I hope you found this past Conversation Sunday piece, Q & A Session with Jill Vonderhaar Nader, PT and Pilates Specialist, to be helpful. Jill is a great resource for dancers, so take a look if you haven’t had the chance.
On a different note, I chose to take part in a study conducted by Dr. Michelle Reillo, a researcher and specialist for hyperbaric medicine, also known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy? HBOT is simply the medical use of oxygen at a higher level than atmospheric pressure. Dr. Michelle Reillo contacted a Kansas City Ballet dancer with her interest in conducting a hyperbaric therapy study for professional ballet dancers. For the study, each participating dancer received a 30 minute hyperbaric oxygen therapy session in a shallow portable chamber. Each dancer was required to fill out a pre and post test associated with the study. I have to admit, I knew very little about HBOT and was hesitant at first to participate. To familiarize the dancers, Dr. Michelle Reillo shared some videos about the use of hyperbaric, which I thought I would also share with you:
This video is of the ballroom dancers that Michelle treated in Florida.
It shows the chamber we will be using.
An NFL player talks about his use of hyperbaric:
A news feature about hyperbaric treatment with athletes. This is a
different type of chamber.
Upon talking with Dr. Michelle Reillo, and doing a little research of my own, I learned that HBOT helps relieve fatigue, enhances recovery time for neuromuscular injuries, and enhances post recovery. My next thought was exactly how does HBOT do all that? In order to find my answer, I found an article that broke down what happens when an injury occurs, and how HBOT helps:
- When an injury occurs, swelling and edema (excess fluid of connective tissues) forms as a protective mechanism.
- Other natural reactions to injury occur, such as when red blood cells compress, which restricts the ability for healthy oxygen carrying plasma and red blood cells to reach the injury site.
- These injured tissue sites then become starved for oxygen, which ultimately slows or impedes healing.
- Under HBOT, oxygen transport by plasma and hemoglobin is significantly increased, which is limited under normal atmospheric pressure.
- Therefore, HBOT allows oxygen to reach the injury site so cells can heal and the immune system can defend harmful agents.
Happy Sunday to everyone!
As mentioned in Movement Wednesday’s post, Applying Strength, today’s post will be a Q & A session with Physical Therapist, and Pilates certified, Jill Vonderhaar Nader. Jill has over 14 years of experience working with dancers, broadway dancers, symphony players, vocalists, as well as a number of athletes, including Cincinnati Reds and Bengal players. Jill is the founder and owner of PrehAB Pilates and Physical Therapy. I hope you all enjoy and learn from this session as much as I have.
dancehealthier: How is working with a dancer different than working with a non-dancer? – This may have to do with your approach, your exercises, your focus?
Jill Vonderhaar Nader: Working with dancers is very different in the fact that dancer’s bodies are considered hyper-mobile. This might be their genetic nature, which is what drew them to dance from the beginning, or they might have been able to develop excessive flexibility over time. So, when you are evaluating a dancer’s injury, it is very important to keep that in mind. You have to allow them to maintain that excess flexibility they need for dance but at the same time, help them create the necessary STABILITY to allow an injury to heal and prevent further injury in the future.
I have heard many dancers complain that they saw a rehab professional who could not understand how dancers could get injured because they were so flexible! The reason many dance injuries occur is exactly due to the fact that they have so much flexibility that their joints become too mobile and go past a normal range for that specific joint, which can lead to joint damage or soft tissue trauma.
Other injuries just occur with the physical nature of the job and can just happen on accident, but regardless it is still important to have someone who is familiar or will at least understand the delicate balance you must create when developing a rehab program for a dancer.
dancehealthier: Jill, I was so inspired by your manual therapy work and how invested your internal focus had to become while working with your clients? Could you explain this work and how your investment is key to helping others?
Jill Vonderhaar Nader: Just as a dancer has to develop an intricate sense of movement and “feeling” for movement, I have had to develop an intricate feel for joint motion and soft tissue mobility using my hands. My hands can tell me everything I need to know about an injury as well as really watching a dancer’s movement. Watching someone move will show you where they might be breaking down their body and then I follow that up with hands on work to test their motion and actually feel where they have restrictions that are causing them to move improperly. I have spent many years and a lot of money taking courses, learning from others in my field to keep expanding my knowledge on this. Seeing dancers get better and actually understand how they can retrain their bodies for optimal movement is my motivation to keep learning! It is truly a passion of mine so it is easy to stay focused and keep wanting to improve.
dancehealthier: Your exceptional at cueing exercises for your Pilate training? How important do you think this is for succession in your clients performance?
Jill Vonderhaar Nader: I think this is very important, because once someone leaves my clinic, they can still “hear” that cueing as they practice and visualize how the body moves. With cueing the movement makes sense to them, which helps to ingrain that proper movement into their muscle memory. Many people joke that they can hear my voice in their head when they are recreating the exercises on their own – that means I have been successful in my treatment! The more senses you integrate to your body, the better outcome you will have in getting the proper movement. The mind body connection is very strong and very effective.
dancehealthier: If there is one piece of advice you have for a dancer, what would it be?
Jill Vonderhaar Nader: Always be an active part in your injury prevention and rehab programs. Work closely with some one who respects you as a dancer and understands your needs. Find someone in your area who can work with you on developing an injury prevention program and help you figure out where your body might be susceptible to injury. Stay in shape outside of dance – Pilates, Gyrotonics, some forms of yoga (if it is designed for dancers), cardiovascular exercise, regular pre-dance warm ups, etc. If you do get injured, stay an active part of the process and really understand your injury and what is involved in getting it better.
dancehealthier: What has been your most pivotal/climatic time in your career? How does that time motivate you today?
Jill Vonderhaar Nader: The time I transitioned into learning Pilates really changed everything about my career and my life personally. It expanded the results I got with my patients so much and also taught me so much about my own body and how things are connected. By learning this connection with my own body and how it moves, I was able to translate that to my patients and got incredible healing results. It has been the best thing I have ever done for both personal and career satisfaction.
Our real problem, then, is not our strength today; it is rather the vital capacity of action today to ensure our strength tomorrow.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
I apologize to my readers for my lack of writing the last 3 weeks, but an unexpected life event demanded my full attention. Feel free to take a look back at the last two Movement Wednesday entries, An Internal Relationship and Our Own Unique Strength to recapture the idea of a dancer’s strength. Sticking with the topic of strength, I decided to link the ideas of these two articles (how a muscle works and it’s proprioceptive mechanisms) and apply it to a great dancer specific reformer exercise that I learned while interning with Physical Therapist and Pilate Certified, Jill Vonderhaar Nader (stay tuned for an interview with her for this coming Conversation Sunday piece).
- Thanks to Jackie Damico for these great pictures.
Before exercise be sure to: Raise head rest to it’s locked position, lay supine (on back), extend arms and fingers long parallel to body, find your neutral pilate pelvis (not tucked nor extended)
Recommendation for number of springs: Women – RY to RR (one red/one yellow spring to two red springs), Men – RRY (two red springs and one yellow)
- Place your left heal on the foot bar, slightly turned out (externally rotated) with knees over toes.
- Extend the right leg to the ceiling (at a 90 degree angle from the body) also slightly turned out. Point the foot.
- Slowly and carefully, while keeping the pelvis stable (like in pictures) push the left leg towards the foot bar and extend the leg – be sure not to jam the leg into a locked position.
- Now keeping the pelvis stable slowly flex and point the foot one time, being sure to articulate and roll through the metatarsals (like an ideal slow tendu).
- Once foot is fully pointed slowly and carefully bend the left leg back to its starting position.
- Reps: 10 times on each leg (repeat if necessary)