I was very happy this month to have teamed up with the Northern Ballet company to provide post show sports massage treatment for one of their principle performers, Javier Torres, after his performance in ‘The Little Mermaid’ at the Nottingham Theatre Royal.
These tours come thick and fast, with numerous performances per day. The demand on the performers is great, so much so that they have numerous performers cast for each principle role. This allows them to rotate the cast to give the individual performers time to recover between shows and not overload themselves.
Just in the same way that sportsmen utilise soft tissue therapy and sports massage to aid their recovery and prevent injury, stage performers undergo just as much physical stress and as such require the same level of work behind the scenes to keep them fit and able to perform to their peak levels.
“A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research took a look at classical ballet from the perspective of it being a sport. They selected previously published research and examined professional ballet dancers along a series of fitness parameters:
Aerobic capacity – Professional dancers were found to have lower demands on the heart than non-professional level dancers, perhaps due to physical adaptation from the volume and years of training.
Muscular power and endurance – Ballet dancers demonstrate higher vertical jumps than the average population and also a greater adaptation to long periods of demand on their muscles.
Muscular strength – While dancers demonstrate greater strength in their hips than other populations, they are generally wary of strength training due to the aesthetic demands of ballet.
Anthropometry – To meet the aesthetic requirements of ballet, dancers frequently keep their caloric intake very low possibly predisposing them to bone density problems and injuries.
Flexibility – Dancers, on average, display a much higher capability than average.
Agility – Not much information on dancers and agility could be found by the study, but dance training was found to increase agility in athletes in other sports.
In conclusion, the study found classical ballet could be compared with other high-intensity interval training, but unlike athletes in sports, ballet dancers are not always physically prepared for the demands put on their bodies.” (ref:breakingmuscle.com)
On a personal level, I thoroughly enjoy working with a wide range of populations. It allows me to observe different movement patterns and the effect that this has on the musculature of the body. Each sport, dance, occupation and so on, places different physical demands on the body and I find it fascinating to see how the body adapts to these demands!
When working with professional footballs at Nottingham Forest I learned very quickly the areas that commonly caused players problems. With that, I also identified the best way to apply therapy to alleviate these issues. This is the same for the large number of runners that I regular treat. Now, as I begin to see more and more dancers, I am starting to recognise similar patterns and I can begin to adapt my treatment process to optimise results.
I hope to continue to work with members of the Northern Ballet company when they are in town!