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Health and fitness

Birmingham Royal Ballet's dancers have to take good care of their bodies - leaping across stages can often be dangerous, and an injury means that they may have to miss performances. To make sure they can stay as healthy as possible, they visit the Jerwood Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Dance Injuries which specialises in dance injuries.

The Clinical Director of the Jerwood Centre is Nick. Nick used to work with sportsmen and women, and before joining BRB he had never seen a ballet. His previous role was Head of Medical Services for Gloucester Rugby Club and he has also been a national squad therapist for the England Hockey team.
It may seem like a huge leap from the world of rugby to the world of ballet but Nick believes that caring for top athletes is no different from looking after ballet dancers and the methods used to look after them should be the same.

After joining BRB, the main thing that struck Nick was how skilled the dancers had to be. They work very hard to improve their technique constantly and this used to be the main way that they kept fit. However they didn't always work on their strength. As a result the Jerwood Centre is now working with dancers to improve their overall levels of strength, to improve their levels of safety when performing.

Common injuries for dancers are generally on the legs, knees and ankles, due to the stress ballet places on these areas. However, injuries sustained vary from dancer to dancer, and can depend on what sort of role they have been performing. The dancers all visit the centre regularly so they can monitor how they are doing, not just when they have hurt themselves.

About the Jerwood Centre
The Jerwood aims to prevent and cure dance injuries, and has a range of different pieces of equipment that the dancers can use. It has an assessment and treatment area which looks a bit like lots of doctors offices, a hydrotherapy pool where the dancers can exercise, a body conditioning area for pilates a conditioning, and of course a range of gym equipment like weights and exercise bikes. It is staffed by a dedicated team of health professionals including three chartered physiotherapists (who deal with bones and muscles), masseurs (who release tension in the muscle tissue), a body conditioning instructor (who helps the dancers improve their flexibility and strength), podiatrist (who specialises in foot injuries), osteopath (who deals with bones) and visiting consultants.

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Nick Allen

Nick at work

The Jerwood Centre

Some of the Centre's equipment

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