Sports Therapy and Dance

Posted on 27/09/2021
Posted in: Starcast Dance Classes

This term our Starcast Fordingbridge Principal, Miss Katie Austwick, got the absolute privilege to speak to Sports Therapist ‘Sam Austwick’ BSc (Hons). Sam took some time out for us to answer some questions all about her experience and knowledge when working with a dancers body.

A lot of people forget that Dancing is a sport and not just an art form. Like all sports it requires consistent training and dedication, not only to reach your best ability but to keep your body strong and safe. Sam makes some good points here in her answers, that mental and physical health come hand in hand, you cant have one without the other. The dance industry can be cruel to be kind and just like a pianist not being able to play without their piano, a Dancer cannot perform when they are presenting a body and mind which is not being looked after. 

Sam is just superb at her Sports Therapy, and I may be biased because she is in fact my sister but as a dancer myself who suffered an injury, there is no safer hands to be in.  Enjoy this read and biggest Starcast Thanks and love to Samantha Austwick for her time in talking to us and enduring many of my rendition performances of High School Musical growing up!

Did you ever massage dancers? 

I have treated some dancers in the form of sports tissue massage; mostly maintenance work. I once treated a ballet dancer who had been selected to perform in an upcoming Swan Lake tour, choreographed by the phenomenal Matthew Bourne. It would be an understatement to say that he had tight calves due to the type of posture ballet dancers must adopt!

  How important is it for a dancer to look after their body?

I believe it is key for any athlete to look after their body, both physically and mentally.  Dancing requires such a high degree of flexibility, a strong core and well conditioned soft tissue structures. Dance is such a powerful sport, and I mentioned earlier that being mentally fit  is also key as dance is such an expressive form of movement, it requires the dancer to be able to display a connection between their mind and body; being mentally fit enables this.  

like any athlete, a dancer must ensure they get enough rest and avoid over training. They must always wear the proper shoes and attire, eat well, stay hydrated, always warm up before training and performance and cool down afterwards. It is also important for a dancer to cross train; building strength and endurance in all parts of their body so that they have the agility and coordination to execute a whole range of physical movements. 

Lets talk listening to your body and how to deal with an injury, many dancers will push through but that may work short term and backfire in the long run, thoughts? 

I am a great believer in listening to your body: that gut instinct we always refer too. Many dancers and athletes I have treated will want to push through a particular injury or area of weakness, and I am pleased to say that some have taken time to pause and access rehabilitation; however there are occasions where their mind is made up and their body gets left behind – this is when the injury or area of weakness will come back for a second round! Trusting your instincts is important.