Ballet dancer fixing ballet shoes as part of performance athletes

Dancers, gymnasts, cheerleaders, and figure skaters are all related in that they rely on the demand of their body to be mobile, flexible and controlled. To achieve and maintain peak performance, these individuals often turn to several training mechanisms to achieve their goals and enhance their capabilities. These athletes are often pushing the limits of their bodies to combine the art of their sport with the athleticism which requires mobility, agility, balance and strength all at the same time and can often increase the risk of injury or pain. Osteopathic treatment can provide several benefits for these individuals to enhance performance in a holistic manner by assisting in mobility and flexibility, improving alignment which will reduce the risk of injury. 

Enhancing mobility and flexibility 

Artistic athletes such as, dancers, gymnasts, cheerleaders and figure skaters often have a demand for flexibility to achieve elements and tricks amongst their routines. Osteopathy aims to identify and address imbalances, restrictions or dysfunctions that may hinder optimal function of the body. Osteopathic manual practitioners look at the body holistically for factors that may be limiting the range of motion, identify the muscle imbalances, joint restrictions and connective tissues tightness that may influence the individual’s peak performance. Understanding that the body dynamically functions in where each part of the body affects the whole; no part of the body works in isolation. The osteopathic manual practitioner will use a hands-on-approach utilizing osteopathic principles and techniques such as gentle manipulations, joint mobilizations, soft tissue principles, myofascial release and stretching. Assessing and addressing any restrictions present in the body within the joints, muscles and surrounding tissues will allow for optimal movement of the body to execute and perform the intricate movements with precision, ease, and strength. 

Prevention and Recovery 

Working with an osteopathic manual practitioner is important for performance but it is also beneficial to reduce the risk of overuse and injury for these athletes. Alleviating these restrictions and imbalances present amongst the body holistically can allow for optimal fluid flow, nerve connection and muscle activation. Osteopathic treatment can help restore the range of motion caused by an acute or a chronic overuse or injury. 

Working with your osteopathic manual practitioners entails one on one individualized treatment that meets your body’s specific needs that day as well as personalized treatment plans to support the individual. 

More than just the physical component 

Osteopathic treatment is a holistic approach entailing a full body assessment and treatment to maintain overall well-being of the entire body and all body systems connecting body and mind. Osteopathic manual practitioners not only consider the physical aspects for these athletes but also the emotional component; whether it is managing emotion during performance or the stress and anxiety in or off season. Osteopathy can be helpful in reducing sympathetic tone, ‘fight or flight response’, to better manage emotions, stress & anxiety, performance and promote overall health and vitality. This would allow these athletes to remain focus, reduce any brain fog and anxiousness as Osteopathic treatment works very closely with the nervous system to bring homeostasis to the body. 

Osteopathy has significant benefits for these individuals involved in activities such as dance, gymnastics, cheerleading and figure skating. Enhancing their mobility and flexibility will allow for optimal performance through improved range of motion and strength and reduce the risk of injury. When proper alignment and balance is restored amongst the whole body, the body is in a healthy environment to self-heal and self-regulate and work optimally. Balance also allows reduction in tensions and injury as the tissues of the body can correctly perform its job throughout the body with limited obstruction. By addressing joint restrictions, muscle imbalances, and injuries, osteopathic manual practitioners can help unlock full potential and overall performance. 

Jenna grew up as a competitive dancer since a young age and continued throughout University on the University of Waterloo dance Team. After enduring her own fair share of injuries and wanting to better her overall health she received Osteopathic treatment at a young age and has never looked back. She has first-hand experience the benefits of Osteopathy with Injury prevention and rehabilitation. This motivated her to become an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner herself to provide and help individuals in ways she has been able to be helped. Jenna takes the time to understand what each individual needs – the sport of the athlete, the demand on their bodies mentally and physically and establish an individualized treatment plan. 

If you are interested in exploring the benefits of Osteopathy, book your initial osteopathic treatment appointment online today. If you have any questions prior to booking, you may book a free 15-minute consultation call with our practitioners for the next steps!

Meet our Osteopathic Practitioners


Patrick Suwala

Patrick Suwala

Patrick Suwala graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo in 2015 and then committed to an additional four years of osteopathic education at the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy in Hamilton and graduated with a Master in Practice of Osteopathic Manipulative Sciences designation (M. OMSc.) from the school at the end of 2020.

Throughout his undergrad at the University of Waterloo, Patrick found his passion in learning the anatomy and physiology of the human body, and for four years he was a volunteer teaching assistant in the human cadaver labs on campus, teaching first year students and many external visitors, including graduate-level manual therapy students about the musculoskeletal structures of the human body.

Patrick quickly grew an appreciation for the art and science of the field of manual therapy through extracurriculars like swimming and playing waterpolo competitively, and decided that this was the right avenue for him to pursue.

Patrick also helps supervise student clinic and teach at the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy in Hamilton.

Patrick belongs to the Ontario Osteopathic Association (OOA/OSTCAN) and is therefore recognized across all insurance providers in Ontario because of the association’s high standards.

Jenna Labranche

Jenna Labranche
Jenna earned her Master in Practice of Osteopathic Manipulative Sciences Diploma (M.OMSc) after completing a 4 year program at the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy. Prior to becoming an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner, Jenna completed her undergraduate degree in Bachelor of Science, Honours Kinesiology at The University of Waterloo, earning her R.Kin.
Jenna has a love for sports, fitness, and being outdoors. She has been involved in sports since a young age including being a Competitive Dancer and Rep Softball player. After ongoing injuries and pain with no relief she was then introduced to Osteopathy which changed everything. Her experiences led her into expanding her knowledge of the human body to become an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner.

Serving the town of Milton since 2022, Jenna looks forward to bringing her skills to our team at Zen. Providing a holistic approach using the principles of Osteopathy, manipulation is applied gently to facilitate the body’s ability to self-heal and self-regulate. Through an individualized treatment and the understanding that the body is a dynamic unit of function, Jenna works with the interrelated systems of the body to bring health to the structures for optimal function. Investigating on the ‘why’ there is dysfunction and discover the root cause of the problem.

Combining her love and passion of the human body, being active, and helping others makes being an osteopathic manual practitioner both enjoyable and rewarding. Through extensive knowledge, empathy and understanding, her goal is to get you back to your daily activities and doing what you love!

Book a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your condition and how Osteopathy may be able to help