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Moved by movement

Dancing can bring happiness and sometimes, much more than that.

I dance because it brings me joy. I started with ballet since I was three. I also did hip-hop, contemporary and Chinese dance as a teenager, and my favourite moves are Latin these days. Dance has the amazing ability to engage me physically, emotionally and socially all at the same time, as I connect the beauty of music and movement. Dance has its own vocabulary, techniques and skills, which must be appreciated and applied, to understand the art. It holds a special place in my heart.

Dancing can help individuals improve their physical, emotional and psychological well-being. It can in fact be included as part of the 150 minutes-per-week moderate intensity exercise as advised by the Health Promotion Board. In addition, dance promotes the experience of ‘flow’, which allows one to focus on the music, rhythm and motion.

Unfortunately, dance injuries are common, usually due to overuse. It is important to be mindful and take preventive steps, to be able to mitigate the risks of dance-related injuries.

What should you do if you get injured when dancing?

In general, if you experience pain — rest it. If there is associated swelling over the area — ice and elevate. Should the pain become persistent or increase over time, or is associated with weakness, tingling or numbness, it is advisable to seek medical attention.

Dr Zhang conducts an ultrasound scan for a patient.

CGH provides multi-disciplinary care at the Performing Arts Medicine Clinic: Dr Lim Ang Tee, Consultant, Department of Sport and Exercise Medicine (top, middle) with a physiotherapist and patient at SSMC@Novena; Clinical Associate Professor Peter Lu, Senior Consultant, Department of Otorhinolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery (below, right) checks the vocal cords of a patient model through a video stroboscopy at the CGH Voice Clinic.

Where can you go to get help?

Most dance injuries can be managed with adequate rest, analgesia, activity modification and physiotherapy, while surgery may be required in recalcitrant or severe cases. Medical professionals play a vital role in treating, managing and also in preventing injuries. Dancers tend to respond well to medical providers who respect the aesthetic demands, intricacies and intensity of dance.

Multi-disciplinary care for unique health needs

Besides dancers, instrumentalists are also prone to extreme bodily stress and strain, and face anxiety and mental health issues at times as they spend long periods practising a short musical phrase over and over to get the nuance right. Many vocalists also subject their vocal cords to prolonged duration of use, and/or may perform at high volume, and are thus susceptible to developing voice conditions.

To this end, Changi General Hospital launched the Performing Arts Medicine initiative to support the physical and mental health needs unique to dancers, instrumentalists and vocalists in a timely manner. A Performing Arts Medicine Clinic (PAMC) has been set up to provide one-stop multi-disciplinary care — from evaluation, treatment and rehabilitation to injury prevention, wellness and education — by a team of doctors, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists and dietitians. Similar services are offered at the Singapore Sport and Exercise Medicine Centre (SSMC)@CGH.

Dr Mandy Zhang has a special interest in performing arts medicine, especially in dance medicine. She is currently the Chair for the Performing Arts Medicine special interest group under the Sports Medicine Association Singapore (SMAS) and a member of the Professional Development Committee and Research Review Taskforce in the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS).

Moved by movement