The Fringe Festival is about to start and as always is an unmissable opportunity to enjoy different kinds of art in Edinburgh. As in all sports, artists must warm up and work hard in rehearsals to do their best on stage. Repeated rehearsals and performing all month can take its toll on the body!
Performers can usually suffer from physical injuries and conditions related to the instrument they play, the dance performed, the role played, etc. These injuries and conditions may include:
– Repetitive Strain Injuries, (e.g. carpal tunnel syndrome)
– Neck and Back Pain
– Other musculoskeletal or neurological conditions
According to several studies, the most frequent sites of injuries for dancers are the lower extremities, back, and neck. For actors, the most frequent sites of injuries reported are the lower extremities, lower back, and vocal cords 
Dancers and theatre performers are considered as athletes, given the physical requirements, intensive training, and environmental demands placed upon them. Just as an inadequately managed or rehabilitated injury affects athletic performance it affects artistic performance!
For example, the neuromuscular complexity associated with high-level musicianship renders the instrumentalist susceptible to a variety of disabling problems: small errors in the biomechanics of the arm or hand due to pain, joint stiffness, muscle weakness, altered sensation, or any other abnormality may have negative effects on rhythm and pitch .
Common problems found artists who work with their hands, mouth and voice (emphasis: music, art/theatre):
– Overuse syndromes: Defined as injuries caused by repetitive movements.
– Neural Impingement: It may occur when a nerve passes between rigid structures and gets impinged. Pain, loss of strength, and sensory abnormalities are common symptoms.
– Focal Dystonias: Artists who work with their hands may be unusually susceptible to the development of focal Dystonias (abnormal muscle control)
– Voice problems: Musicians and actors are at risk for many disabling ailments. These include vocal
abuse in singing or speech; vocal cord nodules, polyps, cysts, or swelling; and infectious or allergic
Common problems in artists who work with their whole body (Emphasis: dancers and theatre performers):
Dancers and theatre performers are at high risk for a number of medical problems. Injuries in dancers are caused, in large part, by high demands placed upon the body. Acute and chronic bony injuries consisting of stress and non-stress fractures in the lower extremities and feet, and degenerative arthritis of multiple joints have been reported in classical ballet dancers.
In one study, collegiate dancers and theatre performers averaged 1.2 injuries per student per year. Overall, 75% had sustained an injury at some time, and 12% sustained injuries at least monthly. Twenty-one percent had suffered four or more injuries in the past year. A significant number of injuries sustained by these students are not evaluated by a physician and do not receive supervised rehabilitation . It is so important to seek professional advice for any injury to rehabilitate well and to avoid the injury from happening again.
By Inma our Physiotherapist 🙂
Over the Fringe Festival we help keep performers from all areas in the best condition for a busy month!! Please do get in contact if you have any questions or would like to book in for a treatment. We are here to help!
0131 241 1833
- Musculoskeletal injuries in theatrical dancers: site, frequency, and severity. Ernest L. Washington, M.D.
- 2. An Overview of Health Issues for Performing and Visual Arts Students. March 1991 Reprinted May 2009. COUNCIL OF ARTS ACCREDITING ASSOCIATIONS