Sports Physiotherapy Perth for Dancers: Evaluating Length/Tension Muscle Relationships

Sports Physiotherapy Perth is the preferred treating method for injuries that are common among athletes and dancers. A series of tests and evaluations precedes the treatment process.  The length/tension muscle relationship test evaluates  the patient’s balance between strength and flexibility. If the patient is a frequently injured female dancer, there’s a good chance that she has the flexibility to bend over backwards, but lacks the strength to pull herself back to an upright position.

Mostability”

The renowned sports coach Vern Gambetta wrote an enlightening article titled “Too Much, Too Loose”. Here are his words of wisdom:

“Much of this controversy has arisen because the cult of flexibility that would lead us to believe that our athletes must become contortionists in order to prevent injuries and perform athletic movements.”

The same words apply to dancers,  who are athletes as well as performers.  While flexibility is defined as the range of motion available at each joint, Gambetta argues that we must transcend this definition when we speak about flexibility as applied to sport performance. He redefines flexibility as being the largest dynamic range of motion that can be controlled, and uses the word “Mostability, ”  a term coined by sports medicine expert Gary Grey, to describe this concept.

“Mostability is the ability to functionally take advantage of just the right amount of motion at just the right joint in just the right plane in just the right direction at just the right time.”

Hypermobility and Performance

Consider this: After any type of static stretch your body is incapable of performing with top agility or maximal speed. This is because your muscles become less responsive to stimulation. When your muscles are less responsive to stimulation, there is less feedback to the nervous system. As a result, your coordination is compromised. Static stretches also reduce the force production of your muscles, which essentially makes them weaker. These statements have been backed by a considerable amount of research. Here are the highlights of some of the studies:

  • Three 15-second stretches of the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles reduced the peak vertical velocity of a vertical jump in the majority of subjects. Knudson, D., K. Bennet, R. Corn, D. Leick, and C. Smith. 2000. Acute Effects of Stretching Are Not Evident in the Kinematics of the Vertical Jump. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport vol. 71, no. 1 (Supplement), p. A-30.
  • Maximal force in knee flexion declined on the average by 7.3% and in knee extension by 8.1% after static stretching even though 10–15 minutes passed between stretching and the strength test. Knudson, D., K. Bennet, R. Corn, D. Leick, and C. Smith. 2000. Acute Effects of Stretching Are Not Evident in the Kinematics of the Vertical Jump. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport vol. 71, no. 1 (Supplement), p. A-30.
  • In a study published in the August 2000 issue of “Physician and Sports Medicine” authors Dr Ian Shrier and Kav Grossal found that stretching, as part of a warm-up, did not reduce the susceptibility to injury. These researchers found that “only warm-up is likely to prevent injury,” by which they mean a series of dynamic stretches, or flexibility in motion exercises.  The researchers argues  that  if injury prevention is a primary objective of a warm-up routine, then athletes should “drop the stretching before exercise and increase warm-up.”

This means that a dancer, who often spends at least 10 minutes stretching at the bar before she starts to dance, might be sacrificing the power and intensity of her leaps and jumps, while setting herself up for injury. This is especially true if the dancer has overstretched hamstrings, which prevent her from bending her knees and absorbing the shock of the jump.

Sports Physiotherapy Perth for dancers emphasizes correcting the length/tension muscle imbalances, thereby improving performance and preventing injuries.

Call Happy Physio at (08) 9444 8729 for expert physio help.