- Author Dr. Grant Lum
- Published June 1, 2012
- Word count 635
Theatre is a wonderful form of entertainment and depends on performing artists who are highly dedicated to their craft to create the magic so often found there. The industry, however, is highly competitive and extremely demanding of performers. When people think of athletes they may picture football, tennis or basketball players or long distance runners. But like other athletes, dancers and musicians also experience injury and develop conditions as a result of their trade.
Professional musicians and dancers face common injuries like tendinitis, sprains, muscle strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back pain, and other orthopedic, neurologic and musculoskeletal conditions.
Think about the repetitive nature of practice and performance for string musicians, pianists and wind instrument players. It’s little wonder they often suffer from conditions related to overuse of the tendons, ligaments, muscles and joints. Neck and shoulder pain is very common. So is pain in the hands. Dancers tend to face musculoskeletal and orthopedic conditions involving the feet, ankles, hips and knees and are also more prone to injury regarding bones and ligaments such as the ACL.
For these reasons preventative medicine and sports therapy for performing artists are growing.
Occasionally chronic injuries and/or conditions develop as a result of incorrect posture, stress, insufficient rest and excessive force placed upon the bones, ligaments, joints, muscles or tendons. Passion that drives performing artists also tends to produce people so committed to the craft they often tend to accept a lifestyle of injury as easily as they’ve embraced the physical demands placed upon them. But the two are not the same, and injury left untreated can jeopardize a performer’s career. Performing artists who ignore early symptoms of an injury or condition and continue working, without allowing conditions or injuries to heal, aren’t thinking of the long term consequences to their body and their ability to work. Ignoring a small problem now can lead to a larger one later.
Preventative medicine and sports therapy for performing artists can teach them how to avoid injury and reduce the likelihood of a developing an unwanted condition. Performers can learn techniques for reducing force on joints by selectively strengthening and balancing the muscles needed to perform. Musicians can learn about how different postures reduce muscle tension produced while playing their instruments. Dancers who struggle with osteoarthritis in their hips and knees may receive Durolane injections directly into the joints to lubricate them, relieving pain and inflammation. Can you imagine how much relief this brings to a dancer otherwise forcing him or herself to continue dancing in pain?
Techniques that both dancers and musicians can adopt include warm up and cool down exercises, stretches, short breaks, adjustments in technique, use of devices and modified foot gear, massage therapy and more. Sports therapy professionals can work with performing artists to stretch and loosen tight areas and strengthen weak ones. Combination treatment options like injections in correlation with procedures for reducing inflammation and blood flow to a targeted region are essential restorative therapies which often remove the need for surgery.
It is not uncommon to see medical personnel from sports therapy clinics present at rehearsals and performances. These behind the scenes professionals can do wonders to support and enhance performing artists, helping them avoid injury and also mitigating injuries to avoid further damage. Sports medicine is a quickly evolving industry and medical advances are constant. Performing artists stand to increase their rate of long-term success by establishing and building a relationship with a good sports therapy clinic that understands and specializes in treatment of people in their industry.
Sound care now becomes an investment enabling performing artists to increase their level of pain-free comfort, physical strength, enjoyment and longevity within the field they are passionate about — and that many hope to continue well into their senior years.