Prevent Injury Without Breaking the Bank

March 12, 2012

In an ideal world, all dancers would have access to free physical therapy all the time. At even the slightest sign of pain, you could consult a professional who would locate the source of the problem and help you treat it. Imagine! Alas, unless you’re part of a company or school with good health benefits, such basic care is more like a prohibitively expensive luxury. (A few years ago, when I sprained my ankle, I paid $100 a pop for physical therapy sessions. Goodbye, rent money.)


For dancers without health insurance, who might find themselves in a bind if injury strikes, the best thing to do is to avoid getting hurt in the first place. And if you live in New York—or even if you’re just visiting for a day—there is a way to do that at no cost: by signing up for a free One-on-One Injury Prevention Assessment at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries.


During this hour-long, individualized session, you meet with a physical therapist (all of the Harkness therapists specialize in treating dancers) who evaluates your strengths and weaknesses, then gives you a series of exercises tailored to your needs. I tried it a couple of years ago and found it to be hugely helpful. I was about to leave for a two-week summer dance workshop, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle five hours a day in the studio (after an average of about, well, zero). My only regret was having not signed up earlier. I came away with knowledge about my body—what I had been overusing, what I hadn’t been using at all—and tools for building strength and stability that could have benefited me long ago. The upshot: It’s well worth an hour of your time—and can save you a lot of pain (and money) in the future. Here are more details on what happens during an assessment and how to schedule one. —Siobhan Burke


Photo courtesy Harkness Center.