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Ballet Injuries


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I posted this question a couple of days ago after performing a search. I realized later that the question was posted on the "under 13" thread. That's probably why it wasn't answered, so I'd like to ask the question here:


My daughter dances at a respected company school, but there are what seems like an extremely high number of injured dancers. Out of 35 in her level, 7 are under doctor's care and are unable to dance. Ms. Leigh, you mention on this thread


that some ways of training can be detrimental to certain types of bodies. Can you be more specific?

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Sorry, ceecee, but I said all that I can say about that on the other thread. There are too many variables, and no way of knowing what is causing the injuries without seeing the training and the dancers. And, as I said there, injuries happen for some reasons other than training, too.

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Thank you, I understand. I was just hoping for some clarification on the ways of training that might be detrimental. Just grasping at straws I suppose. I really don't think there is a problem with the training where she is. It's just that there are sooo many... I'm not really sure what to do, if anything. I have thought about scheduling a meeting with the directors, but I don't even know what I would say. The studio did have all of its floors replaced last year, and i can't help but wonder if its something to do with that. :) They had them done by a very well known dance floor company, though... again, I guess I'm grasping at straws. Thanks for your response.

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We are seeing this as well. Huge spike in the number of ankle and knee injuries. And the flooring was replaced last Fall. I hadn't thought about a connection until now.... It does give you pause.

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I wonder if a change in flooring - regardless of to more or less "sprung"- could be one of the culprits here?

(until the body gets used to it, perhaps? Just like an increase in work-load can cause an upswing in the number of injuries, until the body adapts.)



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  • 2 weeks later...

In general, I would also ask, are the injured dancers making core strength a priority with pilates (before and after injury)? And once under a doctor's care, are they receiving appropriate physical therapy and modified training to avoid further injury? Have you considered having a PT or physician (who is experienced with dancers) come do a presentation on injury prevention? Take care!!

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Although I can't speak for all of the injured dancers, my daughter was seen by the same doctors who see the company & had physical therapy 2-3 times per week for about 8 weeks with the same physical therapist who works with the company when she fractured her 2nd metatarsal in September. As for pilates, it is offered as part of the weekly curriculum (mat class) & the students are able to sign up for time slots on the reformer. (Although these are kind of hard to get regularly). She had a long hard climb to get back to where she had been, and when she finally was almost whole, she got hurt again. She fell during a studio performance in the same studio where she fractured her foot. She rolled outward when landing a jump & has a grade 3 high ankle sprain with some displacement. She was in an aircast initially & has been in a boot for almost a month. The only physical therapy she is doing so far is drawing the alphabet & gentle theraband stretches. Because of the amount of tearing that happened, & the instability of the joint, he doesn't want her to do more than that for now. She was planning to go to ABT-NY again this summer, but has had to cancel those plans per doctors orders. She was very tearful initially, but I am proud of her for looking for the silver lining & keeping a positive attitude.

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  • 4 months later...

CeeCee, I wonder how your DD is doing now? My 14 year old DD landed awfully and tore ligaments at class one month ago. We were with a doctor who's previous medical advice for ballet injuries was just fine and non-invasive. He advised a very natural approach this time because he thinks she is strong and has been a good healer in past....a month went by and we took her to a different specialist who works with dancers and have been given feedback that is nearly the polar opposite. We are meeting in a few days to discuss the MRI results. These days waiting are the hardest- my DD facing the possibility of a very long rehabilitation period. There are a lot of details not filled in here regarding specific medical advice (or lack there of), but I wonder what advice you might give me in processing the medical advice and how I might keep myself from crying over not seeing her dance this year.

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Hi wallis. (((((HUGS)))) My heart goes out to you and your daughter. :flowers: I can tell you that my daughter's injury did not end up needing surgery to heal, but she did have to stop dancing completely for about three months. She received the doctor's okay to start slowly back & has been taking classes and building herself back up since early August. She started very slowly, doing only barre for a couple of weeks with no rises. Then slowly adding rises, then little jumps, then big jumps, finally pointe just a few weeks ago. She is being very cautious & I applaud her for it. Strength and stamina of course are the last to return, but she is getting there. She made a curriculum change this year & moved back from the large professional company school where she has been for the last couple of years, to the small pre-professional where she got her start. This has been very good for her. The small school has excellent teachers & because the classes are small, she has been receiving much more individual attention & nurturing than she could get at the company school after she was injured. She intends to participate in Nutcracker & we are both happily looking forward to having her perform again. She has not been able to perform since summer '10.


The advice I would give to you and your daughter would be to make sure that you have the best medical care you can possibly find. An excellent physical therapist is also important. Don't be discouraged about how the foot/ankle "looks" during rehabilitation. My daughter injured her best/prettiest foot & it looked for awhile as though it would never be pretty again... but it is. During the time away from dance, try to cram in all of the things your DD usually must miss because of dance. Go on a hay ride, pick pumpkins, take a vacation or a getaway weekend... things like that. My daughter was devastated initially about not being able to dance this past summer, but she ended up having a really good time doing things she normally can't do like vacationing, going to church camp, camping, etc.


As far as holding back you tears goes... I couldn't help you there... I cried and cried, but now, with hindsight, I can see that there was a value to the experience for DD that we couldn't see when she was in the middle of it. She is a stronger & happier dancer because of it.

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To address patterns of injury is hard because of the individual circumstances. Dd has had her share of injuries and every single one of them happened when she was in the midst of a growth spurt. DD's physician has even used dd's spondylolysis as a case report that she uses in her lectures throughout the world as she is convinced that particular injury happens mostly at certain ages for both dancers and athletes (particularly soccer) and correlates to growth. Growth and overuse are sure recipes for injury. DD has stopped growing (we think) at 18 and (knock wood) she hasn't had too many problems with pain or injury since. As she's growing into her woman's body, she's also become very serious about her pilates and strength training and that helps too!


It's very hard to watch your dd suffer the loss of daily dancing and the joy of performing but your dd can learn a lot by watching others dance and see the corrections given to them. After a few injuries and sitting on the sidelines, dd actually became quite skilled at helping her classmates who were struggling to apply corrections!


Ceecee is also right about doing things that aren't able to happen when your dd is dancing. She can have some "me time." (And so can you!) I hope your daughter recovers swiftly and that this will be short period in a long, happy career!

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Hi all, and thanks for your advice and encouragement. We have seen a new doctor who is very proactive and works specifically with ballet dancers. He and his physical therapist (who is a former dancer) are going to give very good, and specific treatment to my DD. After an MRI- it turns out she has two very damaged ligaments and one detached ligament in her ankle. Not good. Physical therapy and the very real possibility of surgery are what she has to look forward to this year. She has always identified as a dancer, so this will be such a tough year for her. Though I already see this absence of dance deepening her commitment to it. What's hardest for her is this limbo she is in. Oh well, as Suzanne stated, injuries are all part of the career; and this will likely help her decide if she wants to pursue a career.

It is possible this is an injury related to growth, or is simply a result of hyper mobility in her ligaments. Her feet are like rubber- she's got those ideal arches and insteps, which we are seeing as a gift and a challenge.

This injury with a few others at our small studio are compelling me to actively educate parents about whole body care and establish pilates as required curriculum at the studio. It is something the directors regularly offer, but the interest is often low. I am aware of other threads regarding this and will follow those for advice which I can apply as administrator at the studio!

Thanks all!

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Sorry about the now defined injury and possible surgery. Finding a doctor and support staff that understand dancers is a step in the right direction. It's going to be tough but if she can see it as an opportunity to learn more about her body and watch others and listen to the corrections they are given then she'll come back stronger and smarter. Rent lots of ballet dvd's and she can become more familiar with the choreography, if you subscribe to any of the ballet magazines, there are frequent stories of well-known professionals who have overcome significant injuries and still dance beautifully.


As far as those feet, dd deals with the same issue and has rolled over and even out of pointe shoes while dancing. I'm sure the post op plan will include lots of foot strengthening exercises. You might ask if she can do some non-weight bearing exercises before surgery. (Things like picking marbles up with her toes, scrunching a towel with her toes... that sort of thing. It's imperative that you find someone who can advise you about what pointe shoes will not only make her feet look good (I'm sure they would look good in a cardboard box) but also support her in the right places once she is back to pointe. Use the time away to find out who can help you with that (include the dancer/PT in that discussion too). Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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  • 2 months later...

My son has been dancing for 8 yrs now and has a short tendon in his leg which makes him have exquisite dancers feet but pops out once in awhile. He has been to the immediate care and in for physical therapy a few times. However, when they send him for therapy the therapist is used to working on sports injuries and not dealing with the dancers tendon problem. Is there special therapist for dancers that know there problems? If so, does anyone know of someone good in the Buffalo NY area?

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Leotardsandmore, can you be more specific about the tendon that "pops out"? I'm having a hard time picturing this and don't understand what tendon you might be talking about.

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