The Importance of Dancer Screening

JM and AW treadmill test

Dancer screening is not a new concept, almost all dance companies now have a working relationship with a specialist dance physiotherapist and/or orthopaedic surgeon. But why is screening so important for dancers, dance specific healthcare practitioners and dance scientists?

The ability to dance well and to dance safely is influenced by a number of physiological, biomechanical and psychological factors. Screening is one method of collecting information about individual dancers, in order to identify whether they possess the attributes necessary to participate safely in training and whether risk factors that predispose them to clinical or medical problems can be identified, and result in effective prevention programmes.

From a wider research perspective, screening of dancers is also necessary to establish norms for various factors such as; body alignment and relevant anatomic deviations, range of motion and muscular strength at key joints, body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness and aspects of neuromuscular coordination. Using data collected through screening we can begin to identify what is “normal” at what age and for what gender in order to comment upon whether this is usual, and whether the prognosis for improvement is good or poor. Ultimately, this idea feeds back to and benefits the individual dancer. Once normative values have been established, the even more important questions of what significance they and their deviations have for injury rehabilitation, and performance can be addressed.

Three key aims of screening programmes:

  1. To detect risk factors at an early stage in order to prevent injuries.
  2. To learn the physical characteristics of dancers so that it can be used as a baseline for comparison when injuries occur.
  3. To establish individual baseline data in order to set educational and training or rehabilitative goals.

With developments in technology, both dancers and dance researchers can now utilise online resources such as, the Dancer Wellness Project which provide useful technological infrastructures to facilitate and bring together the expansive projects and screening data of participating companies, universities and organisations

The Dance Science and Health teams at Trinity Laban offer a number of Health and Fitness Screening days throughout the year. Please email to find out more information and join our mailing list.

Amelia Wilkinson

Health Administrative Intern and Dance Science Graduate Intern

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