great guide to get you on the way here. By scheduling rest periods it means that you may be able to train differently on your work days and Glenna Batson’s article on distributed practice in dance can help you through that. You will also need to think about your existing schedule, when do you have high intensity classes, days or weeks and how can you schedule your recovery time around these periods.


Finally, recovery does not mean being a couch potato. Elite athletes don’t spend nearly as much time in physical training as dancers but they certainly train full time. This means that when athletes aren’t training in the gym or on the field they will often be reviewing games, looking at game strategy or doing mental skills training. This is referred to as active recovery. So why not schedule half a day a week or so to study dance history or even better catch up on your journal of dance medicine and science articles or IADMS blogs! There are heaps of activities you can do that aren’t dancing that will let your mind and body rest and recover and make you a better dancer.

  

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Luke Hopper (Post-doctoral Research Fellow) and Peta Blevins (PhD Candidate) are based at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Peta Blevins’ PhD advisory team include Luke Hopper, Associate Professor Gene Moyle (Queensland University of Technology) and Dr Shona Erskine (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts). Peta will present her research investigating recovery in dance at the IADMS conference this year at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.

Tags:  dancers  teachers 

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