One question we commonly get asked in the clinic is ‘is there a good exercise for a ……. (dancer/swimmer/runner etc)’. The simple answer is no there’s not. The people we work with are so individual and exercise selection is never a one size fits all situation.

There are so many other things we analyse and take into account before we end up at the last step of choosing the exercises in a program.¬†Take for example these 3 different case studies of 3 dancers that I’ve had in the clinic recently. All had a couple of exercises overlapping in what were 3 very different programs with each dancer having vastly different considerations and for the most part, very different programs.


Background: Cruise ship singer/dancer who had sustained an annular tear (injury to a lumbar disc) during the take-off for a jump.

Main Programming Considerations:

* Deep intrinsic core deficiency – particular multifidis muscles
* Posterior chain weakness
* Poor lumbo-pelvic control in the anterior-posterior plane
* Poor landing mechanics due to the above
* Difficulties posed in pre-empting timing for landings due to the movement of the ship
* Overhead strength
* Fitness required for rehearsal block

Dan’s requirement of lifting other dancers overhead and the need for pelvic and core control, quality upper body patterning and overhead strength as well as effective force transfer from lower to upper body. Additionally he needed to be conditioned for a very high volume of training and limited rest in the pre-production rehearsal block once he returned to work.


Background: Dancer for a contemporary dance company – sustained a bucket meniscal tear during a rehearsal for an upcoming show.

Main Programming Considerations:

– Regaining VM (medial quad) control and strength
– Regaining VM and glute med sequencing to ensure we redevelop hip and knee stability – both of which were at quite a deficit post surgery.
– Previous hip Labral tear
– Maintaining flexibility and ROM of lower limb (hip, knee and ankle)
– Re-strengthening end ranges of motion – lots of work in extreme ranges and at depth.
– Retraining client to jump as well as incorporating rapid change of direction work.
– Correction of poor landing mechanics

Throughout Elise’s program we had to avoid flaring up previously developed hip labral tear as well as strengthen to minimise irritation when she returned to dance. We also had to retrain her landing mechanics – by improving posterior chain loading, VM/Glute med firing and working on lateral and multidirectional landing control.


Background: Contemporary dancer in a 3 yr full time tertiary dance program preparing to graduate end of 2019 – sustained an ATFL (lateral ankle ligament) rupture just prior to commencing her final year.

Main Programming Considerations:

– Address poor balance and ankle proprioception
– Improve hip stability
– Regain full ROM in ankle (ROM had decreased dramatically due to delay in diagnosis)
– Re-strengthen ankle plantarflexion and dorsiflexion as ROM increased
– Retrain jumping and landing mechanics

In Alivia’s program we had to address secondary hip instability which was overloading the injured ankle in jumping, landing and dynamic movement. Due to university requirements we had to return client to minimum acceptable volume through modified activity without increasing her risk of reinjury.


Daniel – main objective of the BOSU exercises were to address the deep core and lumbo-pelvic control issues as well as account for the altered landing mechanics due to the implications of performing on a cruise ship.

Elise – the primary purpose of incorporating the BOSU exercises was to address the deficits in hip and knee stability and ensure she could handle any multidirectional jumping and landing she may encounter in choreography, class work or teaching.

Alivia – for this client the BOSU exercises were primarily retraining her ankle proprioception with a secondary focus on improving her hip stability and general jumping and landing mechanics.


As you can see these 3 dancers all had very different considerations in their programming not only due to different injuries but also due to contrasting secondary considerations. Although they all required some work on proprioception and landing control, even the same BOSU exercises had very different objectives for each dancer. All 3 clients had a very different lead in to this area of overlap and all were progressed to different plyometric and strength programs as part of their pre-discharge program.

This case study comparison is a great example of how diverse our clients are even if they appear similar at first glance. To get the best results it’s always imperative to consider the individual and follow a predefined process.

1. Assess client
2. Compile an extensive list of individual considerations
3. Decide on objectives then develop a treatment plan
4. Write program and LASTLY, decide on exercises.

Adopting this approach will ensure you are on track to get the best and most timely results with your clients and athletes and is far more effective than choosing exercises prematurely.

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