ASK THE PHYSIO | Start 2021 Strong

Let’s Get 2021 Off to a Strong Start … At Home Program for Dancers

Know Your Movement

by Sally Harrison from Pro-Align & Strength4Dance

If you were like me, it was a strong start to 2020 full of plans, commitments and trips and then … BOOM! … nope! It all changed. Personally, I had 7 trips cancelled at the last minute: 6 interstate for conference and training, and a big trip overseas to see my family and friends in the UK. I had dance conferences cancelled and my classes had to go online in a matter of minutes as we all entered into a world of online ‘Zoom’.

Quite frankly, it’s all been all a bit depressing. However, I think we did really well as a country and as a community, and adapted quickly. My personal saving grace was that I could go back to dance class and yoga in person by term 3.

So how has your body felt over this last year? I know I’ve seen a few ‘dancing from home’ injuries in clinic. How did you invest in your body over this time?

Let’s Talk Training for 2021

So, as we’ve seen again recently, things can change really quickly and we may find ourselves in lockdown with studios and gyms closing again. So where do we train?

It’s been my passion to provide training solutions that you can do at home, in the park, by the beach, and more. As dancers we’re not really in the ‘big earner’ category, and if you’re just starting out, you may not have the finances for a Personal Trainer, gym membership or even access to a specialist dance physio. However, staying strong, mobile and working on injury prevention is a necessity if we want to succeed in our chosen career. So what are you currently doing? What is your plan?

Do you want your body to fail you? Do you feel supple, pain-free and able to take on any choreography in your mind? …  But is the reality in your body different?

There are so many facets that we need to address for a healthy body and mind that it can be quite overwhelming. With so much advice out there where do you start?

One place to start is the Strength4dance YouTube channel. The content of this channel is created from my own experience as a professional dancer, my journey with injury and my qualifications and experience as a physio and movement coach over the last 20 years. The channel provides short videos for you to use as a resource library to create the knowledge to design your own assessment and care plans.

It is so important to have a strength training programme in place outside of your dance training. A programme where you can focus on your mobility, stability, targeted strength gains for your muscles and fascia and plan-in some rest and recovery time.

I fully practice what I preach and remain committed to regular weekly exercise. What you see on the channel is what I do myself and with my clients. This means I can still physically do regular dance classes, shows and performances when the opportunities arise, and get the same enjoyment from dance that I’ve had since I was a child. This regular attention to training allows me to continue to do what I want, even with a body that has undergone two knee surgeries, chronic pelvic and back pain and a doozy of a bunion on my right foot!

To help you navigate the channel I have put together some short plans for you which I will be sharing over the year ahead.

These ‘at home programmes’ are short and easy to digest with quick results to be felt in your body.

Know Your Movement

First up for 2021 will be one of the basics: Know Your Movement.

In this mini-programme we look at some foundations of movement. We can’t build an amazing house without some solid foundations in place. These are some movement foundations for you: 3D Planes; Movement terms; Centre Of Mass’ and ‘Base Of Support‘; and Muscle Action.

3D Planes of Movement

Learn about the 3D planes of movement and why they’re so important for dance! Each joint should move in all 3 planes of motion for health, strength and injury prevention.

Movement Terminology

Do you know your flexion from your extension? Or your abduction from your adduction? Is medial and internal rotation the same?
Knowing our movement terms is essential for creating good training programmes – and good training programmes are essential for creating a strong robust body that can keep dancing and recover quickly. Know the basics!


Centre of Mass (COM) & Base of Support (BOS). Learn about the foundations of balance, muscle activity & movement with these concepts.
These concepts can also be tweaked to progress and regress our exercises. This is important when we look at designing the right rehab level to prevent or come back from injury.


Make sure you fully understand your body before you train!
This video shows how base of support and centre of mass affect how we walk. We are never fully still!

Muscle Action

How do muscles work?
What is concentric, eccentric and isometric action?
How does this relate to my training or injury prevention?
Understanding the body = great movement


Remember prevention is always better than cure. Creating a strong robust body that can withstand excess forces and stress = less chance you will need to see someone like me in the clinical setting!

Sally xx

Pro-Align  physiotherapy for dancers

Lauran Jervis Facebook





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