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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Returning after injury


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My DD,  age 13, has been going through a growth spurt as I posted about a while ago. She has some muscle weakness in certain areas and has been working with her PT on strengthening. She also does Pilates 2 days a week and conditioning 1 day a week. Everything was going pretty well until she took her very first master class last Monday. DD pushed so hard in that class and she tweaked her knee pretty good. She was in so much pain she had trouble walking for 3 days afterward. We ended up taking her to the hospital that  her PT also works at and got imaging  done. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Still the PT did an exam and thought she might have subluxated her patella. She gave DD a really supportive brace and that has helped a lot.

DD is still in mild pain but wants to return to “active participation” in the  class (since being able to walk again she goes to class and sits and observes but since she is starting to feel a bit better she wants to dance). Both PT and the director say not yet and they want her to wait until no pain and even  then integrate slowly back in. They do not want her to injure herself again.

So what does reentry into ballet class look like after pain is gone? Barre first, then x, then y? We’ve never really dealt with an injury before so I want to help her manage this correctly. DD has some lofty goals for  this 2018 ballet year and the thought of a long term injury will really impact them. I think given enough rest she will be able to get back to normal. But I don’t know how to gauge it. 

DD is a rule follower but also an extremely hard worker who can block out mild pain. I want to help her know when to take it easy. When a dancer feels no more pain, do they attempt a full class or only part? 

I’m new to all of this and your advice is appreciated.


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Her PT will be the best person to give her parameters.  She will need to go slowly and follow her PT’s recommendations.  Learning patience and listening to her body are  important skills—-and very hard to learn.  Dancers want to move!  But as she saw, doing too much too soon only delays getting back to full strength. 

She’s very young and any time off seems like too much.  But she’s young and she has lots of time.  The time it takes to get back to full strength properly in the grand scheme of things is short.  She needs to look at the grand scheme of time in dancing—-not this short-term window.

Go slowly and deliberately and she will get back sooner than she if she rushes.  Her PT—especially one familiar with dancers and/or ballet—will know when she should hold back and when she should push.  It may not be a straight linear path, but two steps forward, one step back, one step forward, two steps back.  She does need to develop patience with her body.  She will get back. :thumbsup:

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I have a very tall dd (15) who has been seeing a PT for some years. She has had a lot of growth and it has definitely slowed her down. Tall dancers are just a little bit later to bloom because of their ongoing growth, it creates stress in the muscles and ligaments and can be frustrating for the dancer. 

But here is the silver lining, these kids who start with PT fairly young really do learn to listen to their bodies. Right now your dancer may be focusing on her goals for the year, but if she listens to her body and plays it a bit on the safe side, she will reach those goals. Perhaps they need to be discussed with the PT to determine what is a good goal for this year and what should be saved for next year's goal list. During growth spurts turns are off, balance is off, bodies become more stiff...be careful that she doesn't set unreasonable goals for her body at this time of growth, she will just be frustrated and may push her body too much.

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Thank you both for the responses. One of her goals was pretty reasonable. She was on a good trajectory for achieving it until the injury. The director knows about DD goals and specifically said if DD backs off and eases back into things slowly she will have no problem meeting this goal. Director said conversely,  pushing harder would be detrimental to both DD short term and long term goals. 

I am very grateful her director is so understanding and proactive about injuries and recovery. Now is the time for DD to have patience.

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