Dance Physiotherapy

Brisbane Dance Physio

Dance, especially ballet, is a particularly unique pursuit, where dancers are referred to as ‘performing athletes’. So, who better to treat dance related injuries and conditions, and optimise your performance, than a qualified and experienced Physio in the field; someone who can understand the demands placed on a dancer’s body. We aim to get you back on stage, and into the studio as soon as possible, so you can keep doing what you love.

The majority of dance injuries can be classified as ‘overuse injuries’. They commonly occur in the foot and ankle. Related to the volume of training, and the repetitive nature of dance, small niggles can develop into more time consuming concerns; such as stress-related or chronic injuries.

A ballet dancer performing exercise on a pilates reformer while in a dance physiotherapy appointment with Dr Melanie Fuller
Melanie Fuller checking the pointe range of a professional ballet dancer during a dance physio session

Injury prevention should be at the forefront of all dancer’s minds, and the parents of young dancers. Our Dance Physio, Melanie’s PhD research investigated injury prevention in dance. The one thing better than a cure is the prevention of getting it in the first place. If you’re dealing with pain or a niggle that is lasting more than a week, come and see us sooner rather than later. The added benefit can be that early intervention often positively influences your performance too!

Delayed rehabilitation and improper management of an injury can induce a long term effect on the dancer, including a setback on being able to return to training and performing. We understand and share your passion for dance, which is why we know that time away is the last thing you want. Our Dance Physio, Melanie, will biomechanically profile a dancer’s body to determine where the problem is developing from. In some cases, it can be an issue with strength, a change in training, foot posture, stance posture or muscle imbalance. Other common injuries we see in dancers are:

  • Posterior ankle pain / impingement 
  • Stress reactions and fractures of the foot and lower spine 
  • Ankle sprains 
  • Snapping hip syndrome, and anterior hip pain

We Offer Pre-Pointe & Tertiary Dance Assessments

Transitioning onto en pointe, or applying for dance schools can require an assessment to be completed by an experienced Physiotherapist. Book your assessment with us today!

Additional Dance Physio Services

We provide a full encompassing range of services for dancers. Including injury management and prevention, pre-pointe, risk profiling and tertiary assessments, performance enhancement, pilates and full body assessments with our world-leading VALD technology.

Pre-Pointe Assessment

The transition to training en pointe is an exciting time in any dancer’s development. A pre-pointe assessment evaluates a dancer’s readiness to start training and performing en pointe, which often encompasses other progressions in a young dancer’s training development. This preparedness depends on various factors including age, growth, training history, pointe range, foot and ankle control, intrinsic foot and calf strength, pelvic/trunk control and ballet technique. It is also such a good opportunity to provide young dancers with education about their body, and other aspects of health and wellbeing to optimise this transition in training.

Your pre-pointe assessment will identify any areas of the body that may need strength work to optimise transitioning onto pointe. During the assessment, areas that are looked at include: 

  • Postural assessment 
  • Functional assessment specific to ballet
  • Foot and ankle strength/mobility 
  • Lower limb strength and control of trunk with movement 
  • Turn out control and strength

Depending on the outcome of your pre-pointe assessment, most dancer’s will follow an individualised exercise program, and be provided with education on their health and wellbeing. Programs are custom-designed for each individual and focus on identified areas to optimise this exciting transition to training en pointe. 

We can also provide pointe shoe recommendations. Appointment duration is 1 hour. 

Melanie Fuller checking the feet of a ballet dancer during a Dance Physio appointment
Melanie Fuller and a professional ballet dancer during a dance physiotherapy appointment

Tertiary Dance Assessment / Risk Profile Assessment

A formal Tertiary Dance Council Assessment is a prerequisite for the many Australian and overseas dance schools; including QUT, New Zealand School of Dance, the Victorian College of the Arts, and WAAPA. It can also be necessary for those starting a contract that requires a pre-employment assessment, and beneficial for anyone about to transition to full-time training, or taking their dance training more seriously. Our Dance Physio, Melanie’s PhD research investigated injuries to transition to full-time training.

Generally, the form needs to be completed and included in your application process when applying for some dance programs. The assessment evaluates a dancer’s readiness to take on a full-time dancing schedule. It’s an assessment of current or previous injuries and a clinical assessment of the body including strength, posture, trunk control, muscle function and flexibility to name a few.

Appointment duration is 1 hour.

Performance Assessments with World-Leading VALD Technology

If you’re not assessing, you’re guessing! A Dance Performance Assessment using our VALD technology provides detailed insight into your body’s performance, potential injury risk and rehabilitation. 

This VALD technology is trusted by over 850 of the world’s most elite sporting teams, universities and defence departments. The Royal Ballet School also currently utilises the same technology to regularly test their students to track and monitor neuromuscular strength and provide detailed insight into injury rehabilitation. The VALD technology can be used to monitor your progress on a regular basis, and guide injury rehabilitation objectively driven by data.

During your Dance Performance Assessment at QSMC, we use the technology to: 

  • Measure strength in all of your major muscle groups 
  • Calculate the power and performance that your muscles produce during jumping actions
  • Identify any areas of weakness or imbalance 
  • Identify and analyse possible injury risk factors (discrepancies in strength, range and power) 

Unlike other data analysis systems, the VALD performance technology provides real-time feedback and results. This means you’re receiving detailed insight during your appointment. Appointment duration is 1 hour.

Royal Ballet School students receiving testing on the VALD ForceDecks equipment
Screenshot from The Royal Ballet School’s ‘Healthy Dancer Programme’ film.

Ongoing Dancer Monitoring Services

Our Ongoing Dancer Monitoring Service will involve physical and strength tests at various intervals throughout the year to track your progression. This service is an opportunity for dancers to ‘check in’ with Melanie and discuss the periodisation of continued training and development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please wear comfortable attire, possibly your dance gear, so that your feet are visible and we can see how you move. You could bring in your dance shoes (e.g. pointe shoes, chorus heels), especially if you feel they contribute to your presenting concern.

Yes, of course! Whether you dance for fun, exercise or to pursue a career, we cater to all your dance-related needs. We want you to enjoy a lifetime of dance. Our in-house Dance Physio, Melanie, has experience in treating dancers of all abilities, from beginners to those on the professional tour from The Australian Ballet. 

We generally recommend booking in for your pre-pointe assessment 2-3 months before commencing pre-pointe training. This allows sufficient time to optimise identified areas.

Book a Dance Physiotherapy Appointment

Book an appointment with our Dance Physio today! You can make an appointment* online via our booking system, or contact our friendly reception team on the details below. 

*If booking online – Dance Performance Assessments, Pre-pointe Assessments and Tertiary Dance Assessments need to be booked as an extended (1 hour) appointment in our booking system. Please leave a note when making an online booking to let us know that you would like one of these assessments. Thank you.*

Bowen Hills Clinic

16 Thompson Street, Bowen Hills

Woolloongabba Clinic

812 Stanley Street, Woolloongabba

The Show Must Go On

Very few injuries require complete rest from dancing. Our goal is to keep you training in some shape or form while your injury recovers so you can continue doing what you love.

Meet Our Dance Physio

Headshot of Dr Melanie Fuller treating a ballet dancer's ankle

Melanie Fuller

Sports & Exercise and Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist
PhD Injury Prevention in Dance

Melanie joins the QSMC team as a highly experienced and qualified Sports & Exercise Physiotherapist, and a Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist. She has also completed a PhD in Injury Prevention in Dance. Mel brings to the clinic 14 years of experience working with professional to recreational dancers, across all styles of dance. She works casually as a touring Physio for The Australian Ballet. Not only that, but she has also been the inhouse Physiotherapist for numerous touring musicals and dance companies, including: 

  • Matilda – The Musical 
  • Ballet Preljocaj 
  • Wicked – The Musical 
  • Grease – The Musical 
  • Mary Poppins – The Musical
  • Paris Opera Ballet
  • Queensland Ballet
  • Expressions Dance Company (now Australasian Dance Collective)

Before undertaking her Exercise Science and Physiotherapy university education, Melanie taught dance for many years. She has completed her Royal Academy of Dance Advanced Certificate (Advanced II) and has an Advanced Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance) from the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Melanie is a leading expert in her field and often presents nationally and internationally.

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