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Learning Ballet & Continuing to Run


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I'm 24 and just began ballet class last week. My second class is tonight and I can't wait! I really want to do well at ballet. I have a few other sports I'm serious about and want opinions on how to make them all work together. Here they are: I box (use to compete and train to fight, now just for conditioning and fun) twice a week, I do yoga once a week, and I am training for my first marathon (currently up to 28 miles per week to date).


Anything anyone has to offer would be much appreciated!!


Thanks all!

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  • JleaD


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Going to have to think about that one there, JleaD. You've got a real mix of muscles that are contrary to each other, like running and ballet, and I'm not sure it's a good idea to start ballet when you're in training for a marathon, unless you have an excellent ballet teacher who is aware of your other interests.


The Yoga would be complimentary to ballet, and the boxing- well, I'm not a boxer nor have I ever boxed, so I'll wait to see what others have to say about that. :dry:

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Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I'm so excited about ballet, but I don't want to mess up my running :dry: I have shin splints and my instructor and I already talked about what I can do to help with that aspect.


I know ballet will help with boxing, but I'm not sure if boxing will do the same for ballet. Not many woman box, so I know it will be more difficult to find an answer from someone with experiance on that topic.


I'll talk to my instructor more tonight and express my excitment and concern. I've heard she is top-notch, so I hope she'll be able to help me achieve both. If you come accross anything you think may be useful, let me know!


Thank you again!

Edited by Redbookish
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Shin splints, huh? I bet you're a pronator. Get thee to a PT who can help you deal with that issue, and see if I'm right. It can be corrected but it'd be real helpful to know exactly what the issue is. And I'm glad you've got a top-notch instructor! She should also be able to give you some doming exercises and some proprioception exercises to strengthen the correct muscles to help you prevent shin splints. :dry:

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I had a PT from the U of MN watch me run when I was picking out shoes to make sure I didn't need any inserts when I first began my training. He checked for pronation and other bad habits/improper running styles and said everything looked fine, so unfortunately they aren't due to that. However, is it possible to pronate when I do ballet? In that case there would be no inserts, right? :rolleyes: I wonder.


History: I got shin splints from boxing since I jumped rope like a crazy person... on a hard surface. Bad Idea. I've had problems ever since. I got new shoes and they (shins) haven't bothered me too badly even after 8+ miles, which is really good. But, one hour of ballet and there they were. :dry:


So, question re above: Can you pronate when doing ballet the same way you would when you run?

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JleaD, just a quick note to let you know that it is not necessary to quote the last post in your post. Just go down to the FastReply or AddReply buttons, instead of the "Reply. :rolleyes: Thank you!


And yes, you can get shin splints from ballet, if you are pronating. :dry:

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JleaD, I don't now how you manage all you are doing. The thought exhausts me! When I was a teen and dancing I was also a runner. My school loved me as I was pretty good all round and never quite decided if I liked cross country, sprinting, hurdles, you get the picture. Generally, I was good at track and field. A jack of all trades that's for sure.


All this said, I quit very abruptly and was not popular for doing so. I just kept tweaking if not pulling the same muscle over and over again and for me the price became too much to pay. I just couldn't do everything and ballet won out. Was I going to be a star at school or dedicated at the barre with no guarantee of anything close to stardom. It was a no brainer! I wanted ballet and I wanted a career in ballet. Dancers are wonderful atheletes but for me it was a matter of serving only one God. If you can keep all your ###### in the air, go for it. I could not!

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You may be able to help me :dry: I just began Ballet last week (once a week right now and after two classes I already am figuring out how to fit in another one... maybe two!)... point is I saw on your post you say you run too. I'm training for my first marathon and I run a lot. I want to be able to do well at both, but I've heard many dancers (ballet specifically) say these sports don't mix well.


Do you have trouble? Any tips for me as I start out? I don't want to form bad habits early on. Any advise is appreciated.




You give me too much credit as someone who knows something about this. I dance once a week -- have done so for maybe 5-6 years -- and only very recently resumed running. And because I am quite heavy, I don't run much at a stretch; my current workout alternates .25 miles running with .15 or .2 miles fast walking. (I am, however, hoping to run a 5K in May ...)


My running credentials come mostly from being married to a multi-time marathoner (he ran two of them last fall, unless it was three ... they all start to blur) and otherwise obsessive runner.


The best information I've come across is from Deborah Vogel.. She publishes a very good newsletter about dance and body mechanics. The article I linked is about running. In it she says

Let's start with your first question, is it bad for dancers to run? The short answer is no, as long as you are running with good movement mechanics. The challenge is running with good movement mechanics. For example, if you are knock-kneed, or have excessive pronation (rolling in on your feet) then running could tax your body. Is running an evil exercise for most dancers? NO! Running, along with the elliptical trainer (my favorite), Nordic track, swimming, race walking, and other cardiovascular activities improve the health of dancers and non-dancers alike.


I guess what you decide depends partly on how serious you are. I don't think taking up ballet will hurt your running. As for the other way 'round: this is a totally amateur opinion, but I don't think running would be bad for an adult beginner.

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I think I may have this down, so not to quote before I post... thanks for the house-cleaning tip Ms. Leigh!


Treefrog - Thanks for the quote by Deborah Vogel. I actually just read an article she wrote also related to this topic! Both have been very helpful.


I'm going to do my best to keep up with both. I'll talk to my instructor, continue to read up on it, and listen to my body.


You all have been a huge help, really. Thanks again.

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Hi there,

I do not agree with Victoria (not for the first time, but I also have read a lot from her I respect a lot, just to have that said) that running and ballet does not belong together. Maybe if you ar working on becoming a great sprinter, that might be true, but if you work on long distance and endurance it can become a great help for each other.


I cannot say anything about boxing, so I will not judge that. But, I really beleive that the ballet comunity should be more open to complementary training. Every dancer is unique, like each person is unique, and there are many ways to Rome. Me unfortunately, discovered this much to late in my career, and from 15 years of professional dancing, I think I really spent too long time on following "the right way" than finding the best dancer "in me" I could become. And suddenly at the end I got the pleasure of dancing all my dream roles, and I could stop in peace.


Now to the shin splint.


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Oh, and .... yes, it is absolutely possible to pronate in ballet. Especially if you try to turn out your feet more than your hip rotation can manage. I'm a bad pronator -- or a very good one, depending on how you look at it :dry: -- and it's something I'm always working on.

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Are you saying then that if one runs <xx> miles on grass or on the street, that this activity can be complimentary to building stamina, which is required for ballet? So is distance running a recommendable activity for a serious ballet student whose goal is to perform? If yes, then how frequent per week can a female dancer distance run without causing her leg muscles to hypertrophy?



Maybe if you ar working on becoming a great sprinter, that might be true, but if you work on long distance and endurance it can become a great help for each other.
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It is hard to answer this truly correctly, but for me it helped me a lot. For once becuse i was a quite musceled dancer, I could jump high and turn very well. Wat was missing was elegance and endurance. So yes, running, longer distance, really helped me.

The right distance cannot be decided so easy. It is depending on how used we are to run. Me I ran about 12 kilometers a day at the best times, now I only have time and strengt for about 5 Kilometers a day. But careful, it can be adictive. :) I stopped smoking and started running, you can say I changed one addiction for another.

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Again, not an expert -- garyecht, where are you? -- but my impression is that running doesn't cause huge hypertrophy. I mean, I live with a guy who considers 5 miles a "brief workout" and runs maybe 50 miles a week. He has muscles, but not ones that would be out of place on a dancer. Most serious/obsessive/distance runners are long and lithe.


The issue, I believe, is making sure you separate the two activities in terms of body mechanics. For ballet, you use turn out and generally land toe first. In running, no turnout and heel strikes first. Mix that up -- i.e. try to run with turn out -- and you can cause nasty injuries.


I too have heard "running is bad for dancers" often -- but I do trust Deborah Vogel. I wonder if any really good studies exist on whether moderate running, done properly, really harms dancers, and if so, how. Or perhaps someone here can explain in some detail the body mechanics of how one activity harms the other (more than just "they use different muscles").


Or we could look at it in the reverse: does ballet harm the ability to run? Does a body trained to turn out lack the ability to run safely in parallel?

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"In running, no turnout and heel strikes first. "


Um, wow, I don't think I can physically run with my heel striking first. Is that really how you're supposed to run? How do you do that?

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