Aiming to show how heather dancing is better dancing, we will be looking at some issues that can keep you from dancing, and lets face it, if you’re not dancing you’re not the best dancer you can be!
In our last post we saw how dance injuries or pain can fall into two major categories. The acute ones from accidents or the more common aches that slowly develop over time due to how you are working. These are the ‘over use injuries’ and pain your body creates as warning signs that something is not right but understanding these pains can be like interpreting a foreign language you don’t quite know yet.
Appreciating what your body is telling you through ‘over use pains’, you need to ask your self why is one particular part of the body is over working and potentially compensating for other parts? Now excluding the situation where a choreographic passage is overloading a particular body region and just avoiding that movement will fix things you need to really think about why things are happening. An example of the ‘lateral thinking’ needed to understand this scan be seen in a dancer I recently treated who could hardly walk entering my office. After being off with a groin injury for six weeks she was just getting back into shape and was asked to step into a leading role for another injured dancer on an important tour. The performance went well but since then her hamstrings muscles on one side have been so tight she had trouble moving let alone dancing. She had already seen other practitioners and everyone had treated her hamstring muscles that were tight but with little change of her symptoms.
Taking into account other aspects of health, such as the social or mental factors and with all the pressure to perform well, I realized she might have not been using the most ideal muscles to dance with. I then tested the tightness in the front of her legs (the antagonist muscles of the hamstrings, the quadriceps). These turned out to be extremely tight, even more than the hamstrings in the back of the leg. Within a few minutes of releasing these anterior muscles she soon felt a substantial release of tension in the back of her painful leg and was almost entirely pain free on walking and moving (the tight front muscles were eventually pulling so much that the hamstrings in the back were under constant pressure). She went back to dancing the next day and after a few days was dancing at her full capacity.
Overuse pain is often on one side of your leg so don’t forget to check what’s happening on the other side due to compensation mechanisms. This is true for the front and back or the inside and out side of the leg! Frequently dancers complain of hip pain but it’s actually the abductor muscles (those taking the leg away from the body to the side) that are compensating for tight adductors (the muscles bring the leg toward the centre of the body) muscles on the inner thighs. We can release a great deal of this discomfort and pain in their hip movements by releasing their not painful, but to tight adductors. Curiously this is not just about stretching but actually going in and finding and releasing the knots. Yes when you find a knot the seemingly non-painful part of the adductors can be quite sensitive when you find the right knots!
This is a example how working out and testing different parts of our body’s and not just the painful areas can help us keep dancing!
The body is a marvelously complex balance and we really need to consider all the factors we can in dealing with dancers difficulties.
Peter Lewton-Brain, DO, MA Is a osteopath and dance educator working both in Monaco and Cannes. He is on the board of directors of IADMS. www.iadms.org