Unlocking Your Potential through Movement: An Exploration of Dance/Movement Therapy

By Erica Hornthal, LCPC, BC-DMT

As a society we have long known the healing benefits of dance. Dance can improve cognition and memory, it can reduce stress, and it can help us get in shape. However, not many people know the emotional and psychological impact movement has on mental health.  Dance applied as an intervention within the therapeutic relationship unlocks individual potential; the potential to increase productivity, maximize performance, manage chronic pain or injury, and connect to passion and purpose.  

What is dance/movement therapy?

According to the American Dance Therapy Association, founded in 1966, “dance/movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive and physical integration of the individual.” It is a creative arts therapy that uses movement as the means to observe, assess, and intervene in an individual’s overall health.  Movement is the most primitive instinctual form of communication and expression. It allows for a deeper level of understanding, validation and support.  Not only is no dance experience or coordination needed to reap the benefits, but also, unlike psychotropic medications, there are no negative side effects.  

What is the different between dance and dance/movement therapy?

Dance is a performance art form usually consisting of stylized or choreographed sequences of movement. It is about expression, aesthetics, and often physicality and skill. Dance/movement therapy is first and foremost a niche form of psychotherapy, facilitated by a master’s level clinician that merely uses, movement, a component of dance, to heal and integrate the mind, body, and spirit of an individual. In dance/movement therapy, the “dance” comes from the individual as an organic expression of the self.

What are the benefits of dance/movement therapy?

Dance/movement therapy can benefit people of all ages, abilities, and life circumstances because it supports the individual on a body level where they are in that specific moment in time. Dance therapy has a broad range of health benefits. It has been demonstrated to be clinically effective at improving body image, self-esteem, attentiveness, and communication skills. It can also reduce stress, fears and anxieties, as well as lessen feelings of isolation, body tension, chronic pain, and depression. In addition it can enhance the functioning of the body’s circulatory and respiratory systems.

What does a session look like?

Dance/movement therapy sessions can look much like a talk therapy session. It is often up to the participant how large the movement is or how indulgent it may be. It can incorporate breathing exercises, meditation, mindfulness, stretching, and yes, dance, in addition to verbal processing. It can be done individually, as a couple, or even in a group. Sessions take place in hospitals, nursing homes, day centers, schools, studios, homes, and offices around the world. It is a holistic body-based therapy that can be done standing up, sitting down, or even from a person’s bedside.

Anyone can participate in dance/movement therapy, regardless of age, physical or even cognitive ability.  If you are interested in deepening your mind-body connection, enhancing physical performance through awareness, or physically and emotionally becoming more efficient, consider dance/movement therapy as your approach to mental and physical integration, growth, and healing.  

For more information, go to the American Dance Therapy Association or contact Chicago Dance Therapy.

Joffrey Ballet Partners with MOR, RUMC

the joffrey ballet

Sports medicine and foot and ankle specialists from Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR), who are also on staff at Rush University Medical Center (RUMC), have been selected to serve as preferred medical providers for The Joffrey Ballet, the world-class dance company located in Chicago.

The Joffrey Ballet is the newest professional athletic organization for which this practice provides medical care. MOR physicians are also medical providers for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the Chicago White Sox, the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, and the Chicago Bulls.

Dr. Simon Lee, foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon and Dr. Leda Ghannad, sports medicine physician, will serve as head physicians for The Joffrey Ballet. Colleagues Drs. Johnny Lin and Kamran Hamid, also foot and ankle orthopedic specialists will round out the medical team for The Joffrey Ballet.

“We will work with the on-site ballet therapists to help the dancers perform in optimal condition, and if an injury does occur, we can immediately provide the required care to minimize time away from performing,” explains Dr. Lee.

An MOR physician will monitor the Joffrey’s on-site training room once a week and attend each of the Chicago performances in February, April and in the summer of 2018. If a higher level of medical care is needed, dancers will be treated at the MOR clinic or at RUMC. The Joffrey team physicians will also provide care for Joffrey staff members.

Approximately 40 percent of dancers’ injuries involve lower extremities, which are typically overuse injuries. “We understand ballet dancers who are a tough breed of elite athletes with rigorous and lengthy daily practice sessions,” says Dr. Ghannad. “While they may sustain acute injuries, dancers’ foot and ankle injuries are usually caused by repetitive movements.”

About The Joffrey Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet is a world-class, Chicago-based ballet company and dance education organization committed to artistic excellence and innovation, presenting a unique repertoire encompassing masterpieces of the past and cutting-edge works. The Joffrey is committed to providing arts education and accessible dance training through its Joffrey Academy of Dance and Community Engagement programs.

About Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush

Rush University Medical Center’s orthopedics program is ranked #1 in Illinois, according to U.S. News and World Report magazine’s 2017-2018 Best Hospitals issue. Rush also has one of the top sports medicine residency and fellowship training programs in the country.

Barre Workouts: Learn the Benefits and Limitations

By Tara Hackney for Athletico Physical Therapy

barre workout benfits and limitationsBarre workouts have been around for a while. You may be curious; maybe you’ve tried a class; maybe you’re scared to try a class because you aren’t a “ballerina” or, maybe you don’t see the appeal of this workout. Whichever you are, it’s important to learn the concepts of Barre so you know the benefits and limitations of this workout!

Barre workouts combine yoga, Pilates, ballet and strength training.

Benefits of Barre Workouts:

1. The tiny movements can help you get stronger! The tiny movements are called isometric contractions where the muscle tenses without changing length. Isometric exercise is a way to maintain muscle strength. These small movements can help isolate specific muscles. You may also be able to do more repetitions with these smaller movements as you will fatigue in a different way than typical strength training (ex: squats, bicep curls). These exercises are generally low weight, but high repetition to help with endurance. Isometric contractions also help strengthen muscles with a slightly lower risk of injury compared to traditional strength training due to less strain on tendons and ligaments.

2. You can target multiple muscle groups at once! In each move, you can do 2 to 4 movements either holding, pulsing, or stretching. When working all these areas at once you can also raise the heart rate.

3. You can improve the mind body connection! The smaller movements can enhance your level of body awareness that you may not achieve in normal strength workouts. Barre class can help improve muscle activation for frequently underused muscles.

Limitations of Barre Workouts:

1. You may not gain functional strength! Barre classes can lack compound movements like squats or lunges which use multiple muscle groups and joints. These functional exercises help with strength for movements in everyday life such as stair climbing or carrying groceries. Compound movements also help elevate the heart rate. Many classes have begun adding these compound movements to their workouts now.

2. The heart may not be challenged enough! The cardio in a barre class may not be enough for cardiovascular health. There also is a limit in the post-exercise burn with barre class. Other forms of exercise, such as resistance training and high intensity interval training, may be more effective at increasing the calories burned during and after a workout.

3. You may plateau! Your body can get use to barre class. You can tap out on your potential to get stronger. We must always keep challenging our bodies to prevent this plateau.

A Change in Your Workout:
Barre class is fun and interesting for many people. It is also a great way to change up a traditional strength training routine. Barre classes provide a low impact full body workout. Finding a workout routine that appeals to you is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle! Should an injury occur during workout, schedule an appointment at a nearby Athletico location so we can help you heal.

If you suspect an injury from a work out find your closest Athletico for a complimentary injury screen.

Schedule a Complimentary Injury Screen

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.

Therapy that moves you!

By Erica Hornthal, MA, LCPC, BC-DMT, Chicago Dance Therapy

Chicago Dance Therapy is the premier dance/movement therapy practice serving Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. Offering psychotherapy with a body-centered approach focused on connecting mind, body, and spirit.


Mind

In dance/movement therapy, movement is the therapeutic tool used to process feelings and emotions. The client is encouraged to experience, observe, and process behaviors and thoughts through body sensations, non-verbal communication, and body language. We use the body to recharge, refocus, and even re-pattern the mind.


Body

We use the body to assess, observe, and intervene in the therapeutic relationship. When words alone may not be expressing what someone is experiencing, dance/movement therapy can help to validate and support each individual.


Spirit

This holistic alternative to traditional talk therapy is a wonderful way to treat mind, body, and spirit. Using movement we can connect to our subconscious, enhance our awareness, and learn to be more present.


According to the American Dance Therapy Association, dance/movement therapy is the psychotherapeutic use of movement to promote emotional, cognitive, physical and social integration of the individual. Benefits of dance/movement therapy include:

  • Facilitate self-awareness
  • Enhance self-esteem
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Encourage reminiscing
  • Maintain and/or increases mobility
  • Enhance body-mind connectivity
  • Focus on non-verbal communication
  • Enhance emotional and physical well being