Dance medicine in Vancouver WA and Portland OR

Physical Therapy for Dancers, Amy Werner DPT

Serving Portland OR | Vancouver WA

In order to treat an injury or strengthen a dancer’s movements, the whole body must be considered. When a dancer presents with an injury, Amy Werner works to understand the root of the problem, investigating potential points of weakness or compensation. These are just some of the areas she investigates during dance physical therapy:

  • Correct Hip Rotation
  • Foot Articulation (Foot Control)
  • Hip Flexor Strength
  • Core Strength
  • Muscle Memory (Correcting and Re-training)
  • Ankle Stability
  • Flexibility
  • Upper Body Strength and Control

How Can Dance Medicine Help?

Whether you’re recovering from a new injury, reworking an old injury, strengthening your existing muscles, or building new ones, Dance Medicine Physical Therapy can give you the strength and recovery you’re looking for. A Physical Therapist specializing in dance will take into account your dance and injury history, analyze the way your muscles move and determine areas of opportunity for strength or flexibility changes. Amy Werner is a retired dancer herself and understands dance in a comprehensive and experienced way. When you engage with Dance Physical Therapy, you’re engaging with the science behind muscles, injury, and dance itself, and Dance Medicine will make you a better dancer.

What is a Dance Injury?

A dance-related injury results in time loss from class, rehearsal, or performance. If you have gone one full day or more without dance exposure, you should receive an evaluation from a healthcare professional trained in dance medicine. Even if you find that you are starting to modify your movement, working with a dance Physical Therapist will help you learn ways to recover, feel better and move well, so you can get back to dancing.

Injury vs. Soreness

Physical activity naturally creates areas of soreness due to learning new movement patterns and performing repetitive activities. The most important difference between soreness and an injury is you cannot work through an injury – your body requires you to stop and evaluate. Soreness that is not properly addressed may turn into an injury.

How We Treat – Dance Medicine

Dancers are movement, artistic athletes, with very specific needs. Amy Werner, DPT has been working with dancers and dance physical therapy for over ten years, and she knows just how important it is to have a physical therapist who understands dancers and their unique musculature. Here at New Heights Physical Therapy Plus, we are committed to professional and compassionate dance physical therapy. We fully understand the daily challenges with dancing and know that agility of movement is foundational to dancing pain-free.

Hip Rotation

Considered the hallmark of classical ballet training, finding and controlling hip rotation, or turn out, is key to dancing well and staying injury free. Other styles of dance, such as modern or contemporary, also use hip rotation, but it becomes more challenging as this style of dancing requires dancers to move very fluidly through various hip rotation positions, often while in deep knee flexion and trunk extension. If the hip muscles do not have enough flexibility or strength, hip impingement can occur. Technique errors and insufficient warmups can also result in hip injuries. A dance medicine physical therapist can help adjust your movement patterns to recover from and prevent future injuries.

Foot & Ankle

The demands of dance movements are very athletic. If the foot and ankle lack power, range of motion or stability control, repetitive stress injuries can occur. A skilled Dance Medicine Physical Therapist will evaluate and can understand the technique, shoewear, floor surface and various dance related challenges in order to provide appropriate strength and stretch exercises focused on returning to full dance capability as soon as possible and minimizing future risk injury.

Muscle Strength

One of the best ways to prevent dance injuries is to strengthen your muscles. If muscles are not strong enough, your body will experience excessive fatigue due to compensation. Muscle strength and core muscle strength will allow your body to successfully execute different techniques and movements. A proper and thorough warmup is also crucial for avoiding injury. We can help you develop a warmup routine specific to your individual needs.


Dancers are often uniquely flexible, which allows you to move through beautiful ranges of motion. Flexibility can enhance your speed of movement, increase skill development for extensions, and reduce the risk of injury. However, it is important to focus your stretching on your individual body needs and ensure you are stretching properly. Insufficient flexibility can result in dance injuries that affect your muscles. Stretching beyond a muscle’s appropriate length and tension can increase the likelihood of injury as joint capsules and ligaments are not designed to stretch. Muscles will start to feel tight and painful as your body attempts to do something it is not ready for. A dance medicine physical therapist can teach you stretching techniques that will properly lengthen the muscle, increase agility and grace, and improve efficiency of movement.

Conditioning & Nutrition

A dancer needs proper nutrition and hydration. Inappropriate caloric intake results in muscle weakness, reduced heart rate, impaired bone health, and delayed healing. Additionally, a dancer also needs an adequate cross-training schedule that allows for appropriate rest, cardiovascular training, and exercises that support skill development. A dance medicine physical therapist can provide conditioning and nutrition concepts that will help prevent future injuries and allow for maximum performance.

Physical Therapy for Dancers, Amy Werner, DPT

A good dance physical therapist takes into account your whole body, and how every muscle works together to create the beautiful art of dance. Whether you just recently injured yourself, or you simply want to become a stronger and more effective dancer, Amy Werner works with you, one-on-one, to heal and strengthen your body.

As a Doctor of Physical Therapy specialized in Dance Medicine, Amy brings specialized treatment skills to every patient. It is this attention to detail of movement, combined with her training as a dancer, that uniquely qualifies her to help the Portland Oregon metro area dancers stay strong and healthy.

Here at New Heights Physical Therapy Plus, we are committed to professional and compassionate dance physical therapy. We fully understand the daily challenges associated with dancing, and we are here to help you in any way we can!

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Dance Medicine in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

Seeing Patients in the following Portland and Vancouver areas:

SE Portland | NE Portland | Gresham | Happy Valley | Clackamas | Milwaukie | Mt Tabor | Belmont | Lloyd Center | Laurelhurst | Hollywood District | Downtown Portland | Beaverton | Tigard | Hillsboro | Cedar Mill | Cornell | Sylvan | Cedar Hills Downtown Vancouver | Fruit Valley | Hazel Dell | Felida | Cascade Park | Camas Washington