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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Sciatic nerve


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I haven't been around in a while, if anyone even remembers me...


*waves* :blushing: Hi, my name's Eryn.....I'm addicted to dance...


*Chorus* HI ERYN!!


K, we got that out of the way...


Anyway, I took two years off dance when my husband was deployed and we were moving to Georgia....I recently have found an awesome ballet class and an amazing pointe class, and am getting back into it.


Over the last two years, my left leg has developed a VERY frustrated sciatic nerve. At one point, I was on daily pain meds. My husband convinced me to do a small barre on my own, certain it would relieve the pain. Darn it, he was right. I re-gained the ability to walk, and even...sort of...dance on that leg.


However, now that I'm taking a full ballet class twice a week....and pointe....I really want to regain the flexibility I lost....but my sciatica has been furious with me when we're doing barre, and especially when we stretch.


Ballet helped me originally with this problem....is there anything I can do stretch or exercise wise to get my left leg to be able to move again? My right leg is gaining strength SO much faster than my left, and it's beginning to mess with me.


Thanks guys!

I'm not sure this has been addressed somewhere before, but I couldn't find anything.

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Have you seen a physio or chiropractor about the problem? Mine was a godsend. I no longer have the sciatica and now take about 11 hours of ballet a week (including 3.5 hours of pointe).

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I had reconstructive surgury on my spine 11 years ago due to scoliosis, and I now have metal rods that support my spinal column. Because of this, I cannot see a chiropractor....although I do go to massage therapy when I can afford it....

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My massage therapist identified on ME that the piriformis syndrome was causing my sciatica. She massaged the fascia area (don't ask me much about the real inner workings - I'm only repeating what she told me) in the hip/buttocks area and taught me a couple of stretches and one "inner massage" (as she called it) using a tennis ball under the area she'd massaged. It's worked beautifully. Ask your massage therapist about what you can do at home to help yourself.


I've been sciatica-free now since around April or May. This is my personal experience, of course.

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I also had problems with my nerve, caught early. It was difficult to tendu avant, but I saw a massage therapist who not only worked on it (helping me very much), but also taught my husband and I ways to continue relieve the pain with home treatment. In this case, I definitely think you should see a pro.

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I echo the recommendation to consult a professional about your problems to find out for certain what is causing your symptoms and what exercises are recommended. If it is indeed the piriformis at issue, the tennis ball massage that Serendipity suggested works great to release tension. Good luck!

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I'm working on identifying the problem...did some in-depth research on piriformis, and I'm curious to discover if that's my problem or not.


As I haven't run in to too many people my age, or dancers, with any sciatic nerve pain, I was curious for this board of others have run into this:


At Barre this week, I pushed myself a little further than the pain in my leg wanted to go. I described the pain to my brother like that moment in a stretch where you know you've gone, or are about to go, too far, and you'll injure yourself if you go further. It's especially excruciating while bending forward during our plie stretches, after the grand plie and bending forward in first, second, fourth and fifth. However, I pushed past the original shock of pain and found my flexibility wasn't impaired really, it just hurt a whole bunch. My hips are no more stiff today then they would be any other day we did ronde jambs en lair (which always KILL).


Is this supposed to happen? Should I keep stretching it? I can't find a physio, and I'm afraid to go to a chiropractor because of my back. (and massage therapy is out this month, due to finances....)

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(I've researched some sciatica stretches, and the piformis ones seem to work the best, with a deeeeeeep need to work on my hamstrings. Any suggestions as to actually make progress on my hammies, without screaming involved?)

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I have found the same thing, irishprincess, that flexibility isn't at all impaired but it hurts a heck of a lot!


There are stretches - if you search "piriformis stretch" on google, you'll come up with a few. There's one in particular that I love and do it before class and, if time allows, during it. That, and the tennis ball thing, deep tissue massage and some other things that my PT did, has helped immensely.


I still get very sore in the piriformis but it does not at all involve the sciatic anymore.

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As you may know, in about 25% of the population a branch of the sciatic nerve actually goes through the piriformis muscle, and as the piriformis is used hard in ballet to help turnout, piroformis stretches are particularly important to relieve any pressure. About hamstrings - given that you have major spinal complications, I wonder if this query is best posted on the Health forum, so that only a health professional will reply?



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A good point, Jim. WE have such a wealth of types of advice here!


And saying that, can I pick people's brains about which web-sites they've found to be appropriate, sound sources of advice on good stretches for ballet? I tool Serendipity's advice and googled 'piriformis stretch' and the first hit I got was from a grouping called "Expert Village."


Now, the stretch looked fine -- it's one I've done for years, actually. But on YouTube, there are some appalling demonstrations of ballet (if you could call it that) under the title of "Expert Village," so I am cautious about that particular title (the ballet is not demonstrated by an expert!) ... what are people's tips for reputable sites?

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"... what are people's tips for reputable sites?"


I dont know. It would be interesting to see. I guess one isssue is, that the more that trainers know, the more they know how they are really dealing with the whole person, and if there are ongoing medical issues too, they need to diagnose and deal with those as well in doing even one simple stretch. So my guess is that there will be simple "Expert Village" type sites, but the more responsible practitioners will shy away from contributing to them.


Having said that, there are of course many good and straightforward stretches that are described in many places such as books, so putting together a repertoire of stretches should be possible. But a Youbube video may not be able to include the necessary background information that a book can. And someone who has written a book is hardly going to put it all up on the web for free afterwards.


So I'd be interested to see if anyone has an answer to Redbookish's positive sugestion, but I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't any reputable and good sites.




PS in case it wasnt clear, my comment about hamstring stretches was in relation to the fact that many hamstring stretches involve putting presure on the spine, so expert advice might be a good idea.

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I like Deborah Vogel's website for advice on ballet stretches, and Lisa Howell's YouTube videos. I also like the stretches on Brad Appleton's website and have seen a couple of other ballet sites mention them - I don't know how 'sound' they are, though. If you want to look, just type 'Brad Appleton stretching' into Google (I know the Mods are quite strict about posting links). I also like the Physio Room (comes up second when you type it into Google). It's really more football orientated, but I like their clear description of injuries and strengthening exercises and stretches.

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