As I am sitting here in the airport waiting for my flight back to VA, I am still overwhelmed by the amazing
weekend I just had. There are so many new treatments, blog ideas and friends from all over the world that I have come away with- all of which I hope to share with you in the upcoming weeks! I wanted to at least give you a quick snapshot of how I spent my weekend so that you have an understanding of why this conference and association is so important to me.
For those of you who do not know, the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, or
IADMS, is leading the way in research and innovation for the dance community. It is an association that
is made up of scientists, doctors, therapists, nutritionists, dance educators, instructors, dancers and the list goes on and on! Basically it encompasses anyone who works with dancers and a regular basis and is committed to their health and wellness. Because of the array of professions it encompasses, it is the ideal environment for encouraging collaboration to further the emerging field of dance medicine.
For instance, take something like a strength and conditioning program for a ballet company. Why do we know the ideal time of the year to participate in this training, what types of exercises to do and the likelihood that it will decrease injury? Well, it did not come out of thin air- thats for sure! There is a process in place that allows this information to start at the top and trickle its way down to the general public. A scientist somewhere who was interested in dance medicine decided to do a research study (which probably took months or even years alone to gather background information, data, compile it all), they eventually got that study published in an accredited journal, presented it at conferences to doctors and therapists who are then able to bring it home to their dancers and implement it with one dancer or a whole studio, and the information just keeps to trickle down from there. Without the collaboration between all these people, the information would never get out to the public and we would still be doing outdated things with our dancers that could be potentially detrimental to their health and wellbeing. Not to mention the dancers would never be able to improve their strength and technique as the demands of choreography only continue to get harder.
Dance medicine is a fairly new idea and therefore we still have A LOT to learn. IADMS helps us to keep
growing as a whole and progress the field so that you, as dancers, are able to have the resources to stay
healthier, dance stronger and perform at the highest level. Without the dedicated interested and
participation of thousands of people worldwide, the field of dance medicine would never have gained
any ground in the first place.
This years conference was no exception to the rule as people from all over the world presented their
research and new ideas surrounding the topic of dance medicine. One of my absolute favorite parts of
this conference is that it is international. Having the opportunity to speak with people from all ends of
the globe gives us the chance to see what works/doesn't work and gives new perspective on things we
may have not thought of otherwise. This is a group of people that is seriously innovative and creative
and the information must be shared! I fully intend on preparing a series of blogs in addition to this one
to share all the current hot topics with you, but for today I wanted to just give you a quick recap on the
highlights and interesting facts:
1. Sport specialization. We still do not know all the advantages and disadvantages to young kids
participating in only one sport/activity, however what we do know is that the most important thing is to
promote lifelong health and wellness in kids so that they grow up with these good habits already in
place. The current evidence is showing us that the biggest risk of sport specialization at a young age is
the athlete/dancer quitting. We want to make sure we are encouraging participating in a healthy way
and now overworking these kiddos so that they burn out and have a negative feeling towards activity.
2. In sport, the biggest risk of injury is during performance (or a game). In dancers, the biggest risk of
injury is not during performance but instead during training. Thought provoking isn't it!? We better start
training these dancers more efficiently!
3. One of the more aesthetic components of dance is jumping. The way we currently train dancers to
jump higher/faster/stronger is to make them perform their dance jumps over, and over, and over.....
As a physical therapist, I prepare my dancers to jump safer by teaching proper plié technique. We now
have evidence to believe that Plié and dance jump training is not adequate enough to actually improve
jumps in dancers. We need something else, something better. Stay tuned... This is one of those blog
topics I will be expanding on ;-)
4. Training with the ballet barre may be causing increased trunk and pelvic rotation in dancers, therefore
do not forget to work on barre work AWAY from the barre so that it better transfers over into
5. We need to be developing backstage emergency plans for all performances to keep our dancers and
backstage personal safe and calm in the event of an emergency. Studios and instructors-- contact me
and I would love to help you do this!
6. Dancers perform on average ~200 jumps per class. Yup that's what I said. 2-0- 0. That is an awful lot of stress on those bodies!!
7. Dancers tend to have asymmetrical strength on the right and left sides. It may not be a bad things like
we originally thought, but instead a benefit to their bodies and their dancing.
8. Many of our dancers are dancing on torn or damaged labrums. The labrum is what helps hold the
head of the femur in the socket, so if it is damaged you are much more likely to cause problems with
instability and dislocation. At the same time, surgery is not always the right answer. Developing a solid
conditioning and prevention program with a trained PT is crucial to not causing too much damage.
9. Dance instructors are constantly telling their dancers to keep their hips square. Well, guess what?
Our hips are not meant to be kept square! The anatomy physically does not work that way. BUT there
are some tips and tricks we can share with our dancers to make it appear that their hips are more
flexible, all while keeping them healthy and lowering the risk of long term problems.
10. I saved the best for last. This last one just makes me cringe-- We have evidence that shows dancers
actually sublux their hips whenever they perform splits. Subluxation of a joint occurs just before
dislocation and is when the bone actually starts to come out of the socket. If you are not sure what this
means for our bodies let me just clarify for you. It's bad. Really really bad!! The hip is a VERY deep and
stable joint, there is absolutely no reason it should EVER dislocate or sublux, so the fact that being in just
a split does this is very disturbing. Especially considering that most of our dancers often perform "over splits" to continuously try and become more flexible. AH! I will most definitely be writing a lot more about this one.....
I have no many more things I could add to this list, it was not easily to narrow it down- trust me! I hope I
have not bored you to death yet :-)
As I mentioned, I will be expanding on most of these topics but please feel free to contact me if there is
one in particular that sounds interesting to you. I will gladly make sure to address those requests first!
Also, if you cannot tell I am a huge advocate for being a member of IADMS. I do encourage everyone to
go check out their website at www.iadms.org. They have a ton a great free resources for dancers,
educators and health professionals.
If you are a dance teacher, Pilates teacher, healthcare provider etc. I also would encourage you to
consider joining. It is really not very expensive for the year and the value to your dancers is
immeasurable. Plus, we have a lot of fun ;-)
Thanks for letting me share the joy of dance medicine with you!