Why did you become a physiotherapist?
After completing my BSc Physiology and Sports Science my goal was to work within a high performance environment. During this time, I had developed an interest in physical preparation and how the body adapts and recovers from injury which led me to going down the route of Physiotherapy. Being a physiotherapist has given me the opportunity to have a job which is very challenging, rewarding and satisfying where I am also constantly learning.
What does your role entail here at Scottish Ballet on a day-to-day basis?
Everyday is a different day in the PMed department, it is very dependent on the injuries we have at the time. I work very closely alongside our multidisciplinary team of clinicians here at Scottish Ballet to provide well-rounded, holistic support to the dancers. My job varies from assessment, diagnosis and rehabbing of an injury to incorporating proactive injury reduction strategies, including strength and conditioning, and undertaking research to allow us to make data informed decisions.
The company is currently touring the US with The Crucible. What do you do to prepare the dancers for such a long trip?
As a team we try to take a very proactive approach. Before the season starts, we look for blocks where the workload is lower and utilise this time to prepare the dancers. Over this year, we have developed individualised strength and conditioning programs with an aim to enhance performance and reduce the likelihood of injury based on previous injury history and the repertoire coming up. It has been a challenging time for us to get the dancers prepared for the USA tour of The Crucible, having only had a one week turnover between the end of our Scottish tour of Streetcar to flying to the USA.
What are your top travel tips for the dancers? What is your advice for dancers on coping with jetlag?
The best way to get over jet lag is to take steps to prevent it. This can be achieved by adapting the body’s rhythm in the days leading up to the flight. An adjusted sleep schedule along with specifically timed light exposure and melatonin supplements can help to adjust to the new time zone.
2. Sleep Hygiene
The best way to get adequate sleep is through good sleep hygiene. This includes avoiding sleep-disruptors (caffeine, alcohol and large meals) close to bedtime, making sure the bedroom is dark, cool and quiet and incorporating a wind down routine e.g. dimming lights, minimising blue light exposure.
3. Move and Hydrate
Air cabins are known to cause dehydration. Therefore, proper hydration and limiting caffeine and alcohol intake may help to manage jet lag symptoms and travel fatigue. It is also important to stand up and move throughout the cabin in order to prevent muscle stiffness and reduce the risk of blood clots.
What are the most common injuries/issues that arise from long-haul travel? How do you prevent them?
Illness is one of the biggest issues for us that arises from long-haul travel, in particular upper respiratory tract infections. Through our jet lag protocol we utilise various methods in order to reduce the likelihood of developing illness, including ensuring adequate sleep and hydration, hand hygiene and a variety of supplementation options.
What is the biggest difference between working with the dancers at our home, in Tramway, or when you’re on the road?
There are many differences when it comes to being on the road compared to being at base. There are limited resources available whilst on tour which means we need to adapt and improvise particularly when it comes to rehabilitation. We tend to look more at the short-term impacts of injury, making quick decisions as to whether a dancer is capable to go on for a performance.