Integration of Acupuncture, Physical Therapy and Yoga for dancers

Hello Dancers!

This is Grace Bedard, DPT, CYI from Jade Integrated Health with another blog to help you keep dancing and recover from injuries faster! The purpose of this blog is to tell you disciplines offered at Jade and how they can help you as a dancer. As always we aim to meet you where you are, whatever level or discipline of dance you participate in, stage of your career/participation or period of life. Today we will discuss acupuncture, physical therapy, and yoga and answer some basic questions about how can you access these disciplines and what can they do for you as a dancer.  The information on Acupuncture is care of our Acupuncture team at Jade Integrated Health. Enjoy!


Many dancers are familiar with physical therapy if they have sustained a significant injury. For most musculoskeletal conditions your doctor will send you to physical therapy to attempt conservative care as a first step in your recovery. Currently, physical therapy services are mainly used if a person is experiencing pain or an injury that is impacting their daily activities (for example, participation in school or work, home activities and self care). Due to this, the time most people seek  physical therapy is when their pain is impacting life outside of dance. However, if you are dealing with a potential injury, you may be able to decrease your time away from dance and avoid development of chronic issues if you by seeking physical therapy early.Your therapist can decide if you need a full course of care or just some instructions and a home program to continue progress independently if full course is not medically necessary.


During your first physical therapy session the Physical Therapist will use tests to make a list of physical impairments, such as weakness, difficulty balancing or too much or too little joint mobility, and functional limitations including things like difficulty walking, sitting, standing or sleeping. The information gathered can be impactful to your recovery from an injury as well as establishing some preventative care to address impairments that may cause injury in the future. Usually a physical therapy session will include some exercises, education on biomechanics impacting the affected joint, modalities (such as taping) and manual therapy. Research has indicated that dancers tend to have improved access to care if their health care practitioner has an understanding of dance, the demands of the medium and the cultural norms of the dance community. In a study at Alvin Ailey in New York City found dancers with access to Physical Therapy reduced their time away from dance and incidence of forced retirement due to injury (Bronner, et al). This study found that most injuries were from overuse and early intervention was a key determining factor to preventing time away from dance due to injury.    


Acupuncture can be helpful to protect from injury, decrease fatigue and promote balance and recovery. It can improve performance by nourishing joints, muscles and bones, improving sleep and addressing chronic underlying conditions. Acupuncture may be covered by your insurance or can be integrated into your physical therapy treatment in the form of dry needling. Acupuncture or dry needling can include use of needles and/or cupping. Dance is a physically demanding activity. Acupuncture can help maintain and restore the body’s natural balance allowing patients to do what they love.   


Yoga can also be accessed as part of your physical therapy care as an option for your exercise therapy. Yoga is most accessible maintenance program as you can attend a yoga class just like you would a dance drop in class. There are a lot of yoga styles offered in Maine, find a class that is a good fit for you. When you are trying yoga classes you will benefit the most from a class that balances rather than replicates your dance classes and rehearsals. For instance if you are doing a lot of run throughs and coming up to a performance you may benefit from a restorative or gentle yoga class to provide your body with some active rest. However, if you are between shows and are dancing less intensely you may want to go for a Vinyasa class and work on strengthening your deep muscles and challenging your breath with more vigorous movement. The benefits of yoga for dancers are not only in cross training. Yoga can be a tool to connect your body, mind and breath and result in an improved relationship to your body. This can enhance your dance performance, improve your understanding of giving your body what it needs to avoid injury, and quiet the mind to reduce anxiety which will improve your chances of success on stage, at auditions and in life.    

We hope you have enjoyed this summary of some resources that you have to keep you dancing and support your ability to keep moving, no matter where you are going! If you are excited to hear more about how our team here at Jade can use our expertise to benefit the dance community in Maine, feel free to contact with questions and please stop by to see a physical therapist, acupuncturist, or attend a yoga class or Qigong class!

Have fun and stay happy, healthy and dancing!