a female getting her back adjusted by a doctor

Pain in the Lower Back? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Ignore It

Feeling a pain in the low back, near the sacrum? Struggling to put weight on one leg? Experiencing discomfort while hiking, walking long distances, or climbing stairs? These symptoms could be signs of sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction. “In dancers, that area does take a pounding, and it can definitely be a pain generator more often than in the general public,” says Barry Sigrist, co-director of Production Physiotherapy, a UK-based physical therapy practice specializing in treating performers.

a female dancer hanging up a white dress on stage

How to Navigate a Performing Career While Grieving

Navigating the death of a friend, relative, or partner is a profoundly emotional experience. Because grief also impacts the body on a physical level, the unique demands of a dance career can add additional challenges. “The way the body responds is such a huge part of dancers’ jobs,” says Olga Gonithellis, the founder of Creativity Mental Health Counseling, a New York City–based mental health practice that works with artists, performers, and other creatives. “Grief has physical symptoms that are wide-ranging.”

Young woman massaging her foot

How to Identify and Treat Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of thick tissue on the bottom of the foot called plantar fascia. It often shows up in dancers as pain in the heel, especially when doing weight-bearing exercise. Metzl notes that it’s often most painful first thing in the morning, and symptoms can ebb and flow throughout the day.

an audience watching a man speak on stage

The 2023 International Association for Dance Medicine & Science Conference Explored Dancers’ Physical and Mental Health

More than 500 dance medicine and education professionals gather each year, both in person and virtually, to share and learn how to better achieve health for dancers, and health for our communities through dance. The most recent conference, held in Columbus, Ohio, in October 2023, hosted 121 presentations and movement/interactive sessions and 22 poster presentations by practitioners from all over the world. Here is a small sampling of the remarkable breadth of work presented and topics discussed.

a female dancer wearing black balancing on her shoulder with her legs straight up

A Dancer’s Guide to Managing Panic Attacks

Although panic attacks can be incredibly scary and debilitating for anyone, the performance-based nature of dance introduces additional challenges. For Patrick, the intense anxiety that sometimes resulted in panic attacks inhibited her from attending auditions. “I felt, because of my anxiety, I wouldn’t be able to make it through auditions,” she remembers.

Tips For Preventing and Managing Shin Splints

Shin splints, or medial tibial stress syndrome, refers to “pain in the muscles on the front of the lower leg, below the knee and along the shin bone,” says Joshua Honrado, DAT, an athletic trainer who works with dancers at NYU Langone’s Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Dancers are particularly prone to shin splints, especially when they experience a sudden increase in rehearsals or performances, such as during Nutcracker season.

Young woman after an ACL surgery, sitting on the couch adjusting her knee orthosis.

How Physical Injuries Can Impact Mental Health

Dancers suffering from an injury should consider emotional recovery as well as physical recovery and, if experiencing mental health challenges, seek professional help. According to Mainwaring, finding someone to confide in is key, particularly a psychologist or psychiatrist who has experience working with dancers.

Young tired unhealthy mixed race woman sitting on couch in living room at home with closed eyes, holding head with hand, suffering from strong sudden headache or migraine, throbbing pain.

A Dancer’s Guide to Managing Migraines

Migraines affect more than a billion people worldwide. Despite their prevalence, migraines can be unpredictable and debilitating, and can present unique challenges, particularly for dancers.

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