Pioneering research by the University of Wolverhampton has shown that lack of sunlight can impair the performance of elite ballet dancers.
Experts from the University have been looking at how professionals who train indoors during the winter exhibit low vitamin D levels, through lack of sunlight exposure.
The project has found that this lack has been linked to impaired muscle strength and a predisposition to injury.
As a result, experts discovered that by taking vitamin D supplements, dancers showed signs of great improvements in jump performance and muscle strength.
Now this and other work carried out by the University’s Dance Science team will help treat injured dancers at a new dance rehab clinic in Birmingham, by the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS).
The Birmingham facility will be only the second ever NHS specialist dance injury clinic in the country, following the success of the London clinic at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.
The NIDMS, which was launched in April 2012, is a partnership of organisations which study dance health and injuries and aims to provide a radical new approach to dancers’ healthcare.
They partners are: Dance UK, Birmingham Royal Ballet’s Jerwood Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Dance Injuries, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, University of Wolverhampton, University of Birmingham and the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.
Along with the research carried out by each partner, the NIDMS has opened an NHS-based rehab clinic at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH) in London.
It aims to provide access for all dancers to high quality, evidence-based, dance specific healthcare and dance science services, and fosters research into dance injuries, education for dancers, teachers and scientists, while also offering specialist treatment for dancers.
Now, more than 18 months on, a second NIDMS rehab clinic is being opened in Birmingham, to provide new and expanding health and support services for dancers in the Midlands.
The new centre was officially opened on Friday, November 29, at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, Birmingham.
And, as a result of the University of Wolverhampton’s studies, dancers will be scanned and treated for vitamin D deficiencies at the clinic.
Professor Matthew Wyon, head of dance science at the University of Wolverhampton – who carried out the study with Dr Roger Wolman, Consultant in Rheumatology and Sport and Exercise Medicine at the RNOH – explained the findings.
He said: “Vitamin D is important for bone development and has a wide range of functions. In a deficient state, dancers are at increased risk of bone injuries and this latest research indicates an increased risk of muscle injury, which can be detrimental to their health and their careers.
“In a population known to be at risk of these deficiencies, such as ballet dancers, medical staff and teachers should consider supplying their dancers with appropriate levels of vitamin D whilst training indoors to help them build on their core muscle strengths to avoid injury. These findings could also be extrapolated to cover other sports and training activities that take place indoors.”
For more information please contact Chris Jones in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322736