ACL injuries are often talked about in contact sports, but ballet dancers are also at risk of a tear. Jumping is the most common mechanism of injury for a ballet dancer to tear their ACL. Max Dawe, of the Joffrey Ballet, learned this firsthand last summer. I had the pleasure of being Max’s Physical Therapist in the later stages of his rehab while Alyssa Hartley, PT, DPT, OCS worked with him during the first eight months. Recovering from an ACL reconstruction is a long and intense process focused on regaining strength, range of motion, neuromuscular control, and progression of agility and plyometrics tailored to specific sport demands. The general recommended timeline to return to sport is at least nine months due to the high risk of re-injury returning at the previously thought six months. I interviewed Max asking about his recovery process, and we are happy to share his experiences.
Co-authors: Katie Warner PT, DPT, OCS and Evan Boersma of The Joffrey Ballet
December is a magical time of year in Chicago, with plenty of festive things to do to enjoy the winter holiday season. The Joffrey Ballet puts on an impressive run of The Nutcracker this year, featuring 25 full-length performances from December 3rd to the 27th. There are additionally two abbreviated performances for local schools. “Joffrey’s beloved version of The Nutcracker takes inspiration from the 1893 World’s Fair, one of the city’s great historical attractions of the late 19th century.” Athletico is proud to be the Official Provider of Physical Therapy for The Joffrey Ballet. In anticipation of this season’s production, we wanted to spotlight the preparation that goes into it from the perspective of company dancer Evan Boersma and myself, one of the physical therapists.
After almost six months of being away from The Joffrey Ballet and all of the dancers, there was finally a plan in which I can return onsite in my role as a Performing Arts Physical Therapist to safely provide care to them. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about returning. This day almost reminded me of first-day-of-school jitters. Our jobs are already high stakes and high pressure, but now a deadly virus has been added to the mix. We must be careful and mindful in everything we do that could risk our own or our dancers’ health. So before I get into how the return to studio unfolded, let me back up and explain the many months of preparation that went into this possibility turned reality of going back to help The Joffrey Ballet.