Treatment and Management of Ankle Injuries in Dancers

Dr. James Walters

When it comes to injuries that professional dancers experience, James D. Walters, DC, has firsthand experience of how crucial it is for these artists to access appropriate care in order to return to their craft. Before becoming a chiropractor, Dr. Walters earned a BFA in dance from the University of Buffalo and went on to do both concert and commercial work, dancing a variety of styles ranging from theater to classical ballet. Besides performing, he worked as a dance teacher, choreographer and stage combat coordinator. He changed directions in 2019 when he graduated from New York Chiropractic College. Today, he serves as ACA’s affiliate director for the New York State Chiropractic Association (NYSCA) and NYSCA District 15 president. But dance and dance injuries continue to be a special interest area that Dr. Walters enjoys sharing with his colleagues.

At Engage 2023, Dr. Walters will explore a common condition in the dance world in “Treatment and Management of Ankle Injuries in Dancers.” Below, the ACA Blog learns more about what doctors can expect from his Engage 2023 program.

How is the topic you are presenting at Engage 2023 relevant to today’s chiropractor?

This topic is relevant to today’s chiropractor as it addresses a highly specialized and unique patient population that very few continuing education programs focus on. Dancers are a population of whom most healthcare providers across all fields tend to have very limited knowledge.

What first made you interested in this topic?

I have been a part of the dance industry since I was eight years old, with 25 years of experience and 15 years performing professionally. I have worked as a performer, choreographer, stunt coordinator and ballet master for multiple professional dance companies. I have seen, through my own experiences and those of my dance colleagues, the lack of specialized knowledge amongst healthcare providers.

The result of this is that many dancers end up receiving sub-par care, which often draws out their recovery time or ends their careers outright. This has caused a gap to form between performing artists and healthcare providers. On the healthcare provider side, there is a gap in knowledge and opportunities to learn how to treat and manage this highly specialized patient population. On the performing artists’ side, there is a gap in trust. Many performing artists will only go to healthcare providers as a last resort because they feel that they will not be understood or listened to, or that they will be told to simply stop performing.

My mission is to help close this gap on both sides by educating healthcare providers on how to treat artists, as well as educating artists on how to better understand and communicate their needs.

What practical knowledge or skills can attendees take away from your presentation?

My presentation will help attendees understand common ankle injuries that dancers experience and how these injuries occur specifically due to dance. Attendees will learn how to approach treatment as well as rehab protocols specifically designed for dancers. Attendees will also learn about dance culture as it relates to training and the vast diversity of dance techniques and styles that further complicate how ankle injuries occur among dancers.

How will what attendees take away make them better doctors?

Starting Monday morning after my program, it will help attendees be better providers by giving them tangible methods, exercises and approaches to treating dancers with ankle injuries.

What benefits do you gain from attending ACA Engage?  

What I look forward to at each Engage conference is three-fold: I get to advocate on behalf of my patients to help them gain better access to conservative care; I get to spend time with friends and colleagues that I only see once a year; and of course I get to learn from my colleagues and see them present on topics unique to their experiences.

Want to learn more? Plan to attend Dr. Walters’ presentation at Engage 2023. Click here to view the ACA Engage schedule and all that the program has to offer. Click here for conference details and to register!