Intended for healthcare professionals


Justin Howse

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 28 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2048
  1. Ned Stafford
  1. ns{at}

Orthopaedist for dancers

The year was 1970, and Justin Howse was examining a teenage girl auditioning for the Royal Ballet School in London. When Howse, orthopaedic consultant to the Royal Ballet, checked her feet for strength and flexibility, he did not approve. He believed that the root cause of injury to dancers was faulty technique.

“He was dressed in his usual grey suit and extremely frightening,” recalls Moira McCormack, the girl who was auditioning and who now is head of physiotherapy at the Royal Ballet. “He ordered me to ‘point’ my feet properly.” And she adds: “I have been showing young dancers to do the same ever since I qualified as a physiotherapist.”

McCormack is just one of many clinicians working today with dancers who have been influenced by Howse’s work. As a doctor to dancers, Howse’s primary focus was to prevent injury. If injury did occur, he advocated proper rehabilitation to avoid re-injury.

“He felt that dancers needed specialist knowledge and treatment and was the first in this country …

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