Physical therapy to help dancers cope with injuries

BalletThumbPhoto courtesy of FacebookHoping to become professional dancers, Chloe Bennett and Miya Bates, both aged 15, realize that dealing with injuries is part of their profession. Bennett and Bates both attend the School of Alberta Ballet, and hope to one day join a professional ballet company.

“I moved to Calgary and started at the school when I was in Grade 6,” Bennett said.

“It was scary to leave (Lethbridge) at first but I knew how much I wanted to dance and I knew that training here would help my chances to dance with a company one day.”

Both girls dance six days a week, around four hours a day, interspersed with their academic studies. But the commitment and rigorous schedule takes a toll on their bodies, Bates said.

“My worst injury was when I got tendonitis and had to adjust my training so that I wouldn’t do certain lifts or jumps for a couple months,” Bates said. BalletMiyaMiya Bates deals with injuries daily due to the rigorous training. Having physiotherapy specialist on-site, Bates says, speeds up the healing process.

Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Just over a year ago Deb Weimer joined the School of Alberta Ballet as an on-site physiotherapist. Weimer works at the school twice a week and said that having her help with injuries has really benefited the students.

“The benefits of having a rehabilitation team on site goes beyond just helping them recover from their injuries,” Weimer said. “I also take the opportunity to educate the students on prevention, future care, when they should recognize when to stop and when to know to ask for help with their injuries.”

Both Bennett and Bates said that having specialists on hand, which includes a chiropractor, speeds up the healing process and has been very important.

Edmund Stripe, a former professional dancer and now an instructor for the senior students at the school, said that injuries are inevitably common occurrences.

However Stripe says long-term injuries can be avoided.

“Most dancers are very impatient and want to get back to dancing as soon as possible after an injury and this is of course not what is always best for the dancer, but is often necessary to avoid injuring themselves worse,” Stripe said.

Meanwhile, some dancers worry that an injury can take them out of the game completely, or determine what they can do after they no longer dance —
a fear that professional dancer Kelly McKinlay can attest to.

“I’ve thought about what I want to do after my dance career comes to an end and I always thought that maybe I would want to be a firefighter, but if I get a serious injury it might be really tough to pursue that,” McKinlay said. “We always have to be thinking about these types of things which is why our training is very important, so we don’t get injured.”

Most common injuries according to

The following is a list of the most frequent of them, in order of severity:

1. Spasm
2. Muscle or ligament tear (or strain)
3. Tendonitis
4. Sprain
5. Dislocation
6. Fracture
7. Overload (chronicle fatigue) syndromes
8. Vascular syndromes

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