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5 Common Ballet Ailments And How To Manage Them

by | Apr 27, 2015 | Articles, Lifestyle, Mind | Body | Health

It may look beautiful, but ballet technique definitely has the potential to produce aches and pains, or at least aggravate existing ones. Whichever area of your body is giving you trouble, consider five common sources of pain and how you can manage their negative effects.

*This overview is not intended to diagnose or treat any existing medical condition. Consult your doctor.

1. Sciatica

sciatica, back pain

If you feel acute (or dull) pain traveling through your hamstrings and lower back, you may be experiencing compression of the sciatic nerve. This can be exacerbated by arabesques and grand battements. Also, tension in the hips and piriformis can develop from the constant act of turnout. Alternative therapies such as chiropractic care, Swedish massage, and mild yoga may encourage better mobility and offer some relief.

2. Shin splints

ballet dancer legs shin splints

Have you ever had trouble walking the day after class? With every step you take, you feel a sharp stab in the front part of your lower legs. Shin splints are an inflammation of the tibia, and may be soothed with a combination of RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). When performing jumps and leaps, such as sautés, be careful to roll through your arch, landing balls of the feet first. This will reduce added shock to the joints and protect the surrounding tendons.

3. Plantar Fasciitis

pain with plantar fasciitis, feet in fifth position

Ballet requires you to be on your feet for prolonged periods of time, and this can cause problems for the arch and heels. Sometimes, a genetic predisposition, or flat feet are the culprit. Excessive pressure and poor technique, however, can cause severe structural damage. For instance, when standing in first or fifth position, be aware that you are not rolling your arches inward, which can create undue strain and throw your alignment out of whack. Regular, mild stretching of the achilles tendon and calf muscles will help prevent this issue.

4. Bursitis

dancers arm shoulder to wrist

When the cushioning between the joints becomes inflamed, you could be suffering from bursitis. Perhaps you have knee pain, or it hurts to keep your arm outstretched in à la seconde. If you struggle to hold your shoulder up, ask your teacher if you can leave your hand on your hip throughout the combination. This allows the joint to rest without any major sacrifice to your technique. If you have bursitis in your knees, do not attempt grand plié, or jumps that will compromise your knee.

5. Blisters

sore foot with blisters

Almost every dancer has had a blister at some point. They may not be life-threatening, but they still hurt and can become infected if not properly treated. For good measure, make sure your shoes are properly fitted and use bandaids if needed. If your shoes are too tight, it can cause unnecessary abrasion of the skin and lead to blisters. Otherwise, keep the blister, cool, clean, and let it breathe until it heals.

These are some general guidelines to support a healthy and happy dancer. Always consult your physician.

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Hi I’m Nikki, The Last Dancer. My whole life has been influenced by dancing and this shop focuses on items that speak to a dancer’s entire lifestyle. If you found yourself here, my hope is that this website offers you inspiration too. The shop contains my own products and the blog is original content.

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