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Strength & Conditioning for Dancers

Strength & Conditioning for Dancers

I’ve always enjoyed going to the gym. Even when I was doing daily ballet classes and 8 shows a week on Broadway, I still made the time to get to the gym. I’d do free weights, spin classes, kick boxing, laps in the pool – whatever got my muscles working and heart pumping. I felt strong, had great endurance and a notable lack of injury in a dance career of such longevity. This was decades ago and way before strength training and conditioning was a thing for dancers. But with the evidence now well and truly behind this type of supplemental training, more and more dancers are seeking ways to reduce the risk of injury and improve the “performance” in their performance!

What is Strength and Conditioning Training?

Strength and conditioning consist of a selection of dynamic and static exercises used to even out muscle imbalances and improve and enhance an athlete’s performance. It has been used for years in athletic populations with proven outcomes.  

Strength training

Strength training uses resistance such as weights or body weight to target specific muscles or muscle groups while working at a challenging intensity to achieve strength gains. Squats, lunges, push ups and dead lifts are examples of strength exercises. For strength gains the exercise should be conducted at a challenging intensity, for a specified number of repetitions and sets, about three times a week.

strength training

Conditioning

Conditioning through aerobic and anaerobic training works to improve the cardiovascular system - the performance of the heart and lungs and their ability to uptake and transport oxygen to the working muscles of the body. Jogging, skip rope, cycling and swimming are all examples of aerobic exercise, performed for a prescribed amount of time, to develop cardiorespiratory capacity and endurance. Exercise such as sprinting and burpees on the other hand work to increase anaerobic capacity which is needed for intense energy movements such as a series of grand jete’s.

Conditioning

Why Should Dancers Train This Way?

Traditionally dancers train in dance class, and while classes work to improve technique, artistry, and dance skills, they don’t necessarily develop strength and cardiovascular conditioning.

It doesn’t matter if you’re doing ballet, contemporary or street dance styles, all forms of dance have a disparity between the cardiovascular fitness required for class and rehearsal, compared with what is needed for the dance performance. If fact research shows us that professional ballet and contemporary dancers are only as strong and fit as their healthy, but fairly sedentary, non-dancer counterparts. This may come as a surprise to dancers and dance educators alike – after all, with all the classes most dancers attended each week how can their “fitness” be so ordinary?

If I’m attending hours of dance classes per week, how can my strength and “fitness” be so ordinary?

Read on and I’ll explain…it’s in the way that dancers traditionally train that makes the difference.

Dance classes and cardiorespiratory fitness

Traditional dance classes are for the most part, a stop and start affair. The dancer stops all activity, or gently “marks” the movement, as they learn the next exercise or combination, or to take corrections from the dance educator or choreographer. There may be brief sections, such as traveling across the floor with explosive jumps that can get the dancer really puffing, but that is usually short lived, and only a small part of the overall class. So, the type of cardiovascular exercise provided by dance class will not generally lend itself to cardiorespiratory fitness, and this can prove problematic once performances come around and a dancer’s endurance is really put to the test.

We know through years of research that fatigue is one of the biggest reasons dancers injure themselves. Sadly, a common story I hear from dancers in clinic is they’ve hurt themselves when landing badly from a jump, or falling out of a turn, toward the end of their dance when they were fatigued. The length of a dance number will challenge cardiovascular endurance and those big bursts of energy need anaerobic capacity. Therefore, a long dance with big jumps at the end can be a landmine to navigate for those without capacity to perform them safely. It seems the last decade or so the physical demands placed on a dancer have increased as choreography has become increasingly more challenging with “tricks” and kicks and jumps galore. Professional dancers and students alike are now required to have a higher level of cardiovascular fitness than ever before for them to perform well and safely. 

Dance classes and strength

Strength training is pretty much any type of training you do against an opposing force. When it comes to strength building in dance class there is little resistance, usually only your own body weight as resistance (unless of course you are lifting something or someone). Dancers are usually familiar with the use of elastic bands or tubing as resistance, particularly to strengthen the feet and toes, but are less familiar with using other types of resistance equipment such as dumbbells, barbells, medicine balls, kettle bells and weight machines.  

Some may have stayed away from this type of weighted exercise due to an outdated belief – especially by those in the ballet world - that this type of training would affect the body shape and aesthetics. Thankfully this unfounded concern is being replaced with a focus on strengthening and having a robust tool – the dancer’s body. Most dancers and dance educators now realize the increasing physical demands placed on dancers truly requires additional conditioning to attain the strength and power to optimally perform much of the choreography. Consequently, today’s dancers are happily picking up a kettlebells or dumbbells, in order to improve their performance.

The benefits of strength and conditioning training for dancers

 The body of evidence from research in this field continues to grow and simply amounts to the fact that resistance training can have a significant positive effect on a dancer’s dynamic balance, leg strength (improving hop height and distance) and upper limb stability, without any detrimental effect on aesthetic or artistic elements.

Resistance training also has an osteogenic effect – meaning it helps build bone. A study on pre-pubescent gymnasts who participated in resistance training showed they had stronger bones than age matched gymnasts who did not. This may reduce the risk of bone stress injury or fractures that keep you out of dance training and performances for extended period. There is also the important fact that doing resistance training early in life will reduce the risk of fractures due to osteoporosis later on.

The bottom line is, your regular dance classes may well be improving your technique and artistry, but you could be working in other ways to build your strength and conditioning to improve your dance performance.

How Do I Get Started with a Strength Training and Conditioning Program?

Now that you know strength training and conditioning can improve your performance and help reduce injury risk, you’re keen to know how to get started right? We have Dance Physiotherapists here at PhysioTec that would love to help guide you with an exercise program tailored to your specific strength and conditioning needs.

You can visit the clinic for 1:1 program development, or you might like to find a friend or 2 to train with at Physiotec. We can organise a group training program in our gym with one of our dance physio's at a time that suits you. Please give us a call. You might be surprised how much you enjoy this type of training!

This blog was written by one of our Physiotec Dance Physiotherapists, Joanne Manning

Strength and Conditioning Training for Dancers

If you would like to start your strength and conditioning journey, come along and see one of our friendly dance physios at Physiotec, whether you are a beginner or need some guidance with your current program, our physios will know how to help. Call, email or book online below:

Phone: (07) 3342 4284

Email: [email protected]

Explore Some More Dance Blogs

References

Bronner, S., Ojofeitimi, S., Lora, J., Southwick, H., Kulak, M., Gamboa, J., Rooney, M., Gilman, G. and Gibbs, R., 2014. A Preseason Cardiorespiratory Profile of Dancers in Nine Professional Ballet and Modern Companies. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 18(2), pp.74-85. https://doi.org/10.12678/1089-313X.18.2.74

Bronner, S., Codman, E., Hash-Campbell, D. and Ojofeitimi, S., 2016. Differences in Preseason Aerobic Fitness Screening in Professional and Pre-professional Modern Dancers. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 20(1), pp.11-22. https://doi.org/10.12678/1089-313X.20.1.11

Rodrigues-Krause, J., Krause, M. and Reischak-Oliveira, Á., 2015. Cardiorespiratory Considerations in Dance: From Classes to Performances. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 19(3), pp.91-102. https://doi.org/10.12678/1089-313X.19.3.91

Faulkner, E., 2021. Choreography-Specific Cross-Training and Conditioning Programs. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, 32(1), pp.103-115. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmr.2020.09.003.

Rosenthal, M., McPherson, A., Docherty, C. and Klossner, J., 2021. Perceptions and Utilization of Strength Training and Conditioning in Collegiate Contemporary and Ballet Dancers: A Qualitative Approach. Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 36(2), pp.78-87. https://doi.org/10.21091/mppa.2021.2012

Farmer, C. and Brouner, J., 2021. Perceptions of Strength Training in Dance. Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 25(3), pp.160-168. https://doi.org/10.12678/1089-313X.091521a

Ambegaonkar, J. P., Chong, L., & Joshi, P., 2021. Supplemental Training in Dance: A Systematic Review. Physical medicine and rehabilitation clinics of North America32(1), 117–135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pmr.2020.09.006

Koutedakis, Y., Hukam, H., Metsios, G., Nevill, A., Giakas, G., Jamurtas, A., & Myszkewycz, L., 2007. The effects of three months of aerobic and strength training on selected performance- and fitness-related parameters in modern dance students. Journal of strength and conditioning research21(3), 808–812. https://doi.org/10.1519/R-20856.1 

Dowse, R. A., McGuigan, M. R., & Harrison, C., 2020. Effects of a Resistance Training Intervention on Strength, Power, and Performance in Adolescent Dancers. Journal of strength and conditioning research34(12), 3446–3453. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0000000000002288

Needham-Beck, S. C., Wyon, M. A., & Redding, E., 2019. Relationship Between Performance Competence and Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Contemporary Dance. Medical problems of performing artists34(2), 79–84. https://doi.org/10.21091/mppa.2019.2014

Long, K. L., Milidonis, M. K., Wildermuth, V. L., Kruse, A. N., & Parham, U. T., 2021. The Impact of Dance-Specific Neuromuscular Conditioning and Injury Prevention Training on Motor Control, Stability, Balance, Function and Injury in Professional Ballet Dancers: A Mixed-Methods Quasi-Experimental Study. International journal of sports physical therapy16(2), 404–417. https://doi.org/10.26603/001c.21150

Smith, P. J., Gerrie, B. J., Varner, K. E., McCulloch, P. C., Lintner, D. M., & Harris, J. D., 2015. Incidence and Prevalence of Musculoskeletal Injury in Ballet: A Systematic Review. Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine3(7), 2325967115592621. https://doi.org/10.1177/2325967115592621

Bass S, Pearce G, Bradney M, Hendrich E, Delmas PD, Harding A, Seeman E. Exercise before puberty may confer residual benefits in bone density in adulthood: studies in active prepubertal and retired female gymnasts. J Bone Miner Res. 1998;13(3):500–7.

 

Is your ‘normal’ enough, and how do you know?

Is your ‘normal’ enough, and how do you know?

After any injury, pain or illness we experience, we want to get back to normal. Our natural healing system plays a critical role in any of these scenarios and there will always be a minimum amount of time1 that it takes for your body to recover, tissues to heal, to regain movement, to regain confidence and return to your normal functional ability. People seek help when they are injured or in pain as they don’t know what to do, how long it will take, how to regain their normal function and how to avoid it happening again. But is just regaining your normal enough? Was your 'normal' not strong enough or fit enough to avoid getting injured?

Pain that develops for no apparent reason

The factors that contribute to the development of pain in any individual is as wide and varied as individuals themselves. You may be fit, strong and healthy but you experience pain after an accident or unexpected incident like a motor vehicle accident or dancing at a wedding after a few drinks. When we analyse why people have experienced pain or injury, we look for the factors that could have been avoided and factors we can change to reduce the chance of recurrence. In the above cases it is not intrinsic {internal} factors that caused the development of pain but external factors e.g., the car behind you not stopping or the consumption of one too many martinis! Sometimes we have no control over these external factors and it’s just bad luck. A very fit, strong and healthy athlete can get injured because of the nature of the sport – high velocity & high risk and this is why sports teams have more money than any other organisations spent on sports medicine but still have high injury rates. The athletes are pushing the limits of human performance.

The majority of pain scenarios we see in clinic are not in people who are as fit, strong and healthy as they could be. Everyday people do not generally train just for day-to-day life. Pain or injury can develop seemingly from just going about your daily living. Back pain is one of the most common musculoskeletal condition reported to general medical pracitioners2 and normally from just day to day living. “I hurt my back packing the dishwasher”, “I just started getting hip pain on one of my normal walks I’ve done hundreds of times”. It is these scenarios where it is fair to question your normal - your normal fitness, your normal strength and your normal state of mind. As we age our normal does naturally change. Sarcopenia is a horrible sounding word but important to know as we age - muscle size reduces and fitness and physical capacity declines. Although nature plays this card, we don’t have to just let it all go. As one of my 13-year-old patients quipped one day after I showed him an exercise and groaned getting off the floor – “I’m getting old” I said. He replied without pause, “don’t use that as an excuse – you’re just getting unfit!” Ouch! – and he was right…

How improving strength and physical capacity can help pain and reduce injury risk

When you seek professional assistance for your pain or injury it is highly likely that in addition to a diagnosis and analysis, education about your situation, maybe some manual therapy treatment and advice on how to manage your recovery - you will also be given some exercises to do. Exactly how these exercises change things is a hot topic in our physiotherapy circles, but the general aim is always the same - to improve your functional ability and minimise the chance of your pain recurring. A primary aim of many exercises is to make you stronger.

Strength is the measurement of the ability to produce force and links to my favourite word in rehabilitation – capacity. Oxford says capacity is “the maximum amount that something can contain” OR “the amount that something can produce” If your capacity is not enough to withstand day to day load, repetition or stressors, then something will give. If your capacity is lower than it could be, this could be why you suddenly start to get pain for no apparent reason.

Measuring strength and physical capacity and tracking gains

Measuring strength is easy. With access to modern technology, we can quickly measure individual movement strength (like lifting your arm or straightening your knee). We measure, design a program to make you stronger, then remeasure after a time to check. More complicated measurements can be also done using advanced technology such as the AxIT system. With this versatile hardware (push device, pull device and force plates) linked to a variety of testing protocols, we can measure such things as your maximum lift, balance of a simple squat, jump strength, power and calculate more accurately if you need more strength, more power or more endurance. If you are not an athlete then this equipment is very useful for helping you not just get back to normal -but make your normal better.

“don’t just get back to normal - make your normal better”

Does more strength mean you will reduce the risk of injury? Absolutely yes! In every sport athletes train to improve their capacity to be able to produce more force and withstand the forces put upon them. For day-to-day life, it makes sense that improving your strength, thereby improving your capacity will reduce the risks of those pains and injuries that sneak up on us and affect our enjoyment of living. Aim to be able to lift a little more than you usually need to (washing basket, shopping bags), aim to be able to walk further than you usually need to (commute to work, shopping trips) and aim to be just a bit fitter, a bit stronger and have a bit more capacity. This will help you not only do the things you need to, but also enjoy the things you want to do. If you are fitter and stronger – if you have made your normal better – then not only will you be able to do more, but you’ll have more chance of withstanding those unexpected moments in life when greater capacity is needed to avoid an injury.

This blog was written by one of our Physiotec Sports Physiotherapists, David Peirce

If you would like to make your ‘normal’ better, come along and see one of our team at Physiotec, whether you are keen to prevent pain or injury or need help with recovering from injury and want to restore and surpass your previous normal. Call, email or book online below:

Phone: (07) 3342 4284

Email: [email protected]siotec.com.au

References

1. Soft Tissue Healing and its Impact on Rehabilitation Peggy Houglum Journal of Sports & Rehabilitation 1992 https://doi.org/10.1123/jsr.1.1.19

2. What are the most common conditions in primary care? Finley et al 2018 Can Fam Physician. 2018 Nov; 64(11): 832–840

3. Lauersen at al 2018 Strength training as superior, dose-dependent and safe prevention of acute and overuse sports injuries: a systematic review, qualitative analysis and meta-analysis https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/52/24/1557

Whole-Body Strength Training for Cyclists

Whole-Body Strength Training for Cyclists

As a cyclist, you’re constantly joking about only needing “legs and lungs”. The goal of a cyclist is to be as light as possible, with the highest amount of power to weight ratio coming from the legs, pushing into the pedals. That is why there are plenty of memes out there of cyclists with stick thin arms and torso, but with massive quads and hamstrings, and titles such as “Don’t miss leg day!”. Jokes aside, imbalances such as these can have a potentially detrimental effect on your long-term health. Strength training for cyclists is key for injury prevention and performance.

As cycling is a relatively low weight-bearing sport, it is beneficial for cyclists to engage in additional loaded strength training to address a variety of issues from bone density to muscular balance. Obviously, strength demands differ between cyclists – a road cyclist, track cyclist, mountain biker or BMX rider will all have very different needs, but the tips I share below can be used a general guideline, across all types of cycling.

 

 

Strength training for cyclists are a great addition to your training routine

Strength and conditioning programs should be kept as simple as possible. As often is the case, it is the simple stuff that works best and has stood the test of time.  The programs I recommend to a lot of my patients, typically contain the exercises below.

Sample workout
Compound Push (Knee Dominant) Back Squat/ Goblet Squat
Upper Body Push (Horizontal) Dumbbell Chest Press, Bench Press
Upper Body Pull (Horizontal) Bent over rows, Seated rows
Compound Pull Offset/Single Legged (Hip Dominant) Offset Romanian Deadlift, Offset Trap Bar Deadlift
Trunk Stability (Anti Rotation) Pallof Press, Plank + KB drags
*One of the Compound movements needs to be single legged or offset Work in 3 sets of 5-8 repetition with 2 RIR (Reps in Reserve)

By utilising a full body routine such as this, all the major components of the body will be covered, and even if a session is missed, you’ll know you are always covering the full body in each session. Optimally, you would want to engage this routine two times a week for adequate loading-for-strength benefits.

Compound movements are multi-joint movements which utilise multiple groups of muscles at the same time. Utilising a multi-joint movement under adequate weight helps to develop the ability to generate force through those joints. For a cyclist, the ability to generate better force in the hips and knees, coupled with bike specific training, may lead to an increase in power production.

I also added a note in the table to ensure one of the hip or knee dominant exercise needs to be either single legged or offset. Single leg/offset work is often underutilised, but is a very effective tool for stability. It also assists with restoring any imbalances you may have developed over the years, either through injuries or poor habits. I recommend that single-sided work be done towards the back end of the exercise session, as you would not often use as heavy weight. What’s more, doing single-sided work with a bit of fatigue from all the previous work sets will really challenge ones stability under appropriate weight.

The Importance of Upper Body Strength for Cyclists

For a cyclist, upper body work is not hugely important from a max strength or bulk point of view, however having good muscle tone in the upper body musculature is important for general well-being in everyday life. You don’t want to be “that” cyclist who is strong in the legs but weak with poor tone in the upper body, “that” cyclist who injures the neck or shoulder lifting a bag of groceries. Dependent on what field of cycling, some streams like track cycling and BMX may require a bit more upper body bulk and strength compared to road cycling and mountain biking.

Don’t forget to switch it up!

For a bit of variation in your workouts, you can alternate your sessions by switching the compound hip/knee dominant work around so you can focus the heavier work on the other compound exercises whilst offset/single leg work on the other. This will create a nice balance in loading for different movement patterns. I would try to do the heavy and double legged compound work at the start of the session and do the single leg or offset compound movements towards the mid or latter end of the session. Also for upper body work you can switch between horizontal movements like bench press and bent over rows with vertical upper body movements like overhead dumbbell press and lat pull down. See example in the table below.

Sample Variation
Compound Pull (Hip Dominant) Traditional deadlift, Trap-bar Deadlift
Upper Body Push (Vertical) Dumbbell Overhead Shoulder Press, Barbell overhead press
Upper Body Pull (Vertical) Lat Pull Down, Chin Ups
Compound Press Offset/Single legged (Knee Dominant) Bulgarian Split Squat, Lunges
Trunk Stability (Rotation) Woodchop, Medicine ball trunk rotations
*One of the Compound movements needs to be single legged or offset *Work in 3 sets of 5-8 repetition with 2 RIR (Reps in Reserve)

Hopefully what I have covered here about strength training for cyclists will be helpful as a starting point for a simple strength and conditioning program. As always, check in with your strength and conditioning focused allied health professional to determine if these recommendations are suitable for you.

The best advice I can give is, keep it simple and sustainable. The session need not be super long in duration – aim for 30-45 minutes to be done with your program. Over time, as you develop more experience and build up a repertoire of exercises you are familiar with, in each of the categories, you will be able to interchange exercises that are similar in each category to keep your work out fresh and engaging.

 

As with undertaking any new program or form of exercise, if you have any medical concerns, please check with your doctor. Or, should you need some tailored advice for strength training for cyclists – come see us here at PhysioTec.
Eric Huang is a qualified physiotherapist who specialises in cycling related pain and injuries. He has a passion for all things cycling, is a competitive cyclist himself, and runs his own cycling crew. Call 3342 4284 to book an appointment with Eric.

 

References:

Nicols JF, Palmer JE, Levy SS (2003) Low bone mineral density in highly trained male master cyclists. Osteoporos Int. 14:644-649

Rønnestad, B.R., Hansen, E.A. & Raastad, T. In-season strength maintenance training increases well-trained cyclists’ performance. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 110, 1269–1282 (2010)

Westcott, Wayne L. PhD. Resistance training is medicine: effects of strength training on health. Current Sports Medicine Reports: July/August 2012 – Volume 11 – Issue 4 – p 209-216

Louis, J., Hausswirth, C., Easthope, C. et al. Strength training improves cycling efficiency in master endurance athletes. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 112, 631–640 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-2013-1

 

Shall we dance? The health benefits of dancing at any age

Shall we dance? The health benefits of dancing at any age

Patients often ask me, “what is the best form of exercise?”. The answer I usually give is “The kind you enjoy”. My reasoning is, if you enjoy doing something then it is far more likely you will find the time to do it – an opinion supported by research1. So, if the gym isn’t your cup of tea, you don’t fancy a jog around the neighbourhood or it’s too cold for a swim – have you thought about dance as a form of exercise? Enjoyment is merely one reason to dance – once you hear about all the health benefits of dance, you’ll be shimmying back for more!

Dancing is great for fitness

Dance as exercise really is the allrounder when it comes to physical health benefits2. Studies show dance classes are as good for you, if not better, than other forms of structured exercise3. With so many types of dance available, you’re almost certain to find one you’ll enjoy. You can begin dancing at almost any age, so whether you’re 5 or 95, interested in ballet or belly-dancing, tap or tango, read on and see how dancing can help improve your health and wellness!

Cardiovascular improvement

Most of us know that physical activity and getting our heart pumping can help improve the function of our heart and lungs. The Australian government guidelines for exercise recommends adults participate in 2 ½ to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity (you can talk but not sing during the activity) or 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hour of vigorous activity (can’t say more than a few words without stopping for breath) each week4. A US intergenerational program showed both children and adults can reach their target heart rates through dance5. By incorporating ballet classes or line dancing lessons a couple of times a week and enjoying the petite allegro or Boot Scootin’ Boogie, you can gain the wonderful heart-pumping benefits that dancing can provide6.

Muscle strength and endurance

Ever admired the toned legs of a ballet dancer or the stamina of couples competing on dance tv shows? You too can enjoy strengthening your lower limbs and improve your endurance by attending regular dance classes.  Studies show that regardless of the type of dance, if you attend 3 hour-long classes a week, you’ll likely develop stronger legs and improved endurance in just 12 weeks7.

Balance and posture

Most everyday activity, such as walking, has us travelling in fairly straight lines without too much change in the level of our heads. Even when you’re at the gym – be it on a treadmill, stair climber or stationary bike – your movement is fairly limited. Dance on the other hand has us moving in all directions – forward, backward, sideways – often covering a lot of area. In addition to moving more in all directions, dancing often includes turns, jumps and sometimes even floor work.  When you’re performing that tango turn or jazz pirouette, you’ll be challenging your balance and dynamic postural control. This makes most forms of dancing ideal for improving our balance, and helping reduce the risk of falls, particularly as we age7,8,9.

Mobility and flexibility

We know that staying active and moving the joints is beneficial to joint health but there is some perception that dancing, particularly ballet, can lead to wear and tear on the hips.  This has not proven to be the case with an Australian study showing no difference in hip joint changes between professional ballet dancers and other athletes10. In fact, movement of the limbs during dance can help maintain flexibility, strengthen joint supporting muscles and keep the joints healthy9. Dance lessons have also been shown to help people with mobility issues, such as those with Parkinson’s disease. Recent research revealed regular dance classes improved the functional ability of people with Parkinson’s making it easier for them to move and get around11.

Dancing engages the brain and has “feel good” benefits

Not only do we see physical benefits in those who regularly participate in dance lessons, but dance can also give your brain a boost and improve your emotional wellbeing.

Memory and attention

If you’ve already attended a dance class, you’ll know how challenging remembering the combination of steps and movements can be. Perhaps you’ve also marvelled at more experienced classmates and their ability to pick up steps quickly or remember the choreography. Learning a dance sequence is like doing mental push-ups or a physical crossword for the brain, and the more you dance the better you’ll become. Challenging the brain to remember the steps and putting them all together in movement improves our “brain plasticity” and helps build our grey and white matter. In fact,  dancing improves our brains function much better than conventional exercise and can help stave off age-related mental impairments like poor memory and attention12.

Mental health and social connection

While those of us getting older will be especially keen on the mobility and memory benefits that dancing provides, there are also emotional benefits for people of all ages. Dancing can be a great way for adolescents (or people of any age) to deal with emotional distress.

A recent study found that teenage girls showed less nervousness, anxiety and and even reported less headaches and stomach aches while attending regular dance classes13.  Other studies have show similar benefits; A 12 week dance course lowered depression in a group of university students14 and a group of 60 – 82 year old’s reported improved social activities and networks through dance classes15. Regardless of dance style, people of all ages and cultural groups report a greater sense of happiness, social connectedness and life satisfaction through dance participation15.

Dance is great, whatever your age

Now that you know dancing can significantly improve balance, strength, endurance, mobility, memory and wellbeing, why not take a look to see what dance classes are available near you? Many dance schools offer classes for all ages including beginner classes for adults or those returning after a long hiatus. So grab a friend, sign up for a class and get moving!

(And if you’re isolating – there’s never been a better time to dance like nobody’s watching!)

Do you want to maximise the benefits you gain from dance, but not sure how to make the most of your dance moves?

Under the supervision of our experienced dance physios Jo and Rhianna, you will be professionally guided along the way, in a safe and effective manner.

Book Now
As with undertaking any new form of exercise, if you have any medical concerns, please check with your doctor. Or should you feel worried about a particular physical issue – unsure if you can boogie with a “bad knee” or practice ballet with a bunion – come see us here at PhysioTec. We’ll do a thorough assessment and provide you with some individualised exercises and advice in preparation to really enjoy and gain the most from your dance classes.

Joanne Manning is a qualified physiotherapist with a special interest in dance rehabilitation and injury prevention. Call 3342 4284 to book an appointment with Joanne.

 

References

1. Dishman, R. e. (2005). Enjoyment Mediates Effects of a School-Based Physical-Activity Intervention. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Volume 37 – Issue 3 – p 478-487 doi: 10.1249/01.MSS.0000155391.62733.A7.

2. Hwang PW, B. K. (2015). The Effectiveness of Dance Interventions to Improve Older Adults’ Health: A Systematic Literature Review. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 21(5):64-70.

3. Fong Yan, A. C. (2018). The Effectiveness of Dance Interventions on Physical Health Outcomes Compared to Other Forms of Physical Activity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, 48, 933–951.

4. Government, A. (2021, March 30). Factsheet: Adults 18-64. Retrieved from The Department of Health: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/fs-18-64 years

5. Schroeder K, R. S. (2017). Dance for Health: An Intergenerational Program to Increase Access to Physical Activity.  Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 37:29-34.

6. Gronek P, W. D. (2020 ). A Review of Exercise as Medicine in Cardiovascular Disease: Pathology and Mechanism. Ageing and Disease , Mar 9;11(2):327-340.

7. Rodrigues-Krause J, K. M.-O. (2019 ). Dancing for Healthy Aging: Functional and Metabolic Perspectives. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Jan;25(1):44-63.

8. Wallmann HW, G. C. (2008). The effect of a senior jazz dance class on static balance in healthy women over 50 years of age: a pilot study. Biological Research for Nursing, 10(3):257–266.

9. Joung HJ, L. Y. (2019). Effect of Creative Dance on Fitness, Functional Balance, and Mobility Control in the Elderly. Gerontology, 65(5):537-546.

10. Mayes S, F. A. (2016 ). Professional ballet dancers have a similar prevalence of articular cartilage defects compared to age- and sex-matched non-dancing athletes. Clinical Rheumatology, 35(12):3037-3043.

11. Carapellotti AM, S. R. ( 2020). The efficacy of dance for improving motor impairments, non-motor symptoms, and quality of life in Parkinson’s disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One, 15(8):e0236820.

12. Rehfeld K, L. A. (2018 ). Dance training is superior to repetitive physical exercise in inducing brain plasticity in the elderly. PLoS One, Jul 11;13(7).

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