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Will a previous ankle injury affect my learning ballet?


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Hello! I'm Linz, I'm new here :thumbsup:


I'm 24, starting my first ever ballet class in a couple of days, and I'm nervous but excited! My dance experience consists of two swing dance lessons about a year ago, but that's it. I've never tried ballet before, but I've been looking for a way to get involved in the local arts community and found a local adult ballet class, so I thought I'd go for it. :grinning:


I would love someone's opinion on injuries; I sprained my ankle pretty badly about 5 years ago, and it was perfectly healed until this past November when I sprained it again (although not as seriously as the first time). Will this affect my learning ballet at all? Should I wrap my ankle or use a brace until I know how it reacts? As I said I have no experience with ballet so I don't know how it will affect the joints of my ankles. Even suggestions of some stretches would be helpful. :)


Any ideas or opinions?

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The doubly-sprained ankle may be weaker, tighter, and may require some outside the classroom exercises to bring it around to health. I think you might consider purchasing an elastic wrap so you'll have it on hand if it does start to act up.


Does it hurt you now to do things like walking, running, jogging, etc?

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I seriously sprained my ankle back in 2002 and it occasionally still reminds me. Ballet doesn't seem to aggravate it, but when it is acting up, my foot tends to land in a sickled position, so I have to pay close attention to it to avoid rolling over on it. All injuries are unique so your experience may vary, but be careful.


Ah, the joys of getting older!

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I don't experience pain in my ankle consistently, although whenever the barometric pressure changes rapidly it tends to be more sore (I think that's the case with many injuries like mine). I work at a restaurant where I will sometimes be on my feet for at least 5 hours straight, and it can get pretty sore then--but not all the time. I haven't attempted to run on it much, mostly because I'm not a huge fan of running, and also because my sneakers are wearing out.


I'm honestly not a particularly active person--at least not since middle school when I ran track and didn't like it (and came away with shin splints). I've always been an average-to-skinny weight and I enjoy a brisk walk or going hiking (and swimming when I can), but that's about it. And since moving in December I've been even less active since I've been working 2 jobs. This obviously hasn't helped my ankle heal or get stronger at all (last time I took a T'ai Chi class for 2 years which really helped). Now I'm not active and my ankle will be sore after work, like I said, or when I'm wearing sandals or heels where I don't have any support. I guess just getting moving somehow (besides just ballet) would probably help it the most?


Thanks for the advice :unsure: I have an elastic wrap bandage already, I'll definitely keep it nearby once I start class!

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You will probably need to ice the ankle after every class for about 15 minutes, depending upon the "ice-delivery system". If you are using the old-fashioned ice cubes in a baggie wrapped in a towel, 15-20 minutes is fine. If you're using the ice massage method, then 5 minutes is it. You will need to do this to keep the inflammation at bay, and it probably would be good to go ahead and ice now after you've been on your feet in your restaurant job.


Icing can help prevent further problems.


Be sure to inform your ballet teacher and make sure you are receiving the best possible training in your area. Your teacher will need to be aware of your injury so she can keep a close eye on you to be sure you're not sickling. Slow and steady should be your mantra!

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I had already planned to tell my teacher before class, and now I'll definitely be breaking out my Ziploc bag full of ice tomorrow after class, too--I think that will really help. Slow and steady works for me! :unsure: Thanks for all the advice, I'll let you know how it goes!

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Thanks so much for the advice! Class went ok, my velcro brace worked better than my elastic bandage; I signed up for Adult Ballet 2, which is the upper level (intermediate) adult class at the studio, but I didn't realize that until I arrived tonight; I thought both 1 and 2 were beginner classes, so when we started class I was a bit lost! My teacher is great, though, and she said I would be fine if I wanted to continue. I get my work schedule tomorrow so I'll be able to see if I can take the lower level class too.


I have to say, though, that I had fun! Even though half the time I no clue what I was doing, I watched the others and got through it ok--my teacher even said my feet were pretty when we did releves! :) And my ankle didn't bother me too much, except one instance in center work (I heard so many different combinations tonight I can't remember which one it was). I think I'm gonna stick with it; now that I've got a taste of it I want to see how much I can improve!

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Congratulations on your first class. Please don't take what I'm going to say the wrong way but I would be cautious about the intermediate class if you are an absolute beginner. Maybe you are a natural and can pick up really fast and have no reason to be in a beginner class, but if you can get into the beginner class. I do not put much stock into what some teachers say because some of them are only trying to get as much money out of the students as possible--so the more classes you take (even if not your level) the better for the studio because they make more money. I don't see the point in advising an absolute beginner to take an intermediate class. If you really want to learn how to dance, I think jumping into a higher level at the very beginning sets you up for problems down the line with learning to remember combinations--you say you had to "watch" the other dancers. In my experience (and maybe for you and others it is different) once one gets into the habit of copying it is very hard for one to stop it and be able to think through the combinations on his/her own and pick up quickly. Being in a class that is too advanced makes one HAVE to copy others because that is the only way to keep up. Of course it is your choice what class you want to take but I just wanted to put that out there.

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Thanks for your imput, luceroblanco :)


I haven't decided what I'm going to do yet about my class. The adult beginner class is only offered on a morning that I currently work. Fortunately the class I took tonight was a free trial, so I didn't have to pay anything. I actually asked my teacher outright if she thought I should try a different class, and she said she thought I could stick it out. She also said that if she thought I couldn't do it, she would have let me know. I don't get the impression that she would say things just because she was afraid I would leave and they would lose money (granted I did just meet her tonight, but I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt right now). I did have fun and I think she seems like a good teacher--I'm just behind everyone else, which makes everything harder. I think tonight I was also overwhelmed because I wasn't prepared for it to be an intermediate class--I was expecting the basics. Right now I don't know how long it will take for me to catch on, or if it's worth the money I would be paying.


I do have a week to make a decision about this--thank goodness I didn't have to put any money up front. The same teacher also teaches a teen/adult jazz class (which I'm almost positive is for beginners, but I'm going to ask first this time) on a different night that would fit into my schedule, so I'm at least going to try and see if I can do a free trial of that class.


Any opinions? :)

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I think it's a confusion of nomenclature. You referred to it as an "intermediate" class but it is called "Ballet 2". How many working "adults" can fit in a morning class? If the beginning ballet class (Ballet 1--which is probably for Absolute Beginners--assuming the student has NEVER taken ballet before) is only offered in the morning then it's quite possible that the evening "Intermediate" class is not really "Intermediate" and is more of a Beginner class--catch-all for beginners and advanced beginners, and there are other beginners in that class--meaning people who have taken probably 1-3 years of ballet because they can't fit in the morning class. In that case maybe she is used to having absolute beginners come into the class and will give you some alternatives when the others are working on more difficult moves. I personally, especially with an ankle that previously was injured, would not take the Ballet 2 if it is actually an Intermediate class--but not having seen the class I can't say what it really is. The potential for injury in a situation like that is greater since more will be asked of the students (if it really is an intermediate class). A beginner or a restarting beginner needs time to learn the vocabulary (in the mind and the body) and also train the muscles in the proper way to avoid bad habits and injury. Jumping into too much too soon can put too much stress on the muscles. Ballet is fun (for those that like it) but it is not like some other forms of dance, particularly ethnic dances, that are easy on the body. You need to develop the proper technique to strengthen the right muscles to be able to avoid injury. You are pretty young so your body is capable of doing a lot but be careful.


I cannot imagine any absolute beginner being able to do the Intermediate classes (that are advertised as "Intermediate") at either studio I attend. They would not be able to pick up the choreography fast enough since they wouldn't even know the basic steps and jumps and also would not have the strength yet to do the balances on one leg (or even both legs). This is a given for Intermediate and that they know all the body positions as well (croise, efface, ecarte in all directions). Also they would not have the aplomb to do the more advanced center work (even if they could pick up the choreography).

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Did you see the chiro after your last sprain?


I sprained my ankle many times in high school, then again in adult gymnastics class. In high school, it remained weak and didn't heal well. When I sprained it as an adult, I went to my chiropractor. He explained that when you sprain an ankle, you displace a bone from a saddle joint and it is usually lodged out of place. In order to heal properly, you have to reset the bone, otherwise it ends up feeling weak and "tweaky". He did so, my ankle healed, and I dance.

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Thanks so much for the replies; you've brought up a lot of things I hadn't considered. :wacko:


The studio (actually it's an arts center with a large dance program) advertises the classes as Adult Ballet 1 and Adult Ballet 2. When I asked about the free trial, they suggested I come to Ballet 2 since I can't fit the other into my schedule, and so I could meet the teacher--who is also the director of the dance program. Looking back, I guess they figured I could try it out (even thought it wasn't for absolute beginners) and the teacher could decide where I should be placed. Of course, I didn't realize that at first; at the time I assumed that 1 and 2 were just 2 separate sections of the same beginning class. It was a miscommunication, I guess.


As for keeping up in class, you're right; I don't know the names of three-quarters of the positions and exercises. If I hadn't looked up the foot positions and tendus before I started class, I would have been even more lost. I think it's really the speed of the class that made it so difficult for me--she was doing combinations I'd never even seen, and then we were expected to do it after seeing it demonstrated twice. At the barre I picked things up pretty quickly once I saw the steps a couple times, but by the time I began to get it without watching someone else, we would move on. I mean, it was fun, especially when I "got it", but also overwhelming--not to mention I have almost no idea (save her corrections in class) if my basic technique is correct. I'm really not sure how long I could do the class without knowing more of the basics.


The good news is that my work schedule has changed and I would be able to take Adult Ballet 1. That is looking like the much better option. There is also a Teen/Adult Jazz class on the same day; if they met on different days I might consider shelling out the money for both, but I know my body well enough to not attempt two dance classes in one day at the beginning. I'm going to email my teacher and ask her what she thinks about me taking either the Jazz or Ballet 1 class--or if I could at least try one class of each. You can also pay by semesters; so I might wait and see how I do with one class and add another after Christmas.

I will say this, though: overwhelmed as I was, dancing left me really mellow and de-stressed and I loved that! I was so focused on class that I worked out all my stress. Whether it's jazz or ballet, I definitely want to continue dance somehow. :crying:

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Can you take both ballet classes? I was in a very similar situation when I first started, and I wish I had done that. In my case, I just stuck with "intermediate" because the teacher thought I would do fine. She was right, but even so I can state unequivocally that I would be a better dancer if I had started from the beginning. Maintaining proper alignment is hard, and it's even harder when you're trying to catch up to a class that is doing more difficult movements. Even if you're the type to absorb corrections instantly, something's going to lapse when you're learning too much at once, which can lead to bad habits. Do yourself a favor and take the time each week to focus on basics and only basics. It will pay off!

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