Musicians, dancers, gymnasts, acting professionals, and other types of performing artists are known to commonly experience overuse injuries, strains, sprains, and other complications due to the intense demands on their bodies. In recent years, it has been established that physical therapy is highly advantageous for those that work in the performing arts.

Not only do the physical therapy professionals that specialize in performing arts therapy evaluate and treat performers of all ages and backgrounds, they also provide education on the prevention of injuries and other types of strain on the body. Continue reading to learn about performing arts physical therapy.

ballerina

Are Performing Arts Activities Difficult on the Body?

Yes, according to research, all types of performing arts – be it the activities associated with playing a musical instrument, ballet or other types of dances, performing gymnastics, or engaging in theatrical plays on a consistent basis – are considered to be extremely taxing on all aspects of the body. These aspects include the joints, the bones, and the muscles.

What is the Goal of Performing Arts Physical Therapy?

Ultimately, the goal for physical therapy for performing arts professionals is to balance the unique athletic abilities of the individual with their specific form of artistic expression by combining the elements of general condition and highly technical training.

It is designed to be a proactive form of therapy that aids in promoting both wellness and the prevention of injuries. It also helps in creating a more rapid form of recovery from any sustained injury so that the individual may promptly return to the act of performing.

Each performing arts professional that engages in this form of physical therapy will maximize their unique abilities.

What are the Most Common Physical Therapy Approaches to Performing Artists?

Performing artists that elect to engage in physical therapy are provided with an individualized, custom evaluation. Depending on the activities in which they participate, they will be provided with a physical therapy regimen that will help them maximize the potential of their body based on their capabilities.

If an injury is sustained, the same is provided so that the artist may return to a level of full functionality.

The most common approaches in performing arts physical therapy include – but are not at all limited to – the following:

  1. Massage Therapy
  2. Myofascial Release
  3. Manual Therapy
  4. Joint Therapy
  5. Breathing Techniques
  6. Meditation Therapy
  7. Physical Modalities Designed for Pain Relief
  8. Strength Training
  9. General Body Conditioning
  10. Endurance Training
  11. Posture and Alignment Techniques
  12. Pacing Schedules
  13. Movement Re-education
  14. Balance Training
  15. Dry Needling for Muscle and Joint Pain

What Impact Does Performing Have on the Body?

Injuries among performing artists are exceptionally high. This stems from the tension, pain, and neuromusculoskeletal demands placed on the body due to the long hours associated with both practices and performances. Both the neuromuscular and the sensorimotor systems in the body must be highly developed due to the fact that the performing arts often results in rapid motions that are highly repetitive. Most performing artists push the body and find themselves in stressed positions for prolonged periods of time that may place an immense level of strain on the body.

Performing arts physical therapy helps educate performers on the physical aspects of their chosen specialty and provides information on how to wisely engage in those activities through the utilization of the proper mechanics. The following outlines the impacts that performing may have on the bodies of artists:

  • Many performing artists will experience some degree of muscle tension for prolonged periods of time due to both their practice sessions and their performances.
  • If a strain is placed on the body, the artist usually does not have a lot of time to engage in recovery exercises. As a result, additional complications arise.
  • The posture may become unbalanced or a general overcompensation may occur with the posture of the performer.
  • Warm-up routines may be rushed or even neglected due to time restraints associated with practices and actual performances.
  • The movements that the performing artist engages in are often rapid and highly repetitive.
  • If movements are performed that demand grip strength or holding certain positions for prolonged periods of time, it could result in the body suffering from pain due to awkward positioning levels.
  • Due to the physical demands of the performing artist, many will experience high levels of fatigue but lack the ability to obtain the necessary rest required for the body to properly repair itself.
Performing Arts

How Does Physical Therapy Help Those That Perform?

There are several ways that physical therapy helps performing artists. It is a known fact that even a small change to the way an individual practices, their posture, and rehabilitation techniques have the ability to improve the overall strength and longevity of a performer. Physical therapists that work with performing artists known and understand that a specialized level of care is required in order to prevent complications and increase recovery times. Physical therapists will engage in the following to help those that perform:

  1. First, the physical therapist will work with the artist to attempt to gain an understanding the root of the issue that they are experiencing. This will typically include inquiring about the activities the individual engages in or watching them participate in their chosen specialty. This will help to evaluate the way the performing performs and will help to pinpoint any positioning or strain that is placed on the body.
  2. Once the cause of the issue being experienced is identified, the diagnosis is then made. There are many common culprits among those in the performing arts. This may include nerve compression, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and many other underlying issues.
  3. Once the diagnosis is made and/or the problem is identified, the performing arts physical therapist works closely with the performer to tailor an approach that is customized to their individual needs. The physical therapy regimen may include several components. The most common usually combine movement therapies, specific types of exercises, the correction of the posture, and those that are similar in nature.

Get Started with a Performing Arts Physical Therapist Today

If you specialize in the performing arts, you will need a physical therapist that works closely with those in your field and understands your unique needs. We here at Back to Motion Physical Therapy do all of that, and more! Despite common belief, you do not need to be injured or ill to seek out physical therapy. In fact, it is advised that you enlist with a physical therapist in order to prevent illnesses and injuries. We will work closely with you to determine the demands placed on your body, create a customized care plan for you, and will develop a solid partnership with you to maximize your athletic abilities.

It does not matter what type of performing arts that you participate in – be it dance, playing an instrument, or acting – physical therapy will help you stay in the best shape possible and help you protect your body from future injuries and illnesses. We here at Back to Motion Physical Therapy offer a wide range of services. These will ensure that you perform optimally – at all times – without worrying over harming your body and sustaining injuries. We have worked with performing artists in many productions, including Sister Act, Frozen, Finding Never Never Land, and The King and I. If you live in the Denver area and want to know more about our services and/or to set up an appointment, contact us today.

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