As cliché as it reads, “the body is the dancer’s instrument.” We use the body, rely on the body, and depend on the body to do our job. We must listen to it too. When we have a muscle spasm we have to consider drinking more water, when the body is fatigued we must calm our dancing, when we bruise we have to adjust our diet, and when our bones become fragile we may consider increasing our intake of calcium. To meet the demands of our work (rehearsing and performing, day-after-day, season-after-season), we must listen to our bodies. Beyond this listening act, dancers’ aren’t required to know the education behind the body, but for those who are interested; dancehealthier would be pleased to fill you in.
Today, dancehealthier, will continue the series, “An educational look inside the body,” with a focus on cartilage. Whether a single fact or many facts are learned, I hope that you enjoy today’s post as well as the entirety of the series.
Did you know that cartilage tissue consists mostly of water and is generally resistant? Cartilage is significantly distinguished by the fact that it contains no nerves and very few blood vessels. Similar to bones, each cartilage is covered and surrounded by a covering of dense connective tissue, called a perichondrium (which acts to resist distortion of the cartilage when it’s subject to immense amounts of pressure, & it plays a role in cartilage growth and repair).
dancehealthier will discuss three types of skeletal cartilages – hyaline, elastic, and fibrocartilage.
- Hyaline Cartilage – Most skeletal cartilages are compose of this kind of cartilage. This type of cartilage provides sturdy support with some resilience to give.
- Elastic Cartilage – This type of cartilage is found in the external ear and the epiglottis. It tends to be much more flexible and it tolerates repetitive bending.
- Fibrocartilage – This type of cartilage is found in the intervertebral discs as well as the cartilage found in the knee joint. It consists of rows of chondrocytes alternating with rows of thick fibers, giving it great tensile strength enabling it to withstand heavy compression.
Behaviors dancers can do to keep their cartilage healthy:
- Take Supplements – Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Vitamin D, Omega 3 fatty acids are said to be helpful based on research and development.
- Watch Your Weight – For dancers’ this doesn’t mean lose weight. A better way to think about this is to find a healthy weight that is applicable to your body and maintain it (rather than fluctuating weight).
- Strengthen Weak Muscles Surrounding the Joint – Please be sure to ask for help from an expert health professional if needed (from a dancer specialized PT, ATC, or Physician).
Reference: Marieb, Elaine, N., & Mitchell, Susan, J. Human Anatomy & Physiology Laboratory Manual: Ninth Edition. Pearson Education, Inc. 2011.