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Ballet Talk for Dancers

sprained ankle


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This is crazy!  My daughter twisted her ankle last week at the studio for the first time ever.  We have been treating it at home and it is almost back to normal.  Last night she managed to twist her other ankle in class doing jumps!!  She has never had ankle injuries before, so I am trying to figure out what is going on.  She is 13 and dances 5 days a week at a pre-pro studio.  I'm wondering if it could be a growth spurt?  Can a growth spurt cause joints to become a bit unstable for a season?  Does anyone have any experience with that?  Or is it truly just a coincindence that she got two sprains in less than two weeks time!

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Hi dsballet1. Sorry to hear your daughter is having this issue. My daughter had a very similar injury around the time of her growth spurt at 12 or 13. The tendons (or ligaments, I can't remember!) on the outside of her ankle became unstable and they would slip around the ankle bone. I'm sorry I'm not describing it well technically but it sounds like your daughter could be having a similar issue. We first saw a pediatric orthopedist who said she might have to stop dancing because her tendons would never be stable enough to support pointe work. This doctor had a terrible bedside manner and scared my daughter to death.

We got a second opinion from the top ankle specialist in our city who works with professional athletes and dancers. He said as a last resort there is a surgery they can do to tighten the tendons and create a groove for them to stay in the ankle bone. But he recommended doing physical therapy to strengthen her ankles first, and the pt worked very well. She was diligent about her exercises and has never had a problem since. She is almost 17 now and has had a couple of minor strains, but nothing serious and dances at a year round residence school.

Have you seen a doctor and gotten xrays? It would be a good idea to identify the problem, and I would highly recommend finding a good pt in your area that you trust. If she is dancing that many days per week, it's good to have someone you can call for anything that comes up!

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Dsballet1 - So sorry to hear that !  I’m am not a doctor but thinking that since her first ankle wasn’t 100% she may have been overcompensating on other foot as she was landing.  Honestly , whenever my dd had an sort of injury , I made her stop for a few days or whatever was needed.   There can be pressure to come to class but trust me .... it’s not necessary , so many girls are afraid to miss and just keep getting re injured  or worse .   Rest get to 100% 😀

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Thank you, after talking with a friend last night (who happens to be a pediatrician), I believe a growth spurt is the most likely culprit.  She really didn't want to tell her teacher about the second sprain, I get that.  Especially now when they are setting choreography.  She just basically marked it last night and will be off tonight.  She's icing it as I type :) 

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She will also need to learn how about to rehab it.  The ligaments are like rubber bands and each sprain weakens the elasticity. Not much one can do about that, but it is important to strengthen the surrounding muscles that support the ankle and its ligaments and tendons. 

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I will add again, don't be afraid to make her sit out - not mark, not anything for a day or two ... the roles they do now make NO difference in their dance future ( hard to see when they are that young but it's true)    but a recurring injury will....       When my dd was young I wouldn't allow her to do the spring show - ! Oh my ! LOL - people actually said " you're the first dancer to  not go into the corp in the next show after being Clara"  - not go into the corp ???    this was a local studio not ABT :)


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When DD had a "strong Grade 1" sprain she sat out for at least 3 weeks.  Rehabbed with a PT and then gradually got back into it.  She was not dancing full out until 7 weeks.  She might have been a bit gun shy.  Now she does a series of releves and proprioception exercises daily. 

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thankfully my dd hasn't had an ankle strain but any other issues and I, like you, had her  out, in PT etc ...    we are lucky to live by NYC so the PT was someone who deals with ballet dancers which is important 

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I will definitely look into strengthening exercises for her ankle.  We don't live in an area with doctors who know anything about ballet :(   I sure wish that was an option though!

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The doctors may not know about ballet, but a physical therapist may have a somewhat better understanding. 

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