5 Things I Want to Tell Dancers: Dance Medicine Specialist

In Interviews
Published in DanceInforma.Com

Dr. Selina Shah knows dance from the inside out — as a dancer trained in ballet and other forms and as director of dance medicine at the Center for Sports Medicine, in San Francisco and Walnut Creek, California. In addition to serving as team doctor for USA Figure Skating, USA Synchronized Swimming and other Olympic teams, Dr. Shah is the physician for dance companies, theatre groups and colleges in the Bay Area.

Dr. Shah is a researcher as well. She has published original studies on injuries in contemporary dancers and is a member of DanceUSA’s Task Force on Dancer Health and an officer of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science.

Here are her strategies for working at your best for a long time.

#1. Listen to your body

Vastly different injuries arise from a common cause, says Dr. Shah, explaining, “You want to look fantastic and take shortcuts to achieve this.” For instance, she points out, no matter how many times dancers are warned against this, they may fake a bigger turnout by rolling the ankles forward, turning out from the knees and swaying the lower back. For a high extension, many overuse the flexors in the front of the hip, such as the iliopsoas and quadriceps, or “quads”.

Shortcuts are, in fact, shortsighted. They cause aches and pains and can eventually produce serious injuries, even if you think you’re not doing them very much or very often. Pay attention to the discomfort messages, says Dr. Shah. “They’re your body’s signals that you must work within your limits as you figure out how to improve range of motion and other attributes,” she explains. It may take a little longer to achieve the aesthetic you want, but your technique will develop properly, and you’ll avoid hurting yourself. …