Back to Basics: 3 Injury Prevention Tips for Dancers

By Athletico Physical Therapy

As summer starts winding down, dancers are getting ready to transition to the fall program season. Preparing for the season’s big shows means long hours spent at rehearsals on top of other responsibilities, such as academics, work and household duties.

During this time of year, it can be easy to overlook some of the fundamentals of injury prevention when trying to fit in a rehearsal into a busy schedule. However, this is the time when the basics like proper warm up and nutrition matter the most. To help dancers minimize the risk of injury and stay ready for their big shows, we are highlighting three basic injury prevention tips below:

1. Warm Up

To minimize the risk of injury during practices and performances, dancers should incorporate dynamic warm-ups into their training routine. Dynamic warm-ups increase heart rate and get the blood flowing so that the muscles become more pliable and able to stretch. This helps prime the body for physical exertion and minimizes the risk of injury to muscles or joints. A few examples of dynamic warm-ups include body weight squats, jumping jacks, and forward and backward lunges.

Learn more about dynamic warm-ups, as well as cooling down after activity, by reading “Warming Up vs Cooling Down: Things to Know.

2. Cross Train

Although technique training is important, dancers should also consider adding cross training into their routine to improve endurance, strength and flexibility. Swimming or biking are activities that can help improve endurance, while strength training can improve muscular fitness. Additionally, incorporating exercises like Pilates into training can help dancers improve flexibility, balance and core stability.

3. Maintain Healthy Habits

In order to be in peak condition, dancers should focus on their general health in addition to their training. This includes maintaining a healthy diet, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep. Since dancers don’t typically have an off-season, they are more likely to experience altered sleep-wake rhythms, which can increase the risk of illness and musculoskeletal injuries. For tips on how to get better sleep, read “Eat, Sleep, Dance, Repeat: The Importance of Sleep for Dancers.

These three tips can help both experienced and novice dancers keep their bodies healthy to minimize the risk of injury during practices and performances. Should an injury occur, make sure to schedule an appointment at a nearby Athletico location so our team can help you heal.

If you are a dancer who would like to learn more about our Performing Arts Rehabilitation program, please email performingarts@athletico.com.

Getting Strong Without Getting Hurt

By Dev K. Mishra, M.D., President, Sideline Sports Doc. Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University

Key Points:

  • Blood flow restriction training with B Strong straps allows for strength gains with very low resistance loads
  • The low loads mean that a person with joint conditions or recent surgery can maintain and gain strength without causing joint pain or risking a surgical repair
  • This is a real game-changer in the world of strength training with safe, natural methods

Many injured athletes and other patients I see need to get stronger in order to improve their function or performance. But for many of these folks getting strong through traditional resistance based strength training might lead to pain, or be dangerous after surgery. I wrote a few weeks back about a technique called blood flow restriction training, in which strength gains are made through very low load resistance. I believe there is great benefit for athletes with painful conditions, or rehab after surgery.

Common scenarios would be: a young athlete with patellofemoral syndrome who has a hard time gaining strength because the exercises increase knee cap pain; an older athlete with knee arthritis who increases pain with resistance training; or anyone after ACL surgery where incorrect or overly aggressive strengthening could harm the surgery result.

I spoke recently with Dr. James Stray-Gundersen, co-founder of B Strong and team physician with the U.S. Olympic teams. Dr. Stray-Gundersen emphasizes that the use of the resistance straps changes the body’s natural response to exercise and allows for increased circulation of our own internally produced healing hormones such as HGH and many others. He explains there are two key aspects for the athlete with an impairment such as knee pain, or anyone who has had surgery:

  1. The injured area is able to achieve strength gains with very low loads, which drastically reduces any potential joint soreness
  2. In a joint that’s had recent surgery the straps minimize atrophy in the surgical limb and at the same time allow safe exercise for the uninvolved limbs

He gave further detail:

“Perhaps the biggest thing B Strong training does is mitigate disuse atrophy that occurs when a person has to stop their normal activities due to injury or operation.  B Strong allows maintenance of training stress despite the setback of the injury, when standard training is impossible or would delay healing or damage the repair.  We want to exercise as much of the body’s muscle mass as possible, without risking further injury to the healing injury or operation.

So, for example, with an ACL repair or a total hip, I would start upper body B Strong on the 1st day post op.  I am doing this for 2 main reasons.  First, to mitigate atrophy in the rest of the body and second, to get as big of a systemic effect as possible to optimize healing resources.  Then usually by Day 3 post op, I am doing both upper body and lower body B Strong (taking care to not put a band across a fresh incision).

On the operated leg, it may only be gentle, non-weight bearing, ROM exercises with the bands on, but it is exercise.  Ideally we do daily sessions with patients and progress the exercises as tolerated, always cognizant of not disturbing the healing injury or operation.  Exercises are always easy enough that they are done with proper form.  Results are remarkable and come remarkably fast.

So in summary, B Strong training in the rehab setting is exercise mainly for the uninjured parts of the body, while making sure we don’t disturb the healing injury or operation. This approaches accelerates the patient’s return to their previous activities compared to the current standard of care.Logo

B Strong BFR Training is really a “doable” form of exercise in people with the special consideration of a musculoskeletal injury or operation.”

In my opinion this is a real game changer. If you’re trying to maintain or increase strength and having a hard time because the exercises cause pain, or if you’ve had recent surgery I’d strongly encourage you to discuss B Strong resistance training with your doctor and physical therapist.

Physical Activity for Combating Chronic Inflammation in Older Adults

Image result for older athletes

Chronic inflammation is a condition contributing to development of several diseases and functional decline during aging. While regular physical activity is an important factor for healthy aging, little is known about whether it may favorably influence chronic inflammation in the elderly. These investigators studied the impact on inflammation in older women after replacing half an hour of time they spent in sedentary behavior with equal amounts of time in physical activity of different intensities.

The study shows that replacing half an hour of sedentary behavior with physical activity was related to reduced levels of inflammation. Engagement in daily physical activity of at least moderate intensity had a beneficial impact regardless of the subjects’ daily sedentary time. This supports the existence of different intensity thresholds by which physical activity may influence on chronic inflammation. These study findings were confirmed in older women among individuals with varying health status. The results support public health efforts to increase physical activity to promote health in older adults.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

Using Lord Of The Rings to Revolutionize Coaching? How Artificial Intelligence can Assess Athlete Performance and Injury Risk.

Image result for lord of the rings

Observing how an athlete moves is a common way to assess their performance potential or risk for injury. These assessments use visual observations, which can lead to different conclusions based on the coach/doctor who conducts the assessment or the day/time of the observations. In this study, the investigators assessed 542 athletes, ranging in skill from beginner (youth or recreational) to professional (NFL, NBA, FIFA, MLB players). Each athlete completed seven movements while being filmed by motion capture cameras.

These cameras are like those used to bring life-like movements to Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies and to players in sports video games. By combining the athletes’ camera data with computer-based artificial intelligence, the investigators were able to classify athletes as elite or novice based on how they moved. For a more detailed outcome beyond this basic classification, the athletes also were scored on a scale from 0% (moves like a novice) to 100% (moves like a professional).

This method is a breakthrough in movement assessment that reduces the need to rely on human observers. This method will improve consistency of classifying athletes in movement evaluations by coaches/doctors. In addition, it may be used for sports training and rehabilitation purposes. The investigators’ next step is to use this method to identify those athletes who are more likely to sustain an injury.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine