Are you injury-prone?

At some point as a performer, you've probably had to deal with yet another dreaded fall or chronic pain that threatens to stop you in your tracks. It could be a sprained ankle, carpal tunnel syndrome, or polyps on your vocal cords. The lurking question, apart from how long until this problem heals, is "Why me?"

Many factors set you up for injuries. These can include unrecognized weakness or tightness from a prior injury, poor technique, performing yourself into shape, overwork, and anatomy. Unfortunately, if you're like most people in the entertainment industry, you'd rather sweat bullets than check in with a performing arts specialist for fear of having to take time off to recover. This is a common mistake that can have serious consequences. First, you miss the "magic" one-month healing period, where many problems resolve. Next, the longer you wait, the more you tend to compensate by favoring the sore area, creating more stress on your body. Finally, there's the possibility that you may have an inherited  problem, such as Benign Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (BJHS) that often slips through the cracks even though it affects a large proportion of performers from dancers to actors and musicians. In the latter case, you may require daily exercises to strengthen overly stretchy ligaments. The best way to catch BJHS is with the revised Brighton criteria by Dr. Rodney Grahame (outlined in my book The Dancer's Way).

How do you know? Seek a medical diagnosis if something hurts for more than five days, impairs your ability to sleep or walk, gets worse over time, or creates joints that sublux (pop in and out). Seek a specialist who understands your field. The Performing Arts Medicine Association is a good source for referrals (www.artsmed.org).

Glass Pieces
New York City Ballet, Glass Pieces by Jerome Robbins - Photo © Paul Kolnik