Enhance Your Dance Program Helps Dancers Recover from Injury

WARE — For many, dance may not come to mind when thinking about sports, but the physical demands placed on the bodies of dancers have been shown to make them just as susceptible as football players to injury.

“Young dancers are not just artists but athletes as well,” said Aiena Laya Bautista, doctor of Physical Therapy at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. “Most begin dancing at the age of 5 or 6, and the repetitive practice of movements that require flexibility, strength, and endurance can become overwhelming at such a young age. As with any sport or exercise routine, dance can make them prime candidates for overuse injuries.”

Bautista, a dancer herself who has been specially trained in the physical needs of the young dancer, offers Enhance Your Dance, a program for young athletes that specializes in treatment of young and adolescent dancers after an injury. The program is a collaboration between the BMLH Rehabilitation Department and BMP – Quabbin Pediatrics, which evaluates and prescribes the correct type, frequency, and duration of exercises that will get the young dancer pain-free and back to dance.

“Especially for teens, physiological changes that accompany rapid growth can lead to a youth being more susceptible to an injury,” said Bautista. “During a growth spurt, muscles and bones grow longer much faster than they grow stronger, which can lead to imbalances. Dancers can also lose core strength and coordination as their center of gravity changes from growing, which can further increase the likelihood of injury.”

Bautista danced from grade school through her college years and has experienced the physical demands placed on young dancers.

“I encourage children to keep dancing and exercising,” she said. “Dance is a great outlet for creativity and physical exercise that can also build character and self-confidence. The repetitive movements involved in dance can improve muscle tone, balance, and coordination, and improve overall cardiovascular health. Getting and keeping dancers free of injury in a fun environment is key to helping them enjoy a lifetime of physical activity and dance.”

For more information about the Enhance Your Dance Program, call (413) 967-2180.