Is your goal to learn the splits?
Beyond just improving flexibility, this skill can be useful for athletes in a variety of sports – from gymnasts and cheerleaders to hockey goalies. However, learning to safely perform this movement takes a lot of practice and consistency. See below for recommended stretches and some evidence-based tips for improving your flexibility and achieving this goal.
A lot of athleticism is required to be a professional dancer. In every genre of dance, the goal is to maintain movement with grace and composure while on stage, never breaking performance. But the audience does not see the pain, grit and rehab behind the scenes, especially when a dancer sustains an injury.
While dancers are known for their flexibility, they are not immune to overworked muscles, which can lead to increased muscle tightness. Because dancers are often very flexible, sometimes it’s easy to bypass the stretch to the muscle through hypermobile joints. Here are some tips and tricks to help dancers’ stretch commonly tight muscles.
As an Athletico physical therapist, I have been supporting The Joffrey Ballet for more than five years. I usually work with the dancers while they are rehearsing and performing in Chicago, where my job is to triage, evaluate and treat issues that may arise from their rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule. Recently, my career with The Joffrey Ballet took me beyond Chicago, when I traveled with the company to three different cities across the country. We started in snowy, cold Minneapolis for two performances of a full length ballet called Anna Karenina, then off to Santa Barbara for two mixed repertory shows, and finished with one final performance in San Diego.
Gymnastics is a sport with large demands on the upper body. Male gymnasts especially rely on the strength and stabilization of the upper body for many of their events such as rings, pommel horse, vault, high bar, parallel bar and floor. Research has shown that a gymnast can experience up to 16 times their body weight through their arms during gymnastics events.1 Injuries are often seen at the shoulders in the male gymnast. In addition to overall shoulder strength, male gymnasts need shoulder stability to perform their sport.
Dancers are often known for the beautiful lines and shapes they can achieve with their bodies. They are able to spin on the tips of their toes and jump high into the air, landing ever so gracefully on their feet. Due to the demands of the sport, it is not a surprise that foot and ankle injuries account for more than half of the injuries sustained by pre-professional and professional ballet dancers.1 Read below to learn about some of the most common foot and ankle injuries that impact dancers.
Male gymnasts encounter different stresses on their joints compared to their female counterparts due to differences in the events they compete. In men’s gymnastics, there are multiple events that place stress across the joints of the arm including the rings, high bar, parallel bars and pommel horse.
Aaron Renteria, Joffrey Ballet Company Dancer
Athletico is proud to be the Official Provider of Physical Therapy for The Joffrey Ballet for over 20 years. Through this partnership, our physical therapists are onsite throughout rehearsals and performances, including the busy Nutcracker season, in order to keep dancers healthy and performing to the best of their ability.