Is chiropractic a long-term solution or just a quick fix?

When Richmond Ballet dancer Cecile Tuzii was a student, she repeatedly injured the same ankle and couldn’t find a solution. A friend suggested she see a chiropractor, who discovered that her lower back and sacrum were misaligned, putting stress on her ankle joints. After regular treatments, she finally found relief. Now, she regularly sees a chiropractor to maintain her body and identify causes of inflammation. “I probably owe my long career to chiropractic, because it’s taken care of me and prevented injury,” says Tuzii. “I prefer going to the chiropractor over taking pills.”

Dancers often favor holistic treatments to prevent and heal injuries. Chiropractic is a drug-free, hands-on option that could potentially help avoid more drastic measures, like surgery. While some medical professionals question its effectiveness (the practice was invented in the late 1800s by magnetic, metaphysical healer Daniel David Palmer), many dancers find it helps correct their alignment issues and identifies sources of pain.

Treatment

Chiropractors are specialists in how the bones and muscles connect and relate to each other. The goal is to balance the body’s alignment, evening out the weight put on joints. Much of this is done to resolve small issues before they become a bigger problem. “When a dancer comes in, they may have pain on the outside of their left knee,” says chiropractor Joshua Cohen, who works with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers. But the discomfort, for instance, may be coming from a strained muscle in the hip. “Just because the knee is where they feel the pain, it doesn’t mean that’s where it’s coming from,” he adds.

Chiropractors will perform a series of manual adjustments to increase range of motion and release the affected muscles and joints. Most will use multiple methods of care within the same visit. Diversified Technique is one of the more common adjustment methods. During treatment, the chiropractor applies sudden pressure to the joints to help restore proper movement and alignment. (Sometimes, this manipulation releases gasses in the joint, creating the cracking often associated with the practice.) Other methods include Thompson Technique, which uses a special table that increases the force of the adjustments to a specific area, and Directional Non-Force Technique, in which the practitioner applies a softer touch that does not cause joints to crack.

Chiropractic helped Richmond Ballet dancer Cecile
Tuzii’s ankle.

Cohen practices Nimmo, or trigger point therapy, which can help treat injuries like tendinitis, arthritis and strained, sprained or pulled muscles. “Trigger points are localized areas of muscle spasm. When a muscle gets overused, it gets tighter and tighter until it tears on a microscopic level,” he says. By applying pressure to these points, blood flow is temporarily stopped, and when he releases pressure, Cohen says, “It allows fresh blood to rush in and wash away a lot of the inflammation.”

A Controversial Craft

Critics of chiropractic argue that the method is not a solution for injury. “Chiropractic is a temporary fix. Nothing is permanent,” says Cohen. Overuse injuries like arthritis can’t be cured, but a chiropractor may help manage them. Jennifer Green, a physical therapist at PhysioArts in New York City, is most concerned that dancers regularly seeing any kind of practitioner are trying to find a quick fix for their pain, instead of looking for the root of their problem, which is often tied to their technique. She concedes that chiropractic care may help some dancers. “Preventive care would likely include manual treatments, but also active treatments such as strengthening, stretching, technique modification, etc.,” she says. “Some respond better to massage, some to PT, some to chiropractic and some to acupuncture.” Ultimately, the dancer is the best judge. For Tuzii, working with a chiropractor helped her realize how her body parts worked together to achieve proper alignment. “I learned much more about my body,” she says. “It taught me that my work at the barre and in the center had to change.” DT

Kathleen McGuire is a former dancer. She also writes for Dance Magazine and Pointe.

Know Before You Go

Finding a doctor: Chiropractor Joshua Cohen says, to find a trusted practitioner, ask peers or your regular doctor for a referral and look at patient reviews online. To find someone in your area, he suggests chirodirectory.com.
Cost: Most major insurance carriers cover at least a portion of the fee. If uninsured, treatment often costs $50–$150 per visit.
Scheduling: Chiropractic treatment usually takes 15–20 minutes. With active patients like dancers, Cohen suggests going once or twice every week. Tuzii visits hers about once a month on her day off from dance. Chiropractic care is often an ongoing process requiring regular appointments.
What to wear: Cohen suggests wearing loose-fitting, thin clothing, so your chiropractor can feel the muscles.

Photos from top: ©iStockphoto.com; photo by Sarah Ferguson, courtesy of Richmond Ballet

Dance Teachers Trending
Roshe (center) teaching at Steps on Broadway in New York City. Photo by Jacob Hiss, courtesy of Roshe

Although Debbie Roshe's class doesn't demand perfect technique or mastering complicated tricks, her intricate musicality is what really challenges students. "Holding weird counts to obscure music is harder," she says of her Fosse-influenced jazz style, "but it's more interesting."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Dean College
Amanda Donahue, ATC, working with a student in her clinic in the Palladino School of Dance at Dean College. Courtesy Dean College

The Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean College is one of just 10 college programs in the U.S. with a full-time athletic trainer devoted solely to its dancers. But what makes the school even more unique is that certified athletic trainer Amanda Donahue isn't just available to the students for appointments and backstage coverage—she's in the studio with them and collaborating with dance faculty to prevent injuries and build stronger dancers.

"Gone are the days when people would say, 'Don't go to the gym, you'll bulk up,'" says Kristina Berger, who teaches Horton and Hawkins technique as an assistant professor of dance. "We understand now that cross-training is actually vital, and how we've embraced that at Dean is extremely rare. For one thing, we're not sharing an athletic trainer with the football players, who require a totally different skillset." For another, she says, the faculty and Donahue are focused on giving students tools to prolong their careers.

After six years of this approach, here are the benefits they've seen:

Keep reading... Show less
To Share With Students
Photo via Claudia Dean World on YouTube

Most parents start off pretty clueless when it comes to doing their dancer's hair. If you don't want your students coming in with elastic-wrapped bird's nests on their heads, you may want to give them some guidance. But who has time to teach each individual parent how to do their child's hair? Not you! So, we have a solution: YouTube hair tutorials.

These three classical hairdo vids are exactly what your dancers need to look fabulous and ready to work every time they step in your studio.

Enjoy!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Alternative Balance
Courtesy Alternative Balance

As a dance teacher, you know more than anyone that things can go wrong—students blank on choreography onstage, costumes don't fit and dancers quit the competition team unexpectedly. Why not apply that same mindset to your status as an independent contractor at a studio or as a studio owner?

Insurance is there to give you peace of mind, even when the unexpected happens. (Especially since attorney fees can be expensive, even when you've done nothing wrong as a teacher.) Taking a preemptive approach to your career—insuring yourself—can save you money, time and stress in the long run.

We talked to expert Miriam Ball of Alternative Balance Professional Group about five scenarios in which having insurance would be key.

Keep reading... Show less
To Share With Students
Via @madisongoodman_ on Instagram

Nationals season is behind us, but we just aren't quite over it yet. We've been thinking a lot about the freakishly talented winners of these competitions, and want to know a bit more about the people who got them to where they are. So, we asked three current national title holders to tell us the most powerful piece of advice their dance teacher ever gave them. What they have to say will melt your heart.

Way to go, dance teachers! Your'e doing amazing things for the rising generation!

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Getty Images

Enrollment is an issue that plagues brand-new and veteran studio owners alike. Without a steady stream of revenue from new students coming through your doors, your studio won't survive—no matter how crisp your dancers' technique is or how well-produced your recitals are.

Enrollment—in biz speak, customer acquisition and retention—depends on your business' investment in marketing. How effectively you get the word out about your studio will directly influence the number of people who register. Successful businesses typically use certain tried-and-true marketing strategies to recruit and retain clients or customers. These four studio owners' tricks for kicking enrollment into high gear are modeled after classic marketing techniques.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Turn It Up Dance Challenge
Courtesy Turn It Up

With back-to-back classes, early-morning stage calls and remembering to pack countless costume accessories, competition and convention weekends can feel like a whirlwind for even the most seasoned of studios. Take the advice of Turn It Up Dance Challenge master teachers Alex Wong and Maud Arnold and president Melissa Burns on how to make the experience feel meaningful and successful for your dancers:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Dance teachers are just as apt to fall into the trap of perfectionism and self-criticism as the students they teach. The high-pressure environment that is the dance world today makes it difficult to endure while keeping a healthy perspective on who we truly are.

To help you quiet your inner critic, and by extension set an example of self-love for your students, we caught up with sports psychologist Caroline Silby. Here she shares strategies for managing what she calls "neurotic perfectionism." "Self-attacking puts teachers and athletes in a constant state of stress, often making them rigid, inflexible and ultimately fueling high anxiety rather than high levels of performance," Silby says. "Perfectionistic teachers, dancers and athletes can learn to set emotional boundaries. They can use doubt, frustration and worry about missing expectations as cues to take actions that align with what they do when teaching/performing well and feeling in-control. Being relentless about applying a solution-oriented approach can help the perfectionist move through intense emotional states more efficiently."

Check out those strategies below!

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by The Studio Director

As a studio owner, you're probably pretty used to juggling. Running a business is demanding, with new questions and challenges pulling your attention in a million different directions each day.

But there's a solution that could be saving you time and money (and sanity!). Studio management systems are easy-to-use software programs designed for the particular needs of studio owners, offering tools like billing, enrollment, inventory and emails, all in one place. The right studio management system can help you handle the day-to-day tasks that bog you down as a business owner, leaving you more time for the most important work—like connecting with students and planning creative curriculums for them. Plus, these systems can keep you from spending extra money on hiring multiple specialists or using multiple platforms to meet your administrative needs.

So how do you make sure you're choosing a studio management system that offers the same quality that your studio does? We talked to The Studio Director—whose studio management system provides a whole host of streamlined features—about the must-haves for any system, and the bonuses that make an excellent product stand out:

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Thinkstock

Since the dawn of time, performers have had to deal with annoying, constant blisters. As every dance teacher knows (and every student is sure to find out), blisters are a fact of life, and we all need to figure out a plan of action for how to deal with them.

Instead of bleeding through pointe shoes and begging you to let them sit out, your students should know these tricks for how to prevent/deal with their skin when it starts to sting.

You're welcome!

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Brian Guilliaux, courtesy of Coudron

Eric Coudron understands firsthand the hurdles competition dancers face when falling in love with ballet. Now the director of ballet at Prodigy Dance and Performing Arts Centre in Frisco, Texas, Coudron trained as a competition dancer when he was growing up. "It's such a structured form of dance that when they come back to it after all of the other styles they are training in, they don't feel at home at the barre," he says.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox