• Be fully prepared and safe in progressing to pointe work
  • Exercise prescription to improve technique and class work
  • Treatment and rehabilitation of dance related injury
  • Dance specific injury prevention
Lisa Ward
Lisa WardPhysiotherapist, Pilates Instructor

Dance Physiotherapy

As a child, I loved to dance. From the age of three my mum had me in dance classes multiple times per week. I learnt Ballroom Dancing (Modern, New Vogue, Old Time & Latin), competing on an national and international level, and then later than most girls, learnt Ballet (RAD), Jazz, Tap, Lyrical and Contemporary. It took me to Disneyland, to Japan in a semi-professional Ballet Company and the biggest stage of all, the Olympic Opening Ceremony.

But deciding what to do at the end of school, had me doubting a career in dance. What if I got injured? I had only little injuries here and there, which at the time restricted what I could do. I had seen both Physiotherapists and Chiropractors to treat and minimise this, but they were enough to affect my decision to study Physiotherapy rather than dance full-time.

As much as it could be, I was proved to be right. I learnt much about my own body through studying physiotherapy and pilates, in training and mentoring in a large Sydney practice which specialised in dancers and continued classes at the Sydney Dance Company. I am convinced that with the weaknesses and instabilities I discovered in myself, I would have incurred injuries had I danced full-time.

There has since been much research and development into dance medicine and science including the development of screening assessments. These assessments identify areas which predispose dancers to acute and chronic injuries. I have since undertaken further study in this area and research, have had further training in the teaching of dance from dancers who have been taught by international greats such as Rosella Hightower, and more recently with teachers from the Australian Ballet School and medical staff from the Australian Ballet. And yes I continue classes for myself and correcting my own weaknesses (around work and 2 young children 🙂 ).

As our practice strives to help people ‘live their whole life better’ I hope to bring the area of dance physiotherapy to dancers of Port Stephens. I want dancers to have the opportunity to train and progress in dance to the best of their potential. I want them to love dancing without hinderance from injuries easily avoided with good assessment and intervention.

Dance Assessment Types

We offer two different types of assessments: a general dance assessment and a specific pre-pointe assessment, for those progressing to pointe.

Comprehensive Dance Assessments

These are applicable for anyone at any age and are more comprehensive than the Pre-Pointe Assessment. As well as the physical assessment (eg foot control, turn out, strength, flexibility), the assessment will cover all aspects of dance training and wellness.

Pre-Pointe Assessments

The progression to pointe is quite often an exciting time, but I once heard a quote, “what is the point of going up on pointe if you can’t do anything once you are there”. Very true. Dancing on pointe requires more than just strong feet and ankles, there are many other areas which need to be considered to ensure a safe and successful transition to dancing on pointe.

Just an Assessment?

Following the assessment, a report/letter will be written for you and your dance teacher complete with recommendations, and a second consultation to discuss the results. Recommendations could include a home exercise program or exercises to complete prior to or during class, the prescription of aids or taping, further physiotherapy treatment or supervised exercise sessions. This will be unique to the dancer and the results of their assessment.

What makes Dance Physiotherapy Unique to other areas of Physiotherapy?

Dance in itself is a unique area. You need the strength, stability and endurance of an athlete, quite often the extreme flexibility of a gymnast, but also as an art form, the ability to act and communicate story and emotions through the body, which often results in unique movements. Therefore, the way one approaches rehabilitation for someone of the general population or even an athlete can look quite different for a dancer due to the extremes required to perform well.

Call 02 4981 3461 for an appointment

THESE APPOINTMENTS ARE LIMITED, SO DON’T LEAVE IT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO BOOK.