Taking Care of Circus Artist Health

chiro2(1)If you were able to see our most recent performance, Eclipse, you can imagine what it might be like trying to get this group to sit down and have a conversation…
They arrive like a tornado. They put up their set, rehearse, sleep, perform, repeat. There isn’t room for much else.  Their show is extremely physically taxing, perhaps with the most high-energy acrobatics of any of our shows.

chiro2(2)They did make time though before one of their shows at the end of last week as they heard our recently touring friend, Chiropractic Dr. Anthony Close, was coming by to visit. The team quickly left practice and lined up!

Setting up shop in Phare Café, Dr. Close treated 14 performers, plus the coach and even our translator in just under 2 hours! It was an assembly line of issues and Dr. Close observed some obvious trends in our performers injuries. Treatment after treatment Dr. Close observed tight, over-worked lower back muscles and strained shoulders in more than half of our artists. The diagnosis? Uneven opposing muscle development.

chiro2(3)Simply put, this means that our artists do way more pushing than they do pulling. Different muscles are required for different activities and our circus acrobats do an enormous amount of pushing with muscles on the front of their upper bodies doing handstands, handsprings, partner holds and dynamic tumbling. However, this neglects the muscles on the back of the upper body, which are used more for pulling. When one of these muscle groups gets significantly stronger than the other, it can put the athlete’s joints at risk of injury. Who knew being strong had its risks? It turns out we need to be evenly strong. We need to do as many pull-ups as we do push-ups!

chiro2(4)Other highlights of the visit included constant laughter regarding the seemingly endless amount of cracking and popping sounds coming from the artists as they were adjusted by Dr. Close, one after another!

The afternoon visit concluded with an interesting turn of events…

It hadn’t gone unnoticed by some of our stronger, more competitive artists that Dr. Close had done his own share of strength training. And, measuring in at 191 centimeters and more than twice the weight of some of our smaller performers, a couple of our guys lined-up to see if the big “barang” was as strong as he looked.

Who won? Well, we’ll just say it was a fun match to watch. Speaking of which, come by and see Eclipse when they’re back later this month, or catch Khmer Metal as they’re starting back up with their riveting show… Siem Reap’s number 1 performance for your evening entertainment, Phare, the Cambodian Circus.


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