The Importance of Sleep for Dancers; Treating Hand & Wrist Injuries

Episode 17.26  Rerun

Segment One (01:25): Julie O’Connell PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, Performing Arts Medicine importance of sleep for dancersProgram Manager at Athletico-River North talks dancers vs other athletes regarding sleep; what happens during sleep for dancers and useful tips for quality sleep. While the days are getting shorter, rehearsals are getting longer and cutting into valuable time meant for counting sheep.

Julie specializes in the treatment of dancers and performing artists and has extensive experience working with organizations like The Joffrey Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Broadway in Chicago.

The CDC recommends 8-10 hours of sleep for teens 13-18 years old, and 7 or more hours per night for adults 18-60 years old. This can be difficult to achieve for dancers, whose rehearsals consist of specialized physical activity of high volume, frequency and intensity throughout the week. Dancers also don’t usually have an off-season, which can contribute to increased incidence of altered sleep-wake rhythms, illness and musculoskeletal injuries. More>>


Segment Two (13:11): Dr. John Fernandez from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush describes microsurgery; recent innovations in hand and wrist surgery; re-plantation and transplantation of limbs; types of hand injuries experienced by athletes at all levels.

Dr. John FernandezDr. Fernandez has created and innovated some of the advanced surgeries currently popularized in the treatment of the hand, wrist, and elbow. His original research has led to techniques minimizing surgical trauma while maximizing outcomes. As an inventor, he holds patents in some of the very implants developed for these minimally invasive surgeries.

As director of microsurgery for Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, he has performed hundreds of successful microsurgical procedures. These have included replantation of amputated arms, hands, and digits, as well as complex reconstructions for deformity and wounds.

He is a board certified member of the ABOS and holds the highest distinction in hand surgery with a certificate of added qualification in hand and microsurgery. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and a member of the American Association for Hand Surgery as well as the American Society for Surgery of the Hand.

Sleep…Beyond Counting Sheep

By Valerie Odea for Athletico Physical Therapy

There’s nothing quite like a good night’s sleep…and awakening to the promise of a new day! But these days, getting a good night’s sleep seems to be more elusive than ever.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three sleep beyond counting sheepAmericans routinely do not get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can contribute to health issues such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and impaired memory. Therefore, lack of sleep is a true public health crisis. The Rand Corporation published a study reporting over $400 billion loss to US companies annually due to employees’ lack of sleep. So why is our nation sleep-deprived and what can we do to be better sleepers?

Falling asleep should be one of the easiest tasks for us to accomplish, right? Yet many of us cannot do it well, nor on a consistent basis. How can we improve “sleep hygiene,” or healthy sleep habits? Happily, most of the practices that promote sound sleep are under our control! Here’s what you need to know:

A Consistent Schedule Matters: Humans have a circadian rhythm, which means we follow a day/night cycle of approximately 24 hours. That being said, the more consistently we manage our sleep/wake cycles, the better. Try to get to bed at the same time most evenings and awaken at approximately the same time each morning. Resist the temptation to stay up very late or sleep in, even on weekends or days off. By staying consistent with your cycle, your body will have an established routine.

Age Makes a Difference: Aging presents issues with regard to sleep, with many people waking up more frequently and have a harder time getting back to sleep as they get older. This could be due to a variety of reasons, including less time spent in a deep sleep, the need to urinate during the night, anxiety, or discomfort from pain or chronic illness.

Avoid Substances and Meals that can Interrupt Your Sleep: Be judicious about using substances such as alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. These chemicals can stay in our systems for up to 14 hours and disturb sleep. On that note, a large, heavy meal can be difficult to digest close to bedtime and interfere with sleep.

Stress Plays a Role: Stress…who doesn’t have it? A stressful day flows into the evening and you can’t relax. Besides your brain being preoccupied, stress cause the body to release the stress hormone cortisol which promotes increased alertness.

Medical Conditions can Make an Impact: A variety of medical issues can also keep you from sleeping well. More than just annoying snoring, sleep apnea is a dangerous condition where you can have decreased breathing, changes in vital signs and startle yourself into wakefulness. Oftentimes Restless Leg Syndrome may accompany sleep apnea. If you or your partner snore, have a sleep study performed by a specialist and follow the recommended treatment. Chronic insomnia interferes with your body’s restorative sleep and can have deleterious health effects on the brain and body as well.

So, how can you overcome these issues and catch your zzzzzzzzzz?sleep beyond counting sheep

Try to Respect Your Circadian Rhythm:Establish a consistent bedtime and wake up time and stick to it. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible with room darkening shades, blinds or use a sleep mask. Avoid lights from electronics in the bedroom. Keep your bedroom cool with the use of a fan, or by opening a window and turning down the furnace. Foam earplugs can reduce noises surprisingly well. Some swear by white noise machines available at most department or electronics stores. Don’t underestimate the benefits of a comfortable, supportive mattress, pillows and blankets. Make a rule that you won’t eat, watch TV or pull out your phone/laptop to do work in bed.

Limit Fluids After Dinner as much as Possible: Have that last coffee at lunch or switch to an evening decaf. Some feel that a “night cap” alcoholic drink will relax them for sleep. Initially, alcohol will make one feel sleepy, but then it will actually disturb your sleep.

Have a Bedtime Ritual (like when you were a child): I often share this information with my patients who are just home from the hospital, may have pain, are off their routine, have stress and concerns. Take a warm bath or shower if possible, perform some relaxation techniques such as tensing and relaxing muscles, or do some deep breathing. Try reading for a short time. Enjoy a small glass of milk and a light carbohydrate snack. A very effective technique I employ is to keep a pad of paper and a pen on my nightstand. I journal about ideas, concerns and worries. Then I put them aside. I have taken everything off my mind and put it down on paper where I know it will be waiting for me in the morning.

Exercise: With regard to exercise and fitness, those who have a regular fitness routine fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. However, try to exercise earlier in the day or at least 3-4 hours before bedtime.

Napping: Short “cat naps” of 20-30 minutes are fine if needed. They can refresh you. Anything longer can make you feel groggy and interfere with your nighttime sleep.

Sweet Dreams!

These days there are high tech mattresses, gadgets, apps, fancy pillows that monitor sleep cycles, sensors and sleep tracking watches available to help you get to sleep and measure your sleep performance. None of these devices come cheap. I would argue that for most people, following the ideas discussed above and taking a do-it-yourself approach to improving your sleep works best. Of course, if sleep problems persist, see your health care provider for help.

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Common Hand Injuries: Text Thumb; Little League Pitchers: Do’s & Don’ts; Importance of Sleep for Optimal Recovery

Episode 17.35 with Hosts Steve Kashul and Dr. Brian Cole. Broadcasting on ESPN Chicago 1000 WMVP-AM Radio, Saturdays from 8:30 to 9:00 AM/c.

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Segment One (01:10): Dr. Nik Verma sitting in this week for Dr. Cole joins Steve andImage result for thumb overuse Nicole Kauppila from Athletico Physical Therapy to discuss Tech Thumb injury.

Each year as we approach the holidays, smartphones are listed as a top gift.  With use of smart phones – tech-related injuries called “tech-thumb” resulting from unnatural movements like constant texting are on the rise.

New smartphones often means even more time straining thumbs, in fact young adults spend a staggering one-third of their waking hours on smart phones. Nicole describes causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment for overuse injuries of the hand.


 Segment Two (11:46): Dr. Nik Verma, Head Team Physician for the Chicago White Sox talks with Steve about how to avoid overuse throwing injuries in young athletes; avoid training in one sport all year long, high pitch velocity and pitch counts that can cause damage from repetitive load on the growth plates of young athletes.

Image result for little league pitcher


Segment Three (20:14): Todd Sayer, PT from ATI Physical Therapy talks about the importance of sleep for optimal recovery; the correct supportive neutral sleep position; avoiding compressed shoulder joint in side sleepers. 

How you sleep dictates how you perform, so whether you are falling short on logging enough sleep each night or poor sleep posture is inhibiting a solid day’s performance, making a few simple changes can help to enable a good night’s rest and support your body’s ability to adapt and adjust.

Todd Sayer  is a Senior Regional Director with ATI. He has 18 years of clinical experience specializing in treatment outpatient orthopedic and sports medicine injuries as well as chronic pain and post-operative care.

Overcoming Sleep Challenges and Discomfort

9 Ways to Live Healthier in 2018

We all should eat better, exercise regularly and get more sleep. We hear those three pieces of advice so often it can be easy to drown them out. But there’s a reason this advice has become so cliché: Combined, they truly can result in a healthier life, physically and mentally.

But where should you begin? We’re here to help.

Below is the best advice from The Times on ensuring that your body and mind are in top shape in 2018, whatever that means for you. Whether you’ve been trying to sleep better, establish an exercise routine or finally give your house the deep clean it deserves, we’ve got you covered.

Finally fix your sleeping hygiene

It seems like such a simple problem to fix: Get more sleep. But how? In this Times guide to getting a better night’s rest, you’ll learn how to create and maintain positive sleep habits, find a nighttime ritual that works for you, figure out when you should even be sleeping and much, much more. Read more »

Try biking to work

Yes, biking to work can be a daunting prospect. But in this simple how-to guide, we’ll teach you the rules of the road and the best ways to stay safe. Read more »

Learn to manage your stress

Stress can impact both your mental and physical health, so as you move into the new year it’s important to get a handle on yours. Read more »

Never done a downward dog? Give it a try

Like stress, yoga is something that can impact both your mental and physical well-being, but in an incredibly positive way. Read this beginner’s guide, then show us your best child’s pose. Read more »

Clean home, clean life

A new year means new beginnings, so give your home a makeover with our comprehensive guide to cleaning out every room, nook and cranny. Read more »

Save time on your workouts

Working out certainly can end up consuming large chunks of your day or week, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some really, really short workouts you can build into your fitness routine. Read more »

Conquer your negative thinking

Here’s a New Year’s challenge for the mind: Make this the year that you quiet all those negative thoughts swirling around your brain. Read more »

Strengthen those muscles

Strength training can be crucial to your health goals, but it’s not always easy to know where to start. This guide to strength training solves that problem, giving you a simple-yet-effective nine-minute routine you can do practically anywhere. Read more »

Go for a run

A recent study found that runners tend to live about three years longer than nonrunners, even if they run slowly or sporadically and smoke, drink or are overweight. No other form of exercise that researchers looked at showed comparable impacts on life span. Get out there! Read more »

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Eat, Sleep, Dance, Repeat: The Importance of Sleep for Dancers

importance of sleep for dancersBy Alyssa Hartley for Athletico Physical Therapy

As summer comes to an end, Fall brings a season of routine. This is especially true of dancers who are back to academia on top of rehearsal. Professional dancers, for example, will begin preparing their upcoming repertoire for programs like Joffrey Ballet’s Giselle and Hubbard Street Dance Company’s Fall Series.

While the days are getting shorter, rehearsals are getting longer and cutting into valuable time meant for counting sheep. The CDC recommends 8-10 hours of sleep for teens 13-18 years old, and 7 or more hours per night for adults 18-60 years old. This can be difficult to achieve for dancers, whose rehearsals consist of specialized physical activity of high volume, frequency and intensity throughout the week. Dancers also don’t usually have an off-season, which can contribute to increased incidence of altered sleep-wake rhythms, illness and musculoskeletal injuries. In fact, studies show:

Rarely Sleeping Beauty

In Germany, there was a small study of 24 classical ballet dancers and their sleep quality prior to a ballet premiere. The total time spent asleep and ratio of time asleep vs. awake in bed was low in the ballet dancers compared to age-matched athletes. Over the course of 67 days prior to the show’s premiere, there was an even greater exacerbation in these sleep factors. This was true while the amount of time spent in ballet class and rehearsal per day did not change. Now, imagine this same degradation in sleep over the course of multiple shows throughout the year. That adds up to be a lot of missed shut-eye for dancers!

Wide Awake

There have been hundreds of studies on athletes and disturbed sleep. Athletes that participate at the Olympic, international, national and professional level, such as professional dancers, are considered “elite”. A systematic review of the literature of sleep quality in elite sports shows that elite athletes generally show high levels of insomnia symptoms (inability to initiate and maintain sleep). Pre-sleep arousal (more brain activity) and sleep restriction (not having the time to sleep long enough) were the most prevalent issues. Thus, lack of sleep can actually exacerbate insomnia, creating a vicious cycle.

Benefits of Sleep for Dancers

The processes that occur during sleep have been widely studied, and the benefits are far-reaching for all humans, but certainly for athletes. Sleep increases the secretion of growth hormone, which is necessary for dancers to grow and get stronger. Memory consolidation and motor-sequencing occurs during sleep, which is necessary for dancers when learning new choreography or technique. Therefore long-term to even short-lived disturbances in sleep can cause a dancer to perform worse mentally and physically, possibly affecting his or her contracts professionally.

Sleep is an essential part of mental and physical recovery. Many dancers, from recreational to professional, have challenging classes and rehearsals on back to back days without enough time for recovery. If an athlete does not have enough recovery between high-intensity workouts or rehearsals, successive workouts or classes are done at a less than optimal physiological condition. If training stress is too high, and there is not enough adequate recovery, such as prior to a competition or performance, “overtraining” can occur.

Over time, this pattern results in a plateau of performance and possible injury. A meta-analysis shows that dancer injury is extremely prevalent, with ankle, foot, lumbar and cervical spine injuries being the most frequently injured. One small study even found highest illness prevalence after six weeks of an overload training regimen in athletes. No dancer wants to be injured or sick before a performance, indicating that appropriate recovery – and most notably sleep – is imperative for excelling on stage.

Tips to Catch Some Zzz’s:

  • Make sure you are in a cool, dark environment
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and drug use
  • Eliminate screen time prior to bed
  • Aim to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day
  • If possible, consider a “post-lunch” nap for around 20 minutes for greater energy, but not within 4 hours of bed

Adequate sleep can help prevent injuries and improve daily functions, but it is still important for dancers to pay attention to their bodies. Should any unusual pain or discomfort occur during or after rehearsal, make sure to begin the healing process as soon as possible by scheduling a complimentary injury screen at your nearest Athletico location.

Schedule a Complimentary Injury Screen