No such thing as a bad dancer?

It makes us move but we all do it differently. Extroverts move their bodies the most; they’re energetic and enthusiastic and they want to get the job done. Neurotic individuals are sharper, the movements of their hands and feet are jerky – a style that might be recognised as the “shuffle”. Agreeable personalities are smoother, making use of the space by moving side to side. Open-minded people tend to make rhythmic up-and-down movements, and don’t move around as much as most of the others….. It is known to stir up powerful emotions in people and these feelings are expressed in bodily movement on the dance floor as the music blares. Each personality type is associated with a different pattern of movement characteristics. We use body motions as trustworthy indicators of others’ personality types (Luck et al., 2010).

bad-dancerIn much the same way as music makes us move, pain can change the way we move. That is pain arising from muscles, ligaments, bones or joints can alter the way we move (Hodges & Smeets, 2015). For runners there isn’t a fine line between fitness and injury: There is no line. We float between being unable to walk to running freely without pain – even when “injury-free” we’re managing, weaknesses, imbalances and the stresses of the running itself. But we’re less than perfect living in a less-than-perfect world, and the very process of getting stronger involves enduring a level of injury. A body in pain moves differently, and while initially this change can offer relief, it may actually contribute to pain that lasts for months or years. Even if pain is fleeting (minutes to hours), changes in the way we move are thought to protect us from further injury by restricting the movement of the damaged body part. Moving differently for a drawn out period of time affects the loading on the body and the body part that was initially injured. At this stage of pain causes changes in the brain that are similar to when learning a new movement skill, the brain is learning to move differently (Pascual-Leone et al., 1994; Pascual-Leone et al., 1995) This may in turn lead to persistent or recurrent pain that is perhaps only interrupted by short periods that are pain-free – an existence that so many runners experience.

But both runners and health care providers tend to be reactive in nature. Runners seek help only when they’re hurting and too many practitioners are only interested in healing injuries rather than prevention. Yes, running injuries are caused by running but that doesn’t mean we should stop, we just need to minimise the risk and find the best way of doing it – a way that suits us.


Hodges PW & Smeets RJ. (2015). Interaction between pain, movement, and physical activity: short-term benefits, long-term consequences, and targets for treatment. Clin J Pain 31, 97-107.


Luck G, Saarikallio S, Burger B, Thompson MR & Toiviainen P. (2010). Effects of the Big Five and musical genre on music-induced movement. Journal of Research in Personality 44, 714-720.


Pascual-Leone A, Grafman J & Hallett M. (1994). Modulation of cortical motor output maps during development of implicit and explicit knowledge. Science 263, 1287-1289.


Pascual-Leone A, Nguyet D, Cohen LG, Brasil-Neto JP, Cammarota A & Hallett M. (1995). Modulation of muscle responses evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation during the acquisition of new fine motor skills. J Neurophysiol 74, 1037-1045.


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I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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