Pre-hab with Josie and Ashlea

Pre-hab Interview with Company Physiotherapist Ashlea Mary Cohen

13 February 2017

What is pre-hab?
Pre-hab is a protective approach to avoid pain and injury. It involves exercises that improve and maintain spinal mobility, enhance muscle strength & endurance, proprioception and joint control.

What is the importance of pre-hab, specifically for dancers?
Pre-hab training allows dancers to take control of their physical well-being. It provides them with direction and a greater insight into their own physical capabilities. Dancers become aware of changes in their bodies (eg: joint stiffness, muscle pain), which can be addressed earlier with physiotherapy assessment and treatment so as to reduce the risk and/or severity of injury.

It also allows dancers to complete specific exercises based on their own needs as opposed to a generalised exercise regime. This is particularly beneficial for dancers with a history of repetitive injuries, as a tailored program can be focused to reduce the risk of re-injury.

What does a typical pre-hab program involve?
Pre-hab programs are customised to each individual dancer. Each program involves a mobility and strength component as well as a cardiovascular training regime. Programs are developed with specific consideration of current dance loads, repertoire, travel requirements and injury history.

Is there time set aside for Dancers to complete pre-hab training of a day?
Yes. The dancers are extremely lucky to have time set aside each day to undertake their pre-hab training programs. Once a week physiotherapy supervision is also provided so feedback can be given to each dancer and exercises’ upgraded if required.

Can everyone benefit from pre-hab?
Absolutely! Prevention is the key. Anyone can undertake a pre-hab program no matter what sport they participate in. The key to a successful program is ensuring it is developed by a health professional in order for appropriate exercise prescription to be provided.

What are some of your pre-hab long-term goals for Company dancers?
During performances in 2016, overuse injuries in the dancers became apparent. The main goal since initiating pre-hab programs is to reduce the number of these injuries. This will in turn reduce time away from dance and at worst missed performances.

The dancers also have an intense travel schedule this year. Reducing the risk of injury on tour is paramount. By providing programs that each dancer can access online whilst away will hopefully reduce the number of injuries.


About Ashlea Mary Cohen

Ashlea Cohen

Ashlea Mary Cohen was awarded a Masters in Physiotherapy from Sydney University in 2012, and achieved a Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise & Sport Science/Masters of Nursing) in 2009. She has completed a Graduate Certificate of Sports Physiotherapy in 2015 and is currently undertaking her Masters of Sports Physiotherapy/Masters of Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy through La Trobe University.

Ashlea Mary has an interest in the prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and sports injuries. Her love of dance and the arts has seen her gain employment as a Physiotherapist with musical theatre and dance productions in Sydney: Les Miserables (2015), Anything Goes (2015), Belgium Dance Company, Sydney Tour (2015), Mark Morris Dance Company (2015), Fiddler on the Roof (2016), We Will Rock You (2016) and My Fair Lady (2016). In July 2016, Ashlea became Company Physiotherapist for Sydney Dance Company and Bangarra Dance Theatre.

Ashlea Mary is Owner and Director of ‘Peak Performance Physiotherapy’ in Gymea. Dancers and sporting individuals are all welcome.


Click here to read our next Pre-hab interview with Company dancer Josephine Weise and Nelson Earl.

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