Today’s post is the first of our Guest Writer contributions in Dance Wellness. Sarah Graham, PT, is a dance medicine provider working in Denver, CO, where she is Co-Director of Denver Dance Medicine Associates. Her article on working with a dance medicine PT is meant to give you information on what to expect when working with a physical therapist who specializes in dance medicine.
It could also be useful if you have a good PT who is interested in working with dancers, but does not have the background or dance knowledge base. You could give that person Sarah’s article, along with information on IADMS (International Association for Dance Medicine and Science), and that could help them get started. Many dance medicine PT’s are not former dancers themselves, but through a love of dance and dancers, became specialists by a dancer connecting them to the field in that way.
Jan Dunn, MS – 4dancers Dance Wellness Editor
by Sarah Graham, PT
Since dancers’ bodies endure more than their fair share of physical use, working with a physical therapist is a natural partnership. Many companies have a PT on staff to regularly treat the dancers and provide care prior to and after performances. For those without a PT, finding a dance familiar physical therapist can impact how quickly a dancer returns to dancing as well as provide valuable education to prevent future episodes of an injury.
Most outpatient orthopedic physical therapists with strong manual therapy skills will be able to help a dancer with an injury. Manual therapy is a clinical approach using skilled hands-on techniques, including but not limited to manipulation/ mobilization to diagnose and treat soft tissues and joint structures to increase range of motion in the joint, decrease pain, facilitate movement and improve function. However, two important elements that an outpatient PT who is familiar with dance will bring are:
-an understanding of the physical demands on a dancer
– the ability to assess dance technique for alignment/technique errors which may be contributing to the injury
Often when an injury is sustained, a patient will need to avoid aggravating activities or take time off from certain aspects of their exercise routine. That works well for mere mortals who have a desk job, but won’t get a professional dancer ready for an upcoming show! A PT needs to understand the psyche of a dancer in order to effectively work with them. Most of the dancers I work with dance because they have to. Dancing is ingrained in them as part of their soul, and the need to dance is as natural and necessary as breathing is. [Read more…]