Stress management and finding alternative treatments: an undergraduate dancer’s perspective.

Undergraduate Contemporary Dance Student Bethan Cooper is in her final year at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and has been doing work experience across both the Health and Dance Science departments. As part of her time with us she has written a blog piece focusing on stress management and the use of alternative treatments. You can read her thoughts below:

Stress management and finding alternative treatments

So what are the common causes and effects of stress on the dancer? With Independent Project season coming to a close and Commissioned Works, Historical Project and Performance Project fast approaching it’s a demanding time for dance students. What can you do to keep your body healthy (and injury free) so that you can get the most out of it?We know the basics:

  • Eating well
  • Staying hydrated
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Effective warm ups and cool downs…

But sometimes bodies can become overwhelmed by sudden changes in practice, so it is important to notice any aches, niggles or complaints before they become bigger problems.

Have you ever noticed an awkward “jump” in your movement whilst executing slow or fluid material? The body is very good at managing itself and finding solutions to problems, and will continue to compensate in many amazing ways until these problems become more substantial. In order to prevent injury, it can be valuable to seek treatments that will contribute to your overall wellness.

It is important to find the right treatment for you, be it physiotherapy, acupuncture or maybe a super intense sports massage! However, occasionally a non-invasive approach will be beneficial.

Why choose Craniosacral Therapy?

Craniosacral treatment is a more holistic approach, where practitioners use light touch, encouraging the body to heal itself. Clients can enjoy a gentle and relaxing hour where the body can take its time to absorb and realise small changes. The treatment aims to work not only with the body, but with the person as a whole, and so has psychological benefits too! This attention to the person as a whole can help address injuries, but also underlying issues behind the injury.

Practitioners work with the fluids and fascia in the body (the connective tissue that holds us together). A particularly important line of fascia for dancers is The Deep Front Line – a long line of tissue connecting the toes to the tongue (and linking muscles such as the psoas and diaphragm along the way).

AnatomyTrains

http://danceproject.ca/dancers-and-the-deep-front-line/#.WTVn0ZLyvcs

There are also links between Craniosacral Therapy and many of the somatic approaches used in dance – practices such as Alexander Technique or Feldenkrais, which can all be relevant and supportive to your release-based training!

TL practitioners

Marina Collard uses her years of knowledge and experience of dance to inform her practice, making her the ideal practitioner for us dancers! She believes the treatment encourages clients to find a heightened sense of awareness in themselves and their bodies. This kind of physical enquiry can support dancers in optimising the body they have, keeping it open and available for movement. The treatment can also aid stress management; allowing clients time to slow down, inhabit their bodies and reach a more embodied state.

If you would like to know any more about Craniosacral Therapy treatment or have any other queries please contact the health department via the Trinity Laban website www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/health or email health@trinitylaban.ac.uk .

Bethan Cooper

BA3 Contemporary Dance Student, Trinity Laban

 

Happy New Year, Healthful Hints for 2017!

Here we are again, the start of another brand new year, time for turning over a new leaf, resolutions and planning the year ahead, bring on 2017!

At Trinity Laban Health we want to make sure performing artists are supported in their training and professional careers, and what better time for us to give you a few hints and tips to help you get off to good start this new year.

Supplementary Training, make it more than a resolution…

Supplementary training can benefit you as a performing artist and help to enhance your performance in a variety of ways. Whether you are new to training outside of your performance art, or whether you are getting back into training after a well-earned Christmas break, you should consider asking yourself which areas of your performance you would like to improve or support, for example do you want to boost your cardiovascular fitness to support playing a wind instrument? Or perhaps you want to work on lower limb endurance ahead of an upcoming dance performance. Whatever your new year goals may be, we have facilities which could help you towards achieving them.

As a student of Trinity Laban you would have access to our Conditioning Studio and FREE classes such as Yoga, Pilates and Strength & Conditioning, which could help support your training and help you stick to those supplementary training resolutions.

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Look after your performing body…

Being a performing artist can mean that there are certain demands placed upon your body which may increase risk of injury. At Trinity Laban Health we have a variety of treatments which can not only help you if you do become injured, but can also aid in the prevention of injury. Tell me more I hear you say! So what treatments do we have to offer? Well firstly, all of our therapists/practitioners share a particular interest in performing artists’ health. They are highly skilled and experienced when it comes to working with those in the field of dance, music and musical theatre. Our treatments include Physiotherapy, Sports massage, Acupuncture, Acupressure massage, Craniosacral, Feldenkrais, Reflexology (look out for future blog posts for a more in depth discussion of the therapies and practitioners). There is a treatment to suit all aches, niggles and pains and treatments for example, Sports massage can be a good way to help prevent injury.

Along with all of your other 2017 resolutions we also hope you plan to look after your overall well-being by ensuring you get enough rest and sleep – giving your body time to unwind and relax can really go a long way to help make sure you are optimising your performance. Nutrition, including hydration is also incredibly important, once a term here at Trinity Laban Health we have Nutritionist Jasmine Challis, who runs a clinic and specialises in performing artists’ diets. Ensuring your food and fluid intake is supporting your activity level is essential to maintain a healthy you!

If you would like to know any more about our Conditioning studio, treatments or for any other queries please contact the health department via the Trinity Laban website www.trinitylaban.ac.uk/health or email us health@trinitylaban.ac.uk . We look forward to hearing from you and wish you a very happy and healthy 2017!

Felicity Beach

Graduate Intern Health

The Benefits of Supplementary Training for Dancers

The dance class has been shown to be fairly ‘stop start’ or intermittent in nature and as a result dancers’ cardiovascular training needs may not be simply met by participating in class or rehearsal. Furthermore, dancers face increasing demands from choreographers, pushing their bodies to the limits in terms of technique, skill and versatility. For this reason it is important  for dancers to consider taking up additional fitness training, and to ask important questions regarding the type of extra training their individual body needs. A good place to start might be to identify areas that require improvement or strengthening. Screening for example is one way you can identify areas that require focus; whether this be in relation to cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, muscular endurance, strength or power. Although the dance class may innately contribute to improvements in certain aspects of fitness (i.e. flexibility, agility, muscular endurance), depending on the individual dancer’s body some of these aspects may need to be addressed outside of the classroom in their own time.  Importantly, a typical dance class does not share the same focus on cardiovascular intensity, nor does it necessarily incorporate training principles such as overload. Overload is needed in order for physiological adaptions to occur and therefore the dance class alone may not facilitate such changes. Additional training has other benefits too. We know that fatigue increases the risk of sustaining an injury in dance, and as increased fitness may help to delay the onset of fatigue it could in turn help to reduce this risk.

jk_photography

Photo: jk_photography

So what form of extra training should you do? The most important answer to this question is it should be tailored to your own specific needs; there is no magic formula or generic plan and previous injury, illness and current workload should be considered. To get you thinking about additional training methods and to also dispel some common myths, we have put the spotlight on just a few types of supplementary training.

Pilates

Pilates

Photo: jk_photography

Since the 1920’s dancers have subjectively reported the benefits of engaging in the Pilates method alongside their dance training. In recent years scientific research has also started to evidence these benefits. Studies have shown that Pilates can help to improve alignment, flexibility and muscular strength in dancers, and due to its focus on fluid and controlled movements it is often a natural choice for dancers. More hypermobile or flexible dancers might wish to choose Pilates-based exercise in order to encourage greater strength and control.

Yoga

There is little scientific research to support the benefits of yoga in dance specifically, however dancers do tend to naturally choose yoga as a form of supplementary training. An unpublished study reported improvements in hip flexion range of motion after a four week intervention and suggested that yoga can offer additional educational benefits. Dancers who are naturally less flexible may benefit from practicing yoga due to its focus on dynamic stretching. Previous or existing injuries should be considered before attending class.

Aerobic and endurance training

It is important for dancers to have good aerobic power to enable them to dance for longer and at lower heart rates before becoming fatigued. Although the dance class can contribute to improvements in aerobic power, due to the intermittent nature of class, additional cardiovascular training such as running or swimming can be useful. Running is a cheap and effective way of training aerobically but if you are recovering from an injury and want to avoid loaded weight bearing activities, swimming is a great alternative.

Plyometric training

It is important for dancers to have power in their legs for both jumping and travelling sequences. Plyometric or jump training aims to increase power (speed and strength) by incorporating exercises in which the muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time. One study found that such training did improve subjective measures of dancer’s jumping including height, ability to point feet and overall jump ability as assessed by experienced dance faculty members. Again, it is important to consider injury history and workload before engaging in plyometric training. Some dancers are concerned that working on strength in this way may lead to developing ‘bulky muscles’ and compromising aesthetic quality. There is little evidence to support this idea, and the pros of plyometric training seem to outweigh the potential cons.

feldenkrais

Photo: jk_photography

A more somatic approach

Although somatic techniques do not immediately spring to mind when considering supplementary training, practices such as the Feldenkrais Method which aim to increase kinaesthetic self- awareness through movement (without placing extreme stress on the body) can be helpful during busy work periods. Practices such as the Feldenkrais Method can also be of benefit to individuals troubled with stress and anxiety.

*The extra stress placed on the body through supplementary training can cause temporary fatigue. You should aim to leave at least two weeks between end of training and any scheduled performance periods.

Amelia Wilkinson, Dance Science Graduate Intern & Administrative Intern for Health

For more information take a look at these resources.

Beck, S., Redding, E., & Wyon, M. A. (2015). Methodological considerations for documenting the energy demand of dance activity: a review. Frontiers in psychology, 6.

Kefallonitou, M, M., (2014). The effects of Yin Yoga practice on dancers’ range of joint motion : a biomechanical and perceptual investigation (Unpublished thesis). Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, London.

McKinnon, M., & Etlin-Stein, H. (2015, November 09) Pilates: A natural choice for dancers [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.iadms.org/blogpost/1177934/231658/Pilates-A-natural-choice-for-dancers.

Rafferty, S. (2010). Considerations for integrating fitness into dance training.Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, 14(2), 45-49.

Useful web resources:

https://www.danceuk.org/healthier-dancer-programme/health-faqs/fitness-and-strength/

http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iadms.org/resource/resmgr/Public/Bull_4-1_pp15-17_Kozai.pdf

 

Trinity Laban Health Induction Activities 2015

On Monday the 7th September, we embarked on what tend to be the busiest few weeks of the academic calendar, induction. The Trinity Laban Health department forms part of the student services team and as such, we look forward to welcoming new students from across the globe as they begin their training at Trinity Laban. We know that dance related injury incidence is high the UK and therefore it is likely that at some point throughout training, dance, and or musical theatre students may need to seek advice or support from a member of the TL Health team. Whether this be in the form of treatment, a rehabilitation programme guided by one of our physiotherapists or to simply pop down for a quick chat our door is always open. The department does not only seek to support dance students however; musicians can experience physical problems too. Instrumentalists and vocalists like all performing artists often have to perform to the limit, with intense practice schedules and late night performances. As a result, the risk of acquiring injuries that can lead to difficulties or an inability to play or sing can increase. At Trinity Laban Health we seek to help prevent injuries through educating and empowering students and to support students in the management and rehabilitation of existing injuries. This year we put on a number of events in order to personally meet as many new students as possible and to highlight the support services, treatments and workshops on offer. Here’s a quick look at what we go up to.

Physiotherapist Tania Amorim discusses some safe stretching techniques to a busy studio of new BA Contemporary Dance Students.

Physiotherapist Tania Amorim discusses some safe stretching techniques with a busy studio of new BA Contemporary Dance Students.

Our first ‘Healthy Performing Artist’ session for new BA Contemporary Dance students attracted nearly a hundred students. In the session we provided an overview of the Dance Science and Health Musculoskeletal and Fitness Screen. This service allows students access to information about their own physical capabilities and can help to identify potential injury risk. It can help inform and empower to students to know more about their own bodies as they embark on their training. In line with this idea, Trinity Laban Health Physiotherapist Tania Amorim provided some safe and effective warm-up, cool down tips along with some practical ideas for safe stretching techniques.

Physiotherapist Isabel Artigues Cano discusses the theory behind important warm-up principles for musicians.

Physiotherapist Isabel Artigues Cano discusses the theory behind important warm-up principles for musicians.

The second in our series of Healthy Performing Artist talks was delivered by Physiotherapist Isabel Artigues Cano to new Music students. Musicians’ attendance rates were the highest we have seen in recent years and it was great to meet so many of the new cohorts personally at this session. Isabel discussed the signs and symptoms of common injuries for both instrumentalists and vocalists and provided invaluable warm-up, cool down and injury prevention tips.

Aside from our presentations, our stall remained on the ramp in the Laban building for the duration of the two week long induction. This was another opportunity for us  to meet as many new students as possible as well as greet some familiar returning faces. Our brand new survival kits for both musicians and dancers were also available for purchase here and included spiky balls, resistance bands, foot rollers among other items.

Physiotherapist Katy Chambers demonstrating a calf muscle release exercise with spikey balls that were available in our survival kits.

Physiotherapist Katy Chambers demonstrating a calf muscle release exercise with spiky balls available in our survival kits.

We also had the chance to get to know a number of new graduate school and BA Musical Theatre Performance (BAMTP) students. Physiotherapist Katy Chambers, provided some alternative warm-up ideas, using Yoga techniques for BAMTP students. This was followed by a muscular release based session with the aim of using these techniques to help prevent injuries. Our postgraduates engaged in a discussion around safe dance practice from the perspective of both dancer and choreographer with Edel Quin Programme Leader of the MSc Dance Science.

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Finally to round off a very busy two weeks, a few members of the team attended the international student event. The British style picnic with outdoor games and entertainment was the perfect way to end the induction period. This was another fantastic opportunity to get to know new students and we hope this continues over the coming weeks.

The Trinity Laban Health Team