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Ballet Talk for Dancers

teenage boy dancer fatigue


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Hi everyone- 14yo DS seems to have a prolonged case of 'being tired'. Does anyone have any wisdom to offer me on this? To be more specific, he is not always tired (in fairness) but it seems to come and go in waves. When it hits it can bring him to tears if he is forced to be active. He has never been a highly energetic kid, his dial is set more for 'steady' and when he is particularly motivated (e.g. before a big concert) he can put in hours of rehearsal. I am assuming that his fatigue is connected to being 14 years old, growing alot and battling with waves of hormones. I understand that but what I find hard is this 'how on earth is he going to dance even close to the hours expected of him at this age??' He used to dance 14 hours per week across 3 days. For lots of reasons this has been toned down to 8 hours across 2 days. He attends a conventional school, has homework most days and sleeps 9 hours at night! Recently I realised that the bouts of being tired pass just as quickly as they seem to come. I am encouraging him to not talk about being TIRED (this pushes all sorts of buttons for whoever hears it) but to consider it a passing 'thing', take a break, have a drink and wait for it to pass. Any other thoughts most welcome. We have worked on herbal drops, vitamins, lots of water, protein snacks....... you name it I think we have tried it. And in case anyone is wondering, he is not depressed and he likes his studio.

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I think you're doing the right thing - ensuring adequate nutrition, hydration and rest. One thing to consider - I remember reading a few articles last year that talked about adolescent sleeping patterns, how their natural wake/sleep cycle was later than what an adult's is. For example, their body clock tells them that they're tired around midnight and they're ready to wake up around 9:00 AM. This isn't necessarily all that easy to accomplish in many situations today! I would imagine this could leave many teenagers feeling like they're running low on energy.


Have you thought about getting his blood, etc levels checked? Hopefully someone who actually has a teenaged-son (or was one!) can be a bit more helpful!


~ Jackie

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Yes I have read that too about their sleep patterns but this guy is definitely not read that! He is in bed around 8.30 and rises at 6.30am every single day of the week since birth. A deadset earlier riser (just about killed me when he was a toddler!) regardless of what time he goes to bed. Yes I have thought of getting his blood tested but I am trying to avoid making a bigger deal of it than I already do. The answer is probably just 'that is the way he is'.

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Once again thank you juandering. Yes he takes a B complex each day along with vit D, folic acid and some magnesium. We had a go with the protein bars but he concluded that they taste 'yucky' (not his actual word but you get the idea!). Thank you for your thoughts on this- I agree that the long view is the one to take. We are working to dodge the 'get those hours up' philosophy because he just can't do it. 'Life is long' I say and I appreciate your wisdom on this one.

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Just a thought - is he going through a growth spurt? That can seriously affect them. By the way 4 hours is quite a lot to get through phsically in one day, especially with all the demands of school. Do you live near the studio? Perhaps three times a week 3 hours would work better.

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When is he not going through a growth spurt!! He is about 5'9" and weighs [.....]kg on a good day. His schedule is actually worse than you think Hamorah. On Tues he dances for 2 classes- about 1.5 hours. On Sat he dances from 10am to 4pm with about a 1 hour lunch break. We live about 30 minutes from the dance studio. I know this seems really close to many many people on this forum. Our last studio was 5 minutes away so to us it seems really inconvenient. We live in a regional centre where most things are about 15 minutes away including about 20 dance schools for some reason. So perhaps we should be spreading it out, I hear you thinking. Maybe. I will have a look at the schedule and see what we can do. The boys classes and pas de deux are on the Saturday so it is an important day. Perhaps splitting is a good idea. I will look into that.........hmmmmmm....... why didnt I think of that???

Edited by dancemaven
removed weight per BT4D policy.
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Oops! a non Parent-of-Boys wandered into the Parents of Boys Forum by mistake and a post was removed.

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For everything medical, a trip to the doctor is suggested. Bloodwork and a discussion with the doctor are the only things that can rule our medical problems that might cause over-tiredness.

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I'll certainly second a general physical with bloodwork. It sounds like you've done a lot to ensure that he has adequate hours for rest each night and decent nutrition.


Is his diet restricted in any way (because of allergies or family philosophy)? Does he snore at night? Does he have dark marks under his eyes, are his lips pale, or is there anything else "off" about his coloring (nail beds, cheeks, ears, eyes particularly)? Does he have unexplained low fevers? Is he anemic? So many simple questions might lead you to better answers and ways to support him.


I know you don't want to make a "big deal" out of it, but it sounds like it's already a big deal, interfering with his life both in and outside of dance. It's worth a good chat with a doctor and some basic bloodwork to look for low-level infections, deficiencies, or other causes.


Btw, does he have a decent sports beverage to drink during those long days? My son has a tendency to droop too, when he has more than three straight hours of class, and a homemade sports drink has helped a lot (compared to just water, which works fine for classes of 2 hours or less). And, of course, you could just buy one too -- I was uncomfortable with most of what's out there. Ours is Celtic sea salt (or another salt with a high natural mineral content) and honey dissolved in hot water, then mixed with fresh citrus juice (usually a mix of what's on hand: lemon, lime, tangerine, orange), and then the balance filled in with coconut water. You can vary the ingredients and amounts -- the idea is just to get a bit of salt (most important for heavy sweaters), some carbs, and electrolytes in with the water.


But yes, go ahead and schedule a physical. It won't make it a bigger deal than it is now -- and it might just provide you with some simple and helpful answers.

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My DS, also 14, had semi-similar symptoms over the past year. Had a physical and blood test. Turns out he was/is borderline anemic. Taking multvitamin now with iron, eating more iron rich foods, taking B12 and vitamin D as well, which was low. Never hurts to get it checked out! :nixweiss:

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Absolutely. It's time for medical input. :thumbsup: Please let us know how it goes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

hi everyone- ok update time. DS was checked over by his GP and all came back clear. Blood tests and the physical exam were 100%. So that is good news. We are now approaching it more psychologically and not catastrophising it. 'Ok so you are abit tired...take a break and it will pass'. Lots of water, protein and all that. Basically stop giving it too much oxygen (as they say). His male dance teacher says he remembers being tired very clearly when he was a young teenager. He says that it takes alot of energy to be 14 and growing- particularly with arms and legs that are so long without alot of muscle to back them up! So we have discussed it with his teachers and they are fine if he wants a break while he is at the studio. He is just to get back into it when he is ready. So I think we have 'exhausted' that whole topic and he will just have to work with it until it passes. :giveup:

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Sounds good Thyme. Keep those lines of communication open!

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