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Dance Rehab & Conditioning: How Physical Therapy Can Help

LWPT physical therapist Kathryn Jankord practicing her dance routine

Dance-specific rehabilitation and conditioning is an essential component of any dancer’s self-care and physical maintenance routine. As a dancer, you ask a lot of your body on a daily basis, and it’s crucial to make sure you give it the specific care it needs to continue to perform at a high level. Finding a quality physical therapist with the proper experience and training to either help you recover from an injury or take your performance capabilities to the next level can be difficult. At Life’s Work Physical Therapy, you’ll receive excellent care from a manual therapy-certified physical therapist who also has more than 20 years of experience in dance and performance art.

Dance Rehabilitation

Dance rehabilitation is physical therapy with a strong focus on dance-specific movement. The rehabilitation process can address both new and old injuries with exercises and activities intentionally aimed at dance-specific movements. For instance, if a ballet dancer sprains their ankle, their rehab will need to focus on getting back en pointe. Exercises need to be done in a turned-out position and the dancer needs coaching on how to safely return to full classes and rehearsal. Without proper guidance, a dancer may return too early and re-injure or prolong the healing process. Often the dancer does not need to refrain from all class work, but will need to modify classes and their dance schedule to allow for proper healing.

With intimate knowledge of both injury and dance-specific movements, a qualified physical therapist with a dance background can help determine how to safely modify your classes and training activities. They’ll understand your goals, use dance-specific terminology, set realistic expectations about healing with regards to performances, and tailor the rehab program to dance-specific movements.

Dance Conditioning

In addition to help you recover from an injury, a qualified physical therapist can help you take your performance capabilities to the next level with a dance-specific conditioning program that focuses on the performer as a whole.

Conditioning can help a dancer get ready to transition into pointe shoes, improve balance and flexibility, increase jump height, strength for partnering, cardiovascular endurance and more. If there is some part of your dancing that is difficult for you, find a dance conditioning program with a qualified physical therapist who can help you improve in specific areas in a one-on-one environment.

Dance conditioning may also include some cross training. Cross training is when a dancer does another activity, different from dance, which supports improvements in their dance technique through muscular strengthening, flexibility training, and cardiovascular exercise. It can be difficult and intimidating trying to find a cross training activity that addresses some area that is lacking, but does not have the potential to negatively impact your dance. Working closely with a dance therapist can help you identify the right cross training activities to reach your goals.

Whether you are looking for dance rehabilitation or conditioning, take your time and do your research. With 20 years of dance experience and a degree in dance, I’m as passionate about dance as my clients and want nothing more than to get my patients back to center stage. If you are in the Portland area, call Life’s Work Physical Therapy at 503-295-2585 and book your assessment today – I can’t wait to meet you!

Kathryn Jankord, DPT, BFA, BS

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