Dancers, do you want to elevate your performance? Do you want to protect yourself as much as you can from injuries? A great place to start is with a full body assessment, better known as a dancer wellness screen, by a Physical Therapist (PT) that specializes in dance medicine. At Integral Physical Therapy, our PTs have extensive knowledge and experience in dance medicine, and we are here to help!
What is a dancer wellness screen?
A dancer wellness screen includes an assessment of posture, alignment, flexibility, balance, and strength. The PT will have the dancer perform movements, skills, and positions that are dance-specific to evaluate those five things and look at the quality of movement. This is a hands-on assessment, and the PT will take measurements and photos (with permission) to help establish a baseline and track progress. We also offer concussion baseline testing for dancers, which allows a more thorough injury assessment in the event of a concussion. Concussions are less common in dancers than other sports but do happen often enough that baseline testing is highly recommended.
Why is this important?
The purpose of a dancer wellness screen is to assess the dancer as a whole to check for movement inefficiencies, muscle weaknesses, joint instability, and mobility deficits that could hinder overall performance and lead to injuries. Dancers do a LOT of skills and spend a LOT of time in classes performing movements that most people don’t do. So it is very important to make sure that your body is properly equipped to handle this. It is even more crucial for young dancers that are growing. When your long bones grow, muscles and tendons have to catch up. It is very easy to develop muscle imbalances and poor movement patterns as your body adjusts to this new height. Wellness screens can catch these imbalances and movement inefficiencies and help you correct them.
How do we utilize the information found in the screen to improve performance and prevent injuries?
The PT will discuss the results with you (and your dance instructor or parent if necessary) and create an individualized program with specific tools to help you correct any muscle weaknesses, deficits in mobility, etc. These tools can include specific strengthening exercises, stretches, and soft tissue mobilization techniques that you can do at home. If the PT notices something like significant muscle weakness on one side compared to the other side or significant joint instability, then a more in-depth evaluation with treatment sessions would be recommended.
When should I sign-up for a wellness screen?
Because dance is year-round, you can sign up anytime! However, we recommend doing this assessment before getting into the busy season of recitals and competitions or before going on tour. That way you can incorporate the recommendations from the assessment during your “off-season” to help you be at the top of your dance game when your busy season starts.
How often should I complete a wellness screen?
Our recommendation is to complete the screen annually, especially for young, growing dancers. As your body changes and as you progress in dance, we want to make sure your risk for injury is as low as possible. So you can get that new skill, move up to the next level, and do what you love as long as you can!
We offer testing both through dance programs on-site or individual testing at our local clinic in East Cobb.
Contact us today to set up your dancer wellness screen or if you have any other questions!