Platinum Ballet Artistic Director Learns from the Best

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Earlier this year, I was thrilled to realize that Lisa Howell, the world-renowned dance physiotherapist that has changed the dance world with her groundbreaking work with high-level professionals including the Australian Ballet, was coming for a teaching conference to Misty’s Dance Unlimited in Onalaska, Wisconsin. (see Lisa’s full bio and website here Her work in the field of dance medicine is widely known and I’ve been hoping to study with her for years!

Lisa is widely published and I own many of her manuals for use with my students in the classroom. Her work is also freely shared on YouTube and her website, The Ballet Blog, is a tremendous resource for professional teachers, parents, and dancers alike. In person, she didn’t disappoint. Although I’ve studied much of her written work, the 24 full hours spread over 3 days of workshop was priceless. 30 teachers from all over the world convened to explore the latest information in dance medicine and I was tickled that it was practically in my backyard! Much of the time was spent moving-becoming familiar muscularly with the concepts surrounding postural assessment, core stability, safe and effective warm-ups, flexibility, retraining after injury, spinal mobility, and common injuries in dancers. A lot of time was spent discussing over-training dancers and unsafe stretching techniques seen world-wide with poor training resulting in young, broken bodies. I was lucky enough to be partnered with Minneapolis based physiotherapist Sarah Petrich, a former dancer, who works locally with athletes and dancers on these very issues. I returned feeling rejuvenated and ready to share the work with my PDC students even though some of the latest information contradicts the past. An example is the new thinking on the acronym RICE following injury-Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. New research tells us that mobility is best following injury because the fascia needs to stay lubricated. Ice can be applied but only for 5 minutes following acute injury to discourage swelling but following that, inflammation is now thought to encourage healing. Compression is also now discouraged however elevation is still considered a good idea to reduce swelling. I’m more excited than ever to share these topics with the PDC staff as well as inside the classroom with my students.