Finding a Physical Therapist: Advice for Dancers From Broadway’s PTs

Finding a physical therapist that understands the unique needs of dancers can be quite the journey. 

Not only does your physical therapist need to understand the unique demands you place on your body. But your physical therapist needs to understand the unique demands placed on you.

As dancers, we are often expected to deal with injuries swiftly and completely. 

Finding a physical therapist that understands your need to heal well, while also understanding that you may need to return to the stage (or rehearsal) sooner rather than later is invaluable. 


In fact, studies have shown that dancers whose injuries are diagnosed by physicians are more likely to miss class than those diagnosed by PTs. 

And, no it’s not because doctor’s know something that physical therapists don’t. Quite the contrary. 

Physical therapists who work with dancers understand the psychosocial element of injuries for dancers. Their goal is to help dancers lose as little time as possible, while keeping them safely progressing in their recovery journey. 


We know that finding a physical therapist like this can be a challenge. So we decided to go straight to the source: Physical Therapists. 

That’s right, we interviewed four physical therapists from Broadway’s Mims Method Physical Therapy in NYC. 

These PTs work to keep Broadway’s performers injury, and pain free 8 shows a week. They even work backstage at the theatres at shows like “How to Dance in Ohio,” “Back to the Future,” and “Chicago” – just to name a few!

Today they’re giving their best advice for finding a physical therapist as a dance athlete. 


Let’s dive in. 


During the process of finding a physical therapist, are there any red flags dancers should be aware of?

The vast number of PTs out there, is one of the biggest challenges of finding a physical therapist you can trust. 

The most resounding piece of advice the Mims Method team had for dancers was to find a physical therapist that wasn’t seeing multiple patients during one session – otherwise known as one-on-one care. 


This is for a couple of reasons: 

“Once you’re in the room with your PT, you should feel listened to and that your PT understands the goals you’re trying to reach.” – Mims Method Founder, Brittney Mims

Being listened to and understood is only the first benefit to one-on-one care. 

Chris Falciano, one of the DPTs at Mims put it this way, 

“I’d suggest making sure that your clinician isn’t juggling multiple patients at a time. For high-quality rehab, you want someone who is paying attention and focusing specifically on you and how you move.”


When your physical therapist is able to put 100% of their focus on you for your entire session, they have the ability to fine tune and tailor your training as they watch you move. 

On top of that, you have access to ask them whatever questions you may have – which leads us to Kate Besong’s advice for dancers finding a physical therapist:  

“It is totally appropriate for your PT to heavily focus on “non-dance” movements. [But] Even if they are not “fluent” in the language of whatever style(s) of dance you train in, your PT should always be able to connect what you’re doing to your functional needs as a dancer. You should always be able to ask questions like “why am I doing this?” or “how will this help me?” and the PT should be able to give you a logical answer that’s fairly easy to follow.”


If you’re PT isn’t able to tell you the why behind your training, that’s signal to take a closer look. 

Just like your training at Dancers Who Lift, your physical therapy might not look like dance at all. But, just like your trainers at DWL, your physical therapist should be able to explain how this movement will help you recover from your injury, and help you as you dance.


Dan Ginader, well known for his TikTok, @Dr. Dan_D.P.T., mentions that finding a physical therapist who works with athletes is key. 

“You should be wary of any PT that does not have a “sports focus”. You don’t necessarily need to see someone who works with dancers on a regular basis, but you definitely want a PT that works with athletes.”


Because dancers are athletes, and the sooner we start training and treating ourselves as such, the stronger and more resilient we will become. 


What are questions we should ask to determine if our PT is a good fit for us as dancer athletes?

Part of finding a physical therapist you can trust is knowing what kind of questions to ask. 

These questions tend to fall into three categories: Session expectations, Injury specific, and Personal. 


Session Expectations

How long will my sessions be? 

Will you be seeing other patients at the same time?

How much time will I spend with my therapist at each session? 

Will I be working with a trainer or aide for the other portion of treatment?

What does a typical session look like at this facility? 

As for this last question, the trainers at Mims recommend physical therapy sessions that combine manual therapy and strength training. 


Injury Specific

What is my therapist’s experience with _____?  Fill in with specific injury, age, hyper-mobility, style of movement/dance/etc

Are you familiar with EDS and/or hyper-mobility?

How do you communicate with a team (Doctors, coaches, instructors) to ensure a coordinated approach to my recovery?

(This last one is especially important if your injury requires surgery, worker’s comp, etc.!)


Personal (Person Specific)

Do you work with a lot of athletes or active people?

Have you worked with athletes who perform at a competitive level before?

Are you familiar with my style(s) of dance training/performance?


Now, none of these questions are necessary deal breakers.

For example, just because your physical therapist works with mostly ballet dancers, doesn’t mean they’re incapable of helping you, a modern/contemporary dancer who specializes in floor-work.

It does mean that you’ll need to advocate for your needs clearly as you progress in your recovery.

 For example,

“I feel stronger doing ___ but when I do floor-work I’m noticing __. Can we take a look at that?”


A good physical therapist loves feedback. 

They’ll want to know how you felt in your classes earlier this week. They’ll ask questions and have you show them things. 

The more information the better, because their goal is to get you back to your normal – or better! 



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What’s your best advice to a dancer dealing with an injury?

While each and every physical therapist we spoke to hoped we’d come visit them at Mims Method in NYC, they know that there are tons of great PTs out there. (And that not everyone lives in NYC)

So, for any dancer in the process of finding a physical therapist, or even already working with one, remember these tips from Brittney Mims:

  • Strength Training is your friend. You will only become a better dancer the stronger you are. (No, we did not pay her to say this!!) 
  • “RICE” is outdated- throw the ice away and do a little dive into “PEACE & LOVE” instead 
  • Optimism is shown in research studies to improve speed and quality of healing, so don’t spiral! You’ve got this and you’ll be okay!

finding a physical therapist

And finally, let this final tip from Chris soak in: 

“Be patient. Give yourself a lot of grace and keep your mindset in a positive place.”

It’s so easy to spiral as injured dancers. Not only are our jobs often on the line when we are injured, but we become separated from our community. 

This separation can be surprisingly painful, even if it’s just for a short while. Let yourself feel it, but don’t lose hope!

With a good PT on your side, you’ll be dancing again in no time. 


Be Patient

Much like healing from an injury, finding a physical therapist you click with can take time. But with grace and patience you’ll get to where you’re going. 

It took me years to find a physical therapist I loved. 

But you know how I did it? I asked for help. 

If you’re part of the Dancers Who Lift community and you’re in the process of finding a physical therapist, ask the Facebook group or chat thread for recommendations in your area. 

When you’re at auditions, ask your friends who they see. Ask your trainer if they have someone they recommend. 

And If you’re in NYC, definitely go check out the team at Mims Method here!


Just remember, what works for someone else might not work for you, and that’s okay.

As long as you’re working with someone who understands your goals, understands your injury, and is ready to give their full focus to your care, you’re in good shape. 


Want more tips from Physical Therapists?

Tune in every other week this spring for tips from these dance physical therapy experts. 

You’ll hear about common dance injuries and how to avoid them. 

We’re talking all the things your PT wishes you knew. 

We’re even dropping exclusive emails with physical therapy exercises from a different member of the Mims Method team each week!

You won’t want to miss this series! Opt-in for these exclusive exercises here! 


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