Aloha! I hope everyone is getting back “intro the swing of things” as the new dance / academic year starts up!
Today we are pleased to offer you another piece of exciting information from the UK — we last posted Erin Sanchez’s article on One Dance UK / NIDMS (National Institute for Dance Medicine and Science), and all the good work going on in that country.
This post is from Claire Farmer, another one of the younger generation of dance medicine & science leaders in the UK. Claire is a dancer / Associate Lecturer at Roehampton University, and is also affiliated with One Dance UK. She initiated the website Dance Longer Dance Stronger, and in 2016 launched the Performers Health Hub mobile app, to allow those in the UK dance community to connect more easily with dance medicine healthcare and resources. She now working on eventually launching a USA version of the app.
Enjoy reading about all her good work, and pass it on!
Jan Dunn, MS, Dance Wellness Editor
by Claire Farmer, MSc
Have you ever felt a twinge, or something that didn’t feel quite right but you’ve also got a class in 10 minutes, followed by a rehearsal and then a million other things to do, so you’ll work out what to do later?
BUT WAIT – STOP!! Shouldn’t our body be our first priority, as our main tool for our work? We know that dancers are busy, but that they also need to be able to quickly access specialist healthcare and to find reliable information on how to care for their body. Luckily, there is a wealth of information available from experts in dancers’ health – but unfortunately this information often doesn’t always make its way to the dancer.
That’s where the Performers Health Hub App comes in. Launched in the UK in November 2016, the app is now expanding to the US. The aim of the app is to quickly connect dancers with reliable, evidence based information on a range of topics including warming up and cooling down, fitness, stretching, hypermobility and nutrition. The app has been developed in response to the high injury rate among dancers and the lack of time available due to the nature of their work, to conduct thorough research in locating top quality healthcare.
If you do experience an injury, the app will also help you to search for a dance medicine specialist near you – either private treatment, practitioners who accept your insurance, or one of the few specialized dance medicine centres scattered across the US – or if you’re in the UK, one of the few free ones. Making sure you receive the best care to ensure you reach your optimal potential as a dancer, and receive the best rehabilitation as a performer, is our top priority.
A study into injury rates in professional modern dancers concluded that a total of 82% of dancers experienced between 1 and 7 injuries within the previous 12 months(1). Of those that sought medical attention 47% were to physicians, 41% to physical therapists and 34% to chiropractors(1). Similar research in the UK reported that 80% of all dancers (professional and student) will suffer an injury each year through training, rehearsal of performance(2) or as a result of fatigue and overwork, insufficient warming-up or cooling-down, recurring injury or not being able to respond to the early warning signs of injury(3).
This highlights the need for dancers to quickly, and easily find the specialist care that will enable them to return to dance training and performance as soon as possible. Resources on the Performers Health Hub are drawn from a consortium of UK organisations at the forefront of dance medicine and science research and advocacy – including: National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS), One Dance UK, Safe in Dance International, British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM), and also the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS). It will now expand to include resources and clinics in the United States and Canada.
Experiencing an injury can be a very lonely and challenging time for a dancer, and it is hoped that the app will not only help the dancer seek specialist care and information, but to also reduce that feeling of isolation. There are many things we can do to support each other as a dance community internationally and the Performers Health Hub app aims to draw these connections closer, providing support for dancers wherever they are in the world and connecting them with others who have gone through similar experiences.
The app will continue to grow as resources expand and through feedback from dancers, with regular updates taking place to ensure the most up to date information is in the palm of your hand.
Dance Longer Dance Stronger
Dance Longer Dance Stronger was established in 2014, growing out of a need to encourage dancers to be more open about injuries and training, the struggles they face and the training methods they use. Dance Longer Dance Stronger aims to open communication between dancers, and between health professionals so there is a two-way dialogue and so that should a dancer face an injury, they don’t feel alone in dealing with it.
Dance Longer Dance Stronger aims to connect dancers with other dancers who have faced similar health related issues and help dancers find specialist healthcare and easy-to-digest, reliable resources as quickly and easily as possible.
(1)Shah, S,. Weiss, D,. & Burchette, R. (2012) Injuries in professional modern dancers: incidence, risk factors, and management
(2)Laws, H (2005) Fit to Dance 2, Dance UK, Newgate Press, UK: London
(3)Brinson, P & Dick, F (1996) Fit to Dance, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, UK: London