Phasing Back to Dance
Written by Dr. Meagan K. Robichaud, PT, DPT
As the world starts to slowly open back up for business, we are starting to see many
dancers return to their normal schedules in the studio, resuming classes and some even
beginning late summer intensives. While this change is so exciting and exactly what many
dancers have been anxiously awaiting for months…this is also a great time to pump the brakes and consider what you need to do to safely return to dance.
While many dancers have been taking classes through platforms such as zoom, the level
and intensity of rehearsal in a studio can be very different from in home dancing. The last thing a dancer wants on top of what is already going on, is an injury due to an abrupt and quick return to studio dancing. So how can this be avoided? The first important step is to be honest with yourself about how you have been dancing at home. Ask yourself questions such as:
What technique have I had to modify due to limitations such as flooring or space?
Have I been jumping full out?
Have I been marking more than I normally would?
What surface have I been dancing on and what footwear have I been using? For example, a harder, less forgiving surface such as concrete or wood can drastically change the stress put through your shins and alter the result in return.
Once you have established these baselines, safe return to dance can be
explained in a series of phases described below.
Phase 1: (weeks 1 and 2)
This phase is the time to focus on prior technique, avoiding learning any new skills.
Jumping should also be avoided during this stage. Regardless of if the dancer has been jumping at home, returning to a sprung Marley floor will change the level of shock that is transferred through the feet and without a proper gradual transition, this can cause injury.
Phase 2: (weeks 3 and 4)
This phase is all about building your strength and endurance back up by completing
multiple repetitions of skills. Still avoiding any new skills here, focus on prior skill acquisition
with the introduction of double leg jumps and petite allegro into the repertoire.
Phase 3: (weeks 5 and 6)
During this phase, the dancer may begin to feel like themselves again and it is now safe
to begin decreasing periods of rest and ramping up the intensity of rehearsals to further build the strength and endurance needed for more extensive choreographic repertoire. This is a time to begin incorporating single leg jumps as well.
Phase 4: (weeks 7-12)
By this phase, the dancer should feel comfortable returning to full training schedules
and all classes in the studio with the introduction of grande allegro into the repertoire. This is a good time to finalize previous learned technique and make the final push to returning to prior level of dancing pre-quarantine! The dancer should continue to hold off on learning new skills.
Phase 5: (weeks 12+)
The final phase, you made it! This phase is all about maintaining the progress you have
already made in safe return to dance, while introducing new skills and more difficult repertoire.
At this point, you should feel confident that you have returned to your skill level pre-
quarantine. Although your body may be feeling like itself again, this is not the time to get lazy as it is important to continue with the program you have established to make further gains in strength and endurance leading into the fall!
If you, like many others, are feeling like you have put your health on the back burner
during these times, sustaining an injury or just feeling deconditioned, call Magna Physical
Therapy to schedule an appointment with our dance medicine specialists for a personalized
program to return to dance! We are here to help you and would be happy to discuss any and all of your concerns.