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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Acute Tendonitis and upcoming Nutcracker....


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My 15 year old daughter is nursing acute achilles tendonitis which flared her on Nov. 6. It is her first experience with tendonitis. She is under the care of a very competent podiatrist, who understands the stresses and pressures of an elite athlete and is dedicated to ensuring my daughter will have many dancing years ahead of her if that is what she chooses. Our Dr. has prescribed topical analgesic, icing, and...no pointe work for 4 to 6 weeks, along with referral to a physical therapy. She understands that DD is scheduled to dance Ncracker Dec. 20 weekend, and has said "it is a wait and see" depending on how fast DD recovers.


I informed our director of the situation so that, if worse comes to worse, he has a back up plan, as DD is scheduled in 2 leads. Instead of responding to me directly, he chastised my daughter for "jumping" in a photo shoot last week, (She only has pain on releve, and admittedly, did not use best judgement... ) and told her she should not be icing-- and he was seeking other opinions about how much time she needs to "heal."


We have just returned from a superbly knowledgeable physical therapist, who after thorough review of DD's physique, identified the weaknesses (hyper-extensison of all joints) that have likely led to the tendonitis (and last year's ankle sprains). She is placing her on an intensive combo of ultrasound therapy and Non-dance muscle strengthening regimen, including pilates, which my daughter has been doing to stay in shape. Her take on DD's tendonitis is that if recovery continues as it has for the past 4 weeks, she might be able to dance nutcracker without derailing healing, but it is wait and see. my DD is icing every day and taking Aleve. She is doing everything she can to heal. I feel that between our Dr. and physical therapist, my daughter has a solid team behind her who have expressed their intent to support her long-term dancing abilities.


The issue is that it is also clear that AD expects her to dance NC and is not terribly sympathetic to the idea of waiting until she is pain free. For him, I know it is solely about "the show must go on." While there are other dancers, the cast this year is rather bare bones on skill as the studio lost some of the other strong dancers this year.


So my question is: At what point should my DD simply suck it up in the name of the "greater good," and risk chronic tendonitis? As much as DD does not want to let studio down, she also is keenly focussed on upcoming auditions for SIs and sees that as more important to her future than one more nutcracker. I am proud that my DD has the clarity to know that she wants to ensure her future options, but also want to make sure we are not being unreasonable if she decides self-preservation over Studio's interests. (Im positive that AD would say SI's are NOT important... but that's another story) Am I wrong to feel that since she is not in a company that is paying her, she needs to look out for her own best interests? Am I wrong to feel that AD is perhaps not acting in DD's best interest?


Guidance from those who have "been there" is much appreciated.

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Been there, done that! My dd had two bouts of tendonitis, one before Nut followed by another before spring show. She was 12. We had the same strong support from the medical end of things. We took a wait and see attitude, iced, did pt once the pain was gone, etc. It worked out for the Nut, dd was able to dance with medical clearance to do so. Spring show was a no go. The school was good about it but she wasn't 15 with lead roles. I suspect it would be different at age 15 and lead roles. You and your dd are right, long term health is more important. SI auditions are important at age 15. Stick to your plan. Listen to your medical support team. You have to watch out for your own interests, not that of a director worried about his show. If you take care of the tendonitis there will more Nuts in her life.

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I second Swanchat's post. Nutcracker is not worth it when you take a longer view.

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Taradriver, was the achilles tendonitis your DD had from an acute injury, or did it come on gradually, such as in being overused, etc?


And what were the experiences she made, with time off, PT and such?

I know that all injuries are different, and that people react differently to treatment, but I am always curious about what is done/ what helps some people)



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DD had some tendonitis issues following a knee injury. She had excellent, expert PT by a former ballet dancer/current ballet teacher/PT. The warm baths really helped her. She was surprised, dd's a shower girl.

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