BACK TO SCHOOL @ University of Texas @ Austin

This week I had the pleasure of serving as a guest teaching artist in the Department of Theater and Dance at UT Austin. Thank you so much to Andrea Beckham for bringing me in! I talked about injury prevention and common dance specific injuries. We spent the 2nd day doing a mini functional dance screen so the dancers could see how they measure up in terms of flexibility, strength, and balance. It allowed them to pinpoint some areas they need to work on in order to dance longer and stronger.

These freshmen students were amazing. They asked great questions and really seemed to be interested by the nutrition component of the lectures. I was also impressed by the handful of dancers who are aspiring physical therapists. Yay!

Have a great semester dancers! 

swan song

Sunday's performance of Swan Lake by Ballet Austin at the Long Center marked the end of the 2014-15 season. I am so utterly in awe of the commitment and talent right here in Austin. They are beautiful dancers inside and out. Most especially we will miss Michelle Thompson who is moving to NYC to start her next life adventure. We will miss you Michelle! Looking forward to a short summer break and a return to the studios in early August. 

once upon a time...

Last week I had the great privilege of working on the wonderful performers from the ONCE 1st National tour while they were performing at Bass Concert Hall on the University of Texas campus. All the cast and crew members were fantastic. They were only perplexed by our horrible traffic problems and lack of public transportation. Sorry, y'all!

nutcracker here we come...

   

 

 

Knee deep in preparations for Nutcracker at Ballet Austin. The costumes and dancers are gorgeous, now if only they can stay healthy for 3 weeks of performances. Common injuries include overworked calf muscles, back pain from prolonged holding of poses, and the regular slew of foot/ankle aches and pains that come with the territory of professional ballet.

Remy Charlip RIP

“It’s one of the hardest things to do – to be free enough to move around. Look at all those dancers – Isadora throwing away her corset, shoes and bra; Merce giving up stories and Graham going into whatever she calls it, that darkness of the inner soul; Nureyev leaping over the wall. Dancing is still about freedom”

RIP Remy Charlip

Modern dance in Austin

Before moving to NYC to work and study as a modern dancer I spent many years dancing in Houston and Austin. Now that I’m back in Austin almost 15 years later, I am so happy to see a thriving dance scene. And even happier to see that the best people to take a modern dance class with Austin are all still honing their craft and shaking things up. I have danced with most of these women and know them to be super amazing.

Love, love, love all these women!

Austin is a great place to be creative.

Check out the list composed by Claire Augustine here.

 

How massage heals sore muscles

We all know massage feels good. But here is some wonderful clinical research showing why massage might  be helpful in people with inflammatory conditions.

When visiting a physical therapist with an orthopedic injury you may be asked to do specific exercise that sometimes seems to push you past your limit. Similar to homeopathic medicine, by exposing the body to a noxious stimulus we hope to teach the body to come up with an appropriate response. In this case, inflammation in a particular area brings a flood of chemicals which leads to repair and adaptation as the physical therapist teaches new movement patterns. This in turn will prevent future injury. Massage can help suppress some of this inflammation associated with muscle loading and help speed recovery.

Basically massage can help the body adapt to the increased demands of exercise whether you are training for a marathon or recovering from an ankle sprain.

Yet another reason to visit your manual physical therapist!

You can read the article here.

 

Hip impingement surgery

This surgery has become super popular in NYC. Maybe too popular? In fact, I would say about 50% of my patient population had either the diagnosis of hip impingement OR were post surgical. It’s kind of the hot new thing. But, it was also very common among the dancers whom I was treating extensively.

Anyway, I truly believe in non-surgical, natural, hands on healing. And if one must resort to surgery then it is of the utmost importance to have a skilled physical therapist address the functional limitations that remain after the hip has been “cleaned up” by the surgeon. My colleague and I gave a lecture on this particular topic at NYU Langone Medical Center in NYC a few months ago and we were really surprised to find that there is no cohesive protocol out there delineating how to rehabilitate these patients. So, we designed one ourselves.

Perhaps most importantly, yoga can be used to help prevent and rehabilitate this injury. Certain poses should not be done at all and other poses can be modified to be extremely helpful. It is all pretty cool!

Have not yet seen any post surgical hip impingement or labral repair patients here in Austin.

Maybe that’s a good thing…

Here’s the article.

Dancers are genetically different from everyone else

finally some validation!

a fascinating scientific study that has actually found genetic variants present in dancers. these chromosomal changes suggest that dancers have a heightened sense of communication of a symbolic and ceremonial nature AND a strong spiritual personality trait.

i was talking with some other dancers about this and we were all pretty excited. 1st of all, we know we are kind of a goofy group so it’s nice to be recognized. but more importantly, it’s an interesting study because dancers have always seemed able to seek out other dancers in the world.  we need each other. and this presupposes some sort of genetic basis for that instinct.

it’s a unique tribe that i am proud to be a part of.

dancers are genetically different from the rest of us

Every hour of sitting takes 21.8 minutes off your life

okay that’s maybe an over simplification. but, scary nonetheless!

according to this study the average adult spends 50%-70% of their time sitting. and even those who exercise on a regular basis saw the benefits of exercise mitigated by increased daily sitting.

WHY?

with increased sitting comes decreased lower extremity muscle contraction. when muscles don’t contract they require less fuel and the surplus, in the form of blood sugar, can contribute to obesity, diabetes, and other health concerns. not to mention, that increased sitting is a huge contributor to low back pain.

get up. get out. don’t sit.

see a physical therapist, take a yoga or dance class, or just get up!

 

Relax and be more productive

a fantastic article from the New York Times

relax, you’ll be more productive

time and energy are in constant conflict. time is a finite resource while energy can be restored through rest. so, appropriate rest and renewal periods can stoke our energy to allow us to be more productive with our time.

90 min of focus seems to be the norm for productive work.

wonder if it’s a coincidence that most dance and yoga classes are exactly 90 min long?