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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Injury prevention measures?


psavola

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I have been browsing this site and read quite a few posts about dance injuries - tendonitis, shin splints, stress factures and so on. I have never had a dance-related injury (or, actually, a serious injury of any sort), and would very much like to keep it that way. :D

 

How common exactly are these kinds of things in "serious" recreational dancers? By serious recreational dancer I mean somebody who takes regular and frequent classes (say, 3-6 in a week) and wants to progress and learn, but has no aspirations towards professionalism.

 

What can an adult do to prevent ballet-related injuries in addition to stressing correct technique? How essential is pre-barre warm-up?

 

Have the members of this board had a ballet-caused injury, and could it have been prevented? How?

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Good questions, psavola. :D I think one of the keys, especially for adults, is definitely pre-barre stretching. Most dancers learn over time what things they need to do before starting. I have a sequence of things I always do before teaching, starting with some upper body stretches, then some floor stretches like working the feet with flexing and pointing, and then some things at the barre like bending in all directions, foot stretches, achilles tendon stretches, hamstring stretches, quad stretches, and some gentle hip flexing exercises. This all takes about 15 minutes, and I am pretty religious about it, as teaching without being warmed up can be very dangerous! Of course working correctly in class, and working on a well-sprung floor are most important too. Working enough every day or every week, but not over working, or not working when you are physically exhausted from something else, are things which need to be considered, too.

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Guest pumukau

I started ballet at 43 and resolved that I would stay with it until I looked like a complete twit or my injuries stopped me. Happy to say the first hasn't happened but the second almost did; My knees got so bad in the second year that I thought I would have to quit. This was certainly aggravated by a Fritz who was cast for personality rather than dancing ability throwing a cross body block across my knees in the first blackout in Nut one year.

 

But two things fixed it; icing the knees after class and jogging a block or two before. In fact since I started jogging a little, religiously, before class I have had no trouble at all. What I've been told is that if you try to stretch muscles beore they're warm you won't be stretching the muscles you'll be stretching the tendons and ligaments, which is hard on the joints. Whatever the case, I absolutely will not start a class now unless I've jogged around the parking lot at least.

 

I'm preparing for my first dancing role this winter (at 52!), as Wolf in Peter and the Wolf, and learning a lot about my limitations and strengths. I was suffering a lot of aches and pains until I cut back radically on my meat intake, that seemed to work for me. Arnica gel is magic. Good luck!

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I have one teacher who always begins class on the floor with some gentle exercises I've now adopted before all my other classes. Many times I'll be the only one on the floor, doing my little ankle circles and hip stretches. Occasionally people look at me like I'm crazy, but I'm convinced that they play a key role both in getting me ready for class and preventing injury.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest verdura

Hey Pleiades i do the same "ritual" before to start class!

some people find it quite funny.I've learned that with an

asian alternative body therapies expert.Really cool!

I thought i was the only one:D

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I've learned over time my feet are the things most in need of stretching before and after a class. I make sure I spend at least ten minutes before barre working out my feet. I also throw in some runners stretches to loosen the achilles tendon up before class.

 

Stretching religiously is the best thing for me. The more I stretch the more limber I'm becomming. I think this has kept me pretty safe so far. Of course, knowing your limitations it high up there on the list of precautions. Simply knowing when to stop and when to sit out a combination is a healthy thing.

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The ideas above are all great!

One of the dancers in one of the companies I danced with used to run at least twice around the city park (right in front of the theatre) before putting on his make-up and doing his barre before performance.

About the stretching when one is not really warm: Those types of stretches are usually rather short, not held a long time at all. The reason for doing them is that you are basically sending messages to the involved muscles and joints, etc. that "soon you will be called upon to do more work! Be prepared!" This does tend to work for most people.

Personally, I do much as Victoria has mentioned before I either teach or do my own class. (Sadly there are no adult classes anywhere near me for me to take part in as a student!)

Being warmed up before starting class does really help. (But I do find that for every year over 40, I need about an EXTRA five minutes to get to that "warmed-up" state. Oh, dear...)

Another thing one can do to try to avoid any serious injuries is to make sure that the knees are over the middle of the feet every time one does any sort of plie- after a jump or in any fondus- always.

That and making your back feel long and the ears up and back should also help .... But hey, you know all that already. ;-)

--Diane-

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Hello Diane, welcome to Ballet Alert! Online :) Delighted that you have found us, and hope you noted that there is also a Teachers' forum here!

 

Warming up before teaching is just as essential as warming up before classes. And, as you said, the older we get, the harder it gets to do it! But, I do credit my ability to still do a lot of demonstrating at this age to my stubbornness about that warm up. :)

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