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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Continue class with modifications for mild Hip Impingement (FAI)?


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Thanks to everyone who urged me not to self diagnose and to see a doctor for my hip pain. Based on my symptoms and physical exam, my doctor is fairly certain I have a hip impingement (Femoroacetabular impingement or FAI). I will be getting an MRI shortly so should know in a couple of weeks. It is (in my opinion) mild at this point-- causes an underlying ache but I certainly don't have problems sitting or walking as severe cases do. Without a diagnosis yet she of course is not telling me what my prognosis is (fortunately, she is a former ballet dancer so I expect she can be very specific about what actions I may have to limit).


Of course, I've impatiently (and possibly prematurely) turned to google already to see what the prospects are. It does not look good-- conservative treatment is "limit activity"-- indefinitely, since it is structural. Treatment for moderate to severe FAI seems to be anthroscopic surgery (like A-Rod and Michelle Kwan had).


I am wondering if anyone here has been diagnosed with fai (seems to be somewhat common in ballet dancers)-- and if you were able to continue dancing (recreationally-- and presumably, with some type of modification to your movements), without undergoing surgery.


Also, in the interim while I am waiting for results, the doctor did tell me to cut back on the number of classes I am taking and to avoid using my hip flexors on that side. Can anyone suggest an exercise I can practice outside of class where I can better get a feeling of what "using my hip flexors" feels like versus the correct muscles?

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Chances are, how you've been "doing turnout" has exascerbated the issue. It also sounds like you've been overusing the hip flexors rather than equalizing the rotational control throughout all of the muscles responsible.


If I were your teacher and the doctor said you can still take ballet classes while waiting for the MRI results, I would want you to back off of turnout a great deal, and I'd want you to drop back at least one level so you could focus each exercise on using your muscles correctly.


I would also want you to begin doing re-balancing physical therapy exercises, to counteract the affects of being in a rotated state. Have you read these stickies?:


"Identifying and Strengthening Rotators" http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=53605


"Alignment" http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=35504


"Rotation & Turnout" http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=44193

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Thanks so much for the links, Clara, I am printing them all out.


I believe this issue pre-dated the start of my ballet classes-- I immediately noticed the difference in the range of motion on that side when I started, but just didn't know why and didn't think too much of it other than old age and lack of flexibility. The doctor thinks the impingement may have been from being a gymnast when I was younger or even just something I was structurally born with that become more apparent when you use your hips more.


I am pretty sure my turnout (meaning the static way I stand in fifth, for example) itself has been conservative and unforced. That said, I am not 100% sure what happens when I leave my static position and start moving so I am looking forward to using your "inner thigh boot camp" tonight so I can check that I am isolating the correct muscles. Considering I am a beginner, there is no level below the classes I am taking, but there are definitely small, slower classes that I will continue to take-- and give up my larger, super fast class for now.


I really hope this does not mean the end of ballet class for me. Even though I still cannot follow a combination to save my life, I really marvel at how unbelievably strong my legs and feet have become and how much I have improved my balance, in just 6 months time. I can't even imagine giving it up.

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Let's not put the cart before the horse! It may very well be that after a few weeks of identifying and strengthening your rotation, you will be able to forge onward! Think positive.

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  • 10 years later...

The "Identifying and strengthening your rotator muscles" thread is super helpful.

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