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International Association of Dance Medicine and Science: A Week in Finland

Here is the Science in Dance review of the 2018 International Association of Dance Medicine and Science Conference from Helsinki, Finland.

Strap yourselves in for some pictorial and editorial highlights from IADMS 2018.

Firstly, I must thank every single member of the IADMS and Dance Health Finland for making Science in Dance so welcome at the Conference and congratulations on an amazing 4 days of insight, research and networking.

Helsinki is a fantastic city with much to offer in history and amazing food. The day before the conference started I was thrilled to join Katy Chambers, Steph De'Ath, Sarah Needham-Beck and Claire Farmer, all from the UK and flying the flag for One Dance UK and NIDMS, on a trip to one of the islands surrounding Helsinki for a crash course in GEO-Cacheing... Check it out if you don't know what it is!

The opening of the conference had to be seen to be believed as Finnish Break Dancer, Atta, took to the stage to give us his interpretation of how conducting should look... AMAZING...

The first keynote of the week surrounded sleep. Dr Henri Tuomilehto presented the need for balance in activity and recovery, demonstration that the equation of BURDEN VS RECOVERY must be balanced to maximise hormonal response at night and maintain cognitive and physical output if we are to succeed at work or in Dance. Similarly, changes in work environment and personal life can impact sleep quality. As such, Sleeping is a skill and must be practised properly with guidance to maximise daily output.

Benefits of Sleep at a hormonal level: 10-20% higher testosterone levels and increases in growth hormone for recovery.

"Pace and Master your Vitality."

My next Highlight came from Dr Sarah Needham-Beck who presented her data surrounding training loads and implications of monitoring Session RPE (check our previous article on this topic).

Sarah demonstrated the concept of the training load sweet spot in Acute:Chronic workload ratio, where by sharp changes in load can increase injury risk and thus being in the sweet spot with high chronic training loads (intensity and volume) may mitigate injury risk.

Dr Boni Reitveld presented his orthopaedic assessment of the Classical Dancer which was insightful and full of tips for the clinician!

Nico Kolokythas (S&C Coach) presented his detailed and meticulously thought out research and development process of the 11+ Dance for injury prevention.

3 presentations stuck out for me.

  • Susan Mayes of Australian Ballet discussing their wellness system and Repertoire specific training for injury prevention and performance.

  • Dance Health Finland's AJG Howse Memorial Lecture on the Dancer's Hip.

  • Dr Nicky Keay's presentation on Endocrinology and Relative Energy Deficiency - Sport (Performance) which tied together aspects of Training Load, Nutrition and Recovery.

Susan Mayes demonstrated, very clearly, that Aus Ballet have a set up that may only be paralleled by a few Dance Companies and even Sports Teams in the world. Astounding and impressive injury statistics as well as scheduled and thorough processes in the company that allow Dancers to prepare for the specific role or rep they are about to perform. For example, Male Dancers will use specific exercises in the gym to prepare their lower limbs for the Trepak from Nutcracker or Female Dancers preparing for the ramp and arabesques in La Bayadère will prepare the lower limbs and lower backs in particular. "Injury Prevention Works".

A very inspiring and promising lecture that has implications for future work in Dance.

Dance Health Finland brought a fascinating lecture broadcasting the anatomy of a Dancer's hip and potential options for hip replacement surgery. Put bluntly, "It is all in the REHAB". Dancers of many different ages can recover to full performance standards 12 months post surgery with correct and progressive rehabilitation.

"Diamonds are girl's best friend... but hip replacements can be as well."

In the past practitioners have rightfully progressed carefully with adduction and internal rotation following hip replacements. However, return to Dance protocols used by the Finnish team demonstrate that full function can be restored with out cause for concern regarding functional range of motion.

Dr Nicky Keay inspired me through her presentation and lecture. This particular session will pave the way for practitioners to explain to young Dancers how Recovery, Nutrition and Training load can directly impact performance.

Training Load must be optimise, Nutrient availability must be maximised and Recovery must be correctly implemented in order to practise and perform/train to the highest standard for each individual. RED-S (Relative Energy Deficiency) can heavily impact the menstrual cycle and hormonal responses for performance. The RED-S spectrum can be drastically impacted by the 3 pillars that have just been mentioned. In Dance, the occurrence of RED-S can be surprisingly frequent and is influenced by more factors than simply nutrition.

Finally, Austin Flood MSc. (S&C Coach) presented his data from his MSc. research at the Royal Opera House. This presentation demonstrated implications for landing tests to be included in the screening and monitoring of Ballet Dancers to provide baseline data for injury rehabilitation and prevention. Having seen Austin present similar research prior to the conference it was fascinating to see how his ideas surrounding and analysis of monitoring tools has developed in the last 6 months. The research actually demonstrates a calling for us to examine normal values of Dancers' biomechanics to establish individual baselines and subsequently monitor them to identify "red flags" or changes in Dancer movements that may imply positive or negative changes in strength and stability. Great Presentation Austin!

On the whole what a fantastic conference. The people are certainly what make these conferences. It was amazing to meet and spend quality time with legends of the Research as well as other young practitioners who have a clear passion and caring attitude towards Dancers. All in all just top quality people!

Next Stop IADMS Montreal 2019!

Special Thanks to: Adam Mattuisi and Austin Flood (Royal Ballet), Martin Lanfear (Scottish Ballet), Claire Farmer and Stephanie De'Ath (NIDMS), Paige Rice (Edith Cowan University), Mark Rasmussen (Harlequin Floors), Amanda Huke-Smith (Performers College), Sarah Needham-Beck (Chichester University), Caroline Jubb (RNOH and NIDMS), Nefeli Tsiouti (Project Breakalign), Kim Hutt (LCDS) and Katy Chambers (RAD).

Massive THANK YOU to KS Dance for supporting our trip and giving Science in Dance the opportunity to work in this Industry.

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