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Injury Prevention And Safe Practice In Dance And Theatre Performers

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Injury prevention and Safe practice are two vital instruments dancers and musical theatre performers should prioritise in their daily lives as they have direct benefits to the longevity of a dancers career, without these two tools their careers could end before they reach their 30’s or even mid 20’s.

Injury prevention has two essential categories: internal and external. Internal injury prevention focuses on injuries generated because of risk factors such as, lack of technical knowledge, fatigue, lack of sleep, rest, poor nutrition and weak muscles and bones. On the contrary, external injury prevention concentrates on the risk factors involving your environment such as: temperature, flooring e.g is it suitable flooring, clean, does it have slippery or hazardous debris; suitable clothing, the dancer’s spacial awareness and suitable footwear; the choreography being performed can also link to this. Safe practice is linked to activities that help prevent external and internal injuries from happening, these include: warmups/cooldowns, stretching, alignment, supporting injuries and body maintenance.

Learning how to properly perform a piece of movement is beneficial to the length of a dancer’s and musical theatre performers career as knowing the technique behind a particular movement such as, a jump is necessary in preventing an internal injury like a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and damage to the feet and back. A health and fitness Article on ‘Why Should You Bend Your Knees When You Hit the Ground After a Jump?’ states that ‘When you land following a jump, your knees are at risk for injury because a great deal of force is placed on your bones, muscles and joints’(Ipatenco, n.d.). This is why in styles of dance like ballet you are taught plies from very early stages so that the technique is instilled in the dancer and becomes the norm also known as muscle memory; this is a focus for ballet teachers to teach their students as it is the technical way to land a jump. There are many other internal risk factors that are the main concerns for performers, these concerns can also occur whilst performing a jump. For example, muscle fatigue as a result of lack of sleep can also lead to injuries when jumping as the muscle can not meet the demands of the activity. Not getting enough sleep and rest can be detrimental to a performer’s career as it deprives the body of the energy it needs to perform task thus, causing muscle fatigue, in addition to this lack of sleep makes it harder for us to store new memories as a part of the brain called the hippocampus is activated significantly less and this is responsible for storing long term memories. When we are asleep the hippocampus operates subsequently faster in storing memories, when we are sleep deprived this process has either not happened or has not happened efficiently resulting in the inability to store newer memories as the hippocampus is essentially full. The storing of memories are major in preventing internal injury as it reminds you of how you shouldn’t and should perform a movement, meaning the storing of memories are fundamental in reducing the risk of injury to a dancer. A newly published article (Himmer et al.,2019) performed a study on a number of participants focusing on the role of sleep in system consolidation, resulting in them finding that sleep deprivation has direct correlation to storing and retaining memories using the hippocampus and that it lost its relevance in which another part of the brain known as the posterior parietal cortex took over,“participants learned lists of German words through seven learning-recall repetitions. After a 12 hour interval, during which they either stayed awake or were allowed to sleep for 8 hours…hippocampus losing relevance and the PPC [the posterior parietal cortex] gaining in equal measure”. Furthermore, another crucial element dancers and musical theatre performers must focus on to prevent internal injury is their bones and muscles, correct nutrition and strengthening of muscle will be useful in averting an internal injury. Nutrients like vitamin C, D, and B12 are imperative in avoiding injury, vitamin C helps maintain bone and healthy skin, vitamin D is another one of the main nutrients that are needed to preserve bones and muscle health, lastly vitamin B12 is involved in ensuring the nervous system and red blood cells remain fully healthy also. These nutrients are indispensable as the force and pressure being put on your muscles and bones could be tremendously more damaging if they aren’t taken care of. Iron is another nutrient that is responsible for making red blood cells; a lack of iron could lead to iron deficiency anemia which is very harmful to a dancer as a symptoms of this include lack of energy and shortness of breath. Eating good sources of food containing these nutrients will be favourable to the dancer and musical theatre performer; having said nutrients on a daily basis will help strengthen your bones and muscles which will in turn be beneficial in preventing the likelihood of an injury due to poor nutrition. Although these foods are in charge of giving us the necessary nutrients they also contain proteins needed in repairing lean muscle in the body. Statistics from a website about “Healthy Diet For Dancers” states that “Without adequate protein levels to fuel muscles, a dancers body would not have the strength to perform…As much as 12% to 15% of a dancer’s overall diet should consist of lean proteins found in meat and poultry”(Bryant, n.d.) this shows the proteins are essential to a dancers dietary needs as they help make certain the process of repairing muscle tissue is inevitable. For these reasons I believe dancers should be methodical in making sure they are taking mandatory steps to prevent any internal injuries and elongate the performer’s career..

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Making sure the external injury risk factors are kept to a minimum should be prioritised by performers as this will safeguard dancers and musical theatre performers as, these components usually lead to external injuries for example, bruises, cuts, blisters and lacerations. Reducing the debris can stop external injuries from happening, making sure the floor is swept after ever class acquire this goal as performers that may have been using the space prior most likely are to drop items and have may have outside waste on their shoe namely glass, and other sharp and damaging things. This could possibly lengthen the dancers career as no harm should come to performers as a consequence of debris on the floor. Equally removing any accessories that could cause bodily harm to yourself or another person, or any attachments that could fall off or out. This includes earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings. To add the temperature of the room and layers of clothing are significant and should always be a focus of the performer as your core temperature in dance should always be between 65 and 67 degrees to keep the muscles warm to prevent pulling a muscle as stated in the online article ‘Choosing The Right Temperature for your Studio’ (Shoup, n.d.) This is because when the muscles are cold they are harder to stretch in contrast to your muscles being warm. During a class dancers and performers should try to remove layers of their clothing in order to regulate the core temperature. To conclude, I am convinced that external injury risk factors should be focused on as this can prevent injury and lengthen the performer’s career.

Safe practice focuses on the activities that performers do to prevent an injury from taking place. Exercises used to halt injuries consist of warming up before the class and cooling down after the class is finished, stretching the muscles that are going to be used during the performance allowing the muscles to loosen to stop any muscles from being pulled, having correct alignment during all activities performed as previously mentioned, not having correct technique could lead to an injury, lastly making sure that injuries are correctly supported will be advantageous in recovering from any injury. An online article on ‘Cooldown[s]’ enunciates that “Following this process will help you to recover properly from your dance classes It will optimise your next performance level, Make your body feel more energised and less achy, Make you feel less tired and feint [sic] after classes”(De Jorge-Chopra, n.d.). In summary, safe practice is required if a performer wants to have a lengthy career.

In and outside of my physical classes I use injury prevention techniques and safe practices to ensure that I don’t injure myself within or outside of the class. These techniques include me resting my body and getting sufficient sleep, making sure I wear layers and remove them when I feel it’s necessary to maintain the optimum body temperature and wearing suitable footwear that is specific to each dance style and class. I also make sure that I warm up my muscles and carry out cardio exercises in order to get my heart rate faster. I also self access my body during the war up incase that are any underlying pain that could lead to an injury. To improve my injury prevention and safe practices i think i should begin making written records with all the injuries I may be experiencing and safe practices i have used so that I know where to regularly stretch to allow me to identify improvements. To prevent internal and external risk I will aim to reduce the risk of injury by lessening the risk factors associated with injury and environmental hazards such as knowing the technique behind a movement and making sure the floor is suitable to dance on. Conclusively injury prevention and safe practices should be high-priority to dancer’s and musical theatre performers since if managed suitably and accurately it could lengthen your careers and not shorten it down drastically.

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Injury Prevention And Safe Practice In Dance And Theatre Performers. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 4, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/injury-prevention-and-safe-practice-in-dance-and-theatre-performers/
“Injury Prevention And Safe Practice In Dance And Theatre Performers.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/injury-prevention-and-safe-practice-in-dance-and-theatre-performers/
Injury Prevention And Safe Practice In Dance And Theatre Performers. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/injury-prevention-and-safe-practice-in-dance-and-theatre-performers/> [Accessed 4 Feb. 2023].
Injury Prevention And Safe Practice In Dance And Theatre Performers [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2023 Feb 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/injury-prevention-and-safe-practice-in-dance-and-theatre-performers/
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