Keep Your Performing Bones Healthy

It's Not Just Your Grandmother's Problem!

standing foot xray bone health

Bone health is incredibly important for everyone. But, this is especially true for performing and production artists. Poor bone structure can lead to stress fractures, osteoporosis, and other bone conditions. These are not just problems for your grandmother! Almost everyone can be at risk for poor bone health.

Several factors put performers generally at higher risk of skeletal problems, and dancers most of all. The high percentage of females in dance and their frequent focus on body image brings other challenges. These include the related issues of low energy availability from a restricted diet, low body weight, and menstrual irregularities, all of which are inter-related and contribute to lowered bone density…

In addition, because performers and technical production personnel spend so much time inside, they usually do not get the sun exposure required to naturally develop vitamin D in their skin (a process that the sun stimulates). Now that it’s winter in the northern hemisphere, this is an extra big problem. Vitamin D is crucial to depositing calcium in the bones, thus strengthening them. Exercise also is very helpful for stronger bones because bones increase their mass in the presence of physical activity’s impact on the skeleton.

Why You Need Healthy Bones

The skeletal system has five important functions. Keeping your bones in good shape by proper nutrition and exercise will help avoid compromising this important physical foundation:

  1. Framework: Without the structure the skeleton provides, you would be a pile of jelly on the floor. Enough said.
  2. Protection: Good thing you have ribs that shield your lungs and heart, a skull that wraps around your brain, and a vertebral column that encases your spinal cord. Enough said times two.
  3. Lever mechanics: When muscles contract, they pull on tendons. The tendons are attached to levers—a.k.a. bones—and pull on them. Then the joints allow the movements required to execute choreography, build stage sets, play an instrument…anything that requires motion.
  4. Mineral storage: The bones by their very composition are an important depot for minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Bone is active, living tissue, and these minerals are stored or transported as needed.
  5. Red blood cell production: Red marrow resides inside certain bones, and it produces red blood cells, which are the oxygen carrying components of blood. Definitely need those!

It’s easy to see, then, that poor bone health affects more than the bones themselves. A lot is at risk! In addition to eating properly, consult your physician for assessment of your vitamin D status and other aspects of a healthy skeleton.

More info on bone health is available from the National Institutes of Health: https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/bone_health_for_life.asp

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