Ballet Tips For Beginners

ballet tips for beginners

If you are looking at starting ballet classes, especially as an adult, you will probably be looking for ballet tips for beginners, so these are some of my tips on how to start training for ballet, especially if you start when you are older than the normal age of five.

If you are an adult wanting to get good at ballet you will need to be spending at least three hours a week in class, especially if you are an adult beginner, as your body has set, and the movements will be a little more difficult to master than a child whose body is still soft and pliable.

You will also need a lot of work in the beginning so that your body can learn the muscle memory required for ballet so be patient with yourself during the first year or two while your body learns what it should be doing.

Learning your basic arm and leg positions is a good idea to do before you attend your first official ballet lesson.

Ballet Tips For Beginners

ballet tips beginners

These ballet tips are designed for the older beginner who would like to take his or her dancing to the next level, and not just somebody who is doing ballet for fun and exercise purposes.

Ballet Tip Number One:

Don’t Be Obsessed With Your Body Shape

The body shape is really important in ballet and some people are born with that perfect ballerina body. But for the majority of us, we have to make the best out of what we are given. Learning ballet will give you grace and improve your posture, so already you will have a major advantage over the majority of the population.

Work hard in class and concentrate on what muscles should be activated at what times, and in this way, you will always improve on what you have.

Supplement your ballet training with some yoga and Pilates as this will strengthen and tone all the right muscles.

Ballet Tip Number Two:

Learn To Take Correction

Your teacher is there to give you help and correct your technique. Sometimes it may feel as if she is picking on you, but this is not the case, and you will most likely find that she is only trying to help you to be the best dancer that you can be.

If you get corrected, try to absorb and work on the correction as the smaller details are what is going to make you the better dancer in the end.

Ballet Tip Number Three:

Do It Often

Ballet is not something you are going to improve in if you choose to take one lesson a week. The more you do it the better you will get. One lesson a week students generally are in the class to get some exercise and not to actually improve their dancing skills in a hurry.

Ballet Tip Number Four:

Listen To Your Body

Ballet is a physically demanding art that requires your body to do all sorts of things that are not normal.

Don’t try to get there in a day. Work consistently to strengthen your muscles and don’t force your joints to do things that they are not ready for.

Some of the most common mistakes beginners (and even more experienced dancers) make that can cause damage to their bodies are:

  • forcing their feet to turn out instead of using the hips to turn out the legs and feet.
  • trying to do dangerous leaps and jumps without learning to land properly first.
  • going into pointe shoes before the muscles are sufficiently trained.
  • doing backbends without supporting them with your core muscles.
  • forcing or bouncing stretches. Consistent gentle stretching will get you there in the long run.
  • only do what your body feels comfortable doing, so if you have bad knees, don’t do full plies, or if you have back problems don’t kick your leg too high behind you.

ballet tips for beginners

Ballet Tip Number 5:

Stretch Often

Try to do some stretching every day, as having a flexible body will leave you less prone to injury, and your dancing will also look better if your body can move freely.

For some great stretching routines I highly recommend this stretching article and the course recommended at the end of it.

Ballet Tip Number 6:

Practice, Practice And Then Practice Some More

During class time, take advantage of the time you have in the studio and with a teacher.

Put in your best effort all the time and don’t be tempted to do anything half-way because you are getting tired. If you channel your energy into the right places, you will get the results you are wanting.

More Ballet Tips For you:

Here is a great video to give you more tips on the actual ballet steps that you are learning and doing.

If you have any more ballet tips for beginners, please feel free to add them to the comments section below.

How To Cure Plantar Fasciitis

plantar fasciitis stretch

Plantar fasciitis is a pretty common ailment amongst runners, walkers and even unfortunately dancers. In this post, I will look at how to cure Plantar Fasciitis with the use of some great stretches that are important for the flexibility and range of motion of the lower leg, ankle and foot muscles.

Good flexibility around the ankle and foot allows for unrestricted, pain-free movement of the ankle, foot and arch, so it makes sense to stretch out these muscles on a regular basis whether or not you have Plantar Fasciitis.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia). The plantar fascia acts as your shock absorber, but if it becomes inflamed it can be very painful.

It is most commonly caused by strain injury causing micro-tears to the ligament as it attaches to the heel bone or other areas of tightness on the sole of the foot.

How To Cure Plantar Fasciitis

Here are some quick relief tips that may help you if you find that the pain is too much to cope with.

Wear Supportive Footwear

Wear shoes that provide good arch support and have a low heal, especially if you’re going to be on your feet a lot. This helps to support your plantar fascia and prevent them from becoming inflamed or more inflamed.

Your doctor may recommend orthotic shoe inserts or foot pads to help distribute your weight more evenly, especially if you have high arches or flat feet.

You can get them ready-made at most pharmacies, or your doctor can have some made custom for your feet. The shoes below either has built-in orthotics or you can put the orthotic that your doctor gives you into the shoe.

Click on the links or on the pictures if you want to find out more about the products mentioned.

ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 5 Running Shoe, Silver Grey/Turquoise/Lime Punch, 9 M US

These Asics are 100% synthetic, have a rubber sole, arch support and a gel cushioning system.

You can remove the sock liner and put more supportive orthotics inside if need be.

Vionic Women’s Agile Kea Slip-on Black Black 7.5M US

These comfy shoes are great orthotic trainers. They are firm for support, yet flexible and there is a removable textile-covered EVA orthotic insert inside.

SOARFREE Plantar Fasciitis Feet Sandal with Arch Support – Best Orthotic flip Flops for Flat Feet,Heel Pain- for Women (9 M US, Black)

These sandals are beyond comfortable. They have a built-in orthotic which has been shown to be effective in helping to treat pain that is associated with plantar fasciitis.

It also helps with a mild to moderate pronation of the foot, metatarsal pain, heel and arch discomfort, flat feet, sore feet and other common foot ailments.

The sandals are lightweight, flexible and have controlled cushioning that reduces stress on the heels, feet and knees.

Essential Oils

Applying Lavender essential oil may help as it has anti-inflammatory properties that make it a possible treatment for pain caused by inflammation.

Try diluting a drop or two in a carrier oil, such as olive or coconut oil, and massaging it into the bottoms of your feet. You can also try adding a few drops to a warm foot bath.

If you regularly wear the same shoes to exercise, make sure to replace them from time to time. Signs that you need a new pair include:

  • wear on the outsoles
  • stretching of the heels
  • moulding of the insoles to the shape of your foot
  • breakdown of shoe interior
  • new blisters forming on your feet
  • new pain in your feet, legs, or back

Runners should replace their athletic shoes every 400–500 miles. Nonrunners should replace athletic shoes every six months or so, depending on how often you wear them.

Massage

You can perform simple massage techniques to soothe the pain in your heels. Use your thumbs to massage your arches and heels, working from the balls of your feet up to your heel. You can also use a golf ball to massage your arches. Put your foot on the golf ball, hang on to a stable item, and roll the golf ball under your arches.

Use Ice On The Affected Area

An ice pack like the one pictured here that can be purchased online can help to reduce inflammation.

Cover your ice pack if you need to with a cloth or thin towel and hold it over the painful area three to four times daily for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

Use A Tennis Ball

Gently massage your foot by rolling it on a tennis ball. Concentrate on the areas that are sensitive.

Lose Some Weight

Carrying extra weight puts more pressure on your plantar fascia. If you’re overweight, losing a few pounds can help to alleviate some of that pressure.

Rest

Sometimes, plantar fasciitis is a sign that your feet simply need to rest, especially if you regularly do high-impact sports. Giving your feet a break for a few days can help to reduce inflammation and let your plantar fascia heal. While you heal, try a low-impact activity like swimming.

Plantar Fasciitis Stretches

Running, Sprinting, Track, Cross Country, Walking, Dancing, gymnastics and any sport that involves jumping or explosive movement will benefit by using plantar fasciitis stretches regularly.how to cure plantar fasciitis

While performing the plantar fasciitis stretches below there are a number of muscles within the lower leg and arch of the foot that are stretched.

Below is a comprehensive list of the anatomical muscle names involved in the following plantar fasciitis stretches.

  • Tibialis posterior (Upper calf);
  • Soleus (Lower calf and Achilles);
  • Flexor hallucis longus, Flexor digitorum longus, Peroneus longus and brevis (Lower calf);
  • Flexor digitorum brevis, Abductor hallucis, Abductor digiti minimi, Quadratus plantae (Arch of the foot); and
  • Flexor hallucis brevis, Adductor hallucis, Flexor digiti minimi brevis (Arch of the foot);

As with any activity, there are rules and guidelines to ensure that they are safe and stretching is no exception.

Stretching can be harmful and cause injury if done incorrectly, so make sure that you follow these guidelines below:

  • Warm-up the muscles you want to stretch before you begin.
  • Don’t hold your breath because holding your breath can cause tension in your body and in your muscles. Breathe deeply and relax while performing your stretches.
  • Never force a stretch beyond the point of mild tension. Stretching tight muscles, and especially the muscles in the arch of the foot, can be uncomfortable, but you should never feel acute pain. Move into the stretch until you can feel mild tension and if you do feel any pain, stop immediately.
  • It’s obviously difficult to stretch if your clothes are too tight, so make sure that they are loose, comfortable and don’t restrict your movement.
  • Be consistent because stretching for a few minutes each day will gradually build flexibility and range of motion. This is far preferable to stretching only once a week for a longer time.

Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 1

Kneel with one leg at the back and one leg in the front. Bring your front foot in underneath you and push gently on the knee, taking your body forward.  Make sure your foot is still flat on the floor. You will feel your ankle and back of heel stretching, and possibly also feel pressure on the front of the ankle.

plantar fasciitis stretch

Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Repeat on the other side then repeat 2 or 3 times.

Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 2

Kneel on one foot with your hands on the ground. Place your body weight over your knee and slowly move your knee forward.

plantar fasciitis stretch

Keep your toes on the ground and arch your foot. Hold this stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds and repeat at least 2 to 3 times on each side.

Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 3

Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 4 and 5

Want more Plantar Fasciitis Stretches?

This book can be purchased on Amazon and is one of their best sellers, so you know the advice works.

The 5-Minute Plantar Fasciitis Solution

Jim Johnson, P.T. is a physical therapist who has spent over 28 years treating both inpatients and outpatients with a wide range of pain and mobility problems – from back pain to heart transplants to neuromuscular disorders.

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I trust that this post has helped you in your quest of how to cure plantar fasciitis. if you have any comments or anything to add, please fill in the form below this post.

Foot Problems In Dancers

foot problems

In this article on foot problems that dancers have to contend with, let’s have a look at Metatarsal Stress Fractures and Plantar Fascitis.  

Foot Problems Dancers Suffer From

Metatarsal Stress Fractures

Almost all stress fractures are caused by overuse or overworking of those specific body parts. Stress fractures can occur in any bone of the foot, ankle, knee, hip or spine.  

The base of the second metatarsal is the most common place for ballet dancers to get stress fractures.  Stress fractures won’t normally show up on an X-ray, but will normally be picked up with an MRI or bone scan.  The symptoms of stress fractures can include pain, tenderness, and soreness in the middle of the foot or feet.

foot problems

Dancers that are most prone to stress fractures in their feet normally have rigid and highly arched feet with long second metatarsals. Poor nutrition can also cause hormonal and metabolic deficiencies, which ultimately lead to injuries.

Full recovery after a stress fracture is very slow and can take as long as four months from when the treatment begins.  At first, you will need to take a complete break from dancing, but as you feel better, you can resume gentle ballet barre movements and avoid things like releves and jumps until you are totally free of pain.

Avoid stress fractures by avoiding intense increases in your dancing schedules.  Make sure that your ballet shoes offer you ample support for your feet.  If you feel any pain in your feet stop dancing immediately, although this is often easier said than done.

Plantar Fascitis

The plantar fascia is a firm and fibrous tissue on the underside of the foot that joins the front inner aspect of the heel to the base of the toes. The plantar fascia supports the arch of the foot and when the ballet dancer is on demi pointe the plantar fascia is pulled taut which helps support, raise and stabilize the arch of your foot.

Plantar Fascitis is an inflammation of the plantar fascia and the main symptom is a pain on the bottom of the foot when getting out of bed in the morning and putting weight on it.  The sharpest pain will normally be at the heel.

The treatment of this ailment is rest, rest, and more rest.  

Alternate between warm and cold foot baths and stay off your feet as much as possible.  Stretching and calf massages may also help.  Once a bit better gradually increase your activity levels and put ice on your feet after dancing class.  

Supportive elastic tape wrapped around the arches will also help.  If necessary have some physical therapy which includes ultrasound and massage.  Wear sturdy shoes and no jumping until your feet are pain-free.

In order to prevent plantar fascitis happening to you, do toe strengthening exercises and calf stretches.  Rolling in at the ankle is a no-no and if you are prone to rolling inwards, you may need some orthotics for your street shoes.  Avoid walking barefoot if you are prone to this and try to wear cushioned footwear with a slight heel.

 Looking after your body and your feet will go a long way to ensuring you have a long and pain free ballet dancing career and you will possibly avoid foot problems.

How To Protect Your Feet, Ankles, Calves And Legs

how to protect your feet

As a ballet dancer, you know that your feet, ankles, calves, and legs are your most valuable assets. Let’s look at ways on how to protect your feet and safeguard your lower extremities, as well as common injuries and how you can avoid them.

how to protect your feetHow To Protect Your Feet And What To Watch For Dancers

Flexor Hallucis Longus Tendinitis

Flexor Hallucis Longus Tendinitis is, unfortunately, a common ailment in ballet dancers. Your calf muscles provide the power to point your feet, and the flexor hallucis longus is the tendon directly responsible for pointing the big toe and helps you to stabilize your ankle on pointe.

This tendon runs through a sheath on the underside of the inner ankle bone and along the bottom of the foot. If you have flexor hallucis longus tendinitis, you will feel pain on the inner side of the ankle behind the bone and just in front of the Achilles tendon when you go up on pointe or when you point your foot.

To prevent this happening in the first place make sure to warm up and stretch well before dance class. Avoid excessive rolling in of the feet, pointing the toes to forcefully, and over-rehearsing.

how to protect your feet

See a doctor if you feel catching or clicking in the sheath of the muscle, as this is a sign of chronic inflammation.

If this condition is left untreated, it can result in weakening, thickening and even tearing of the tendon.

Sprained and Twisted Ankles

Another common ailment in ballet dancing is sprained or twisted ankles.

The ankle is a vulnerable joint and is prone to sprains, especially when the foot is forcefully twisted or turned inward. This most commonly occurs when the dancers land incorrectly after jumping, especially when overtired.

It also occurs a lot by people just misjudging when doing something as simple as walking down steps. This twisting can also tear ligaments.

Most dancers will know when they have twisted an ankle but just in case, the signs are swelling and pain when putting any weight on their foot. Sprains can be minor or severe, so it is best to consult with a doctor for proper treatment.

Treatment will normally involve resting, ice, compression, and elevation. Sprains can take from ten days to three months to heal, depending on the severity.

To limit the odds of this happening to you, try to strengthen and condition all the muscles that support the ankle. Also check the floor that you are dancing on is smooth and clear of debris, and not too slippery.

More Insights On How To Protect Your Feet

Those little feet at the other end of your body take a lot of beating over the years, whether you are a dancer or not.

Here are some other things you can look at when it comes to how to protect your feet.

Lose Weight

Excess fat is hell for your feet. A survey of more than 6,000 respondents by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society found that 41 percent of people with foot pain reported gaining weight before the soreness set in.

Most people visiting a physician for foot or ankle pain, or changing shoes based on a doctor’s advice had an average BMI of nearly 28; a healthy range is 18.5 to 24.9.

The more you weigh, the greater the stress you place on the bones, ligaments, and tendons in your feet. Being too heavy can cause fatty tissue to break down under your heel and contribute to Plantar Fascitis, which is the inflammation of the bottom of the foot between the ball and the heel.

Choose Function Rather Than Fashion

Because each and every foot is different, it really pays to get your running or walking shoes from a store that specializes in helping you find the right fit rather than ordering a pair online because you like how they will look.

Your local store should analyze how you run or walk and help you find the best shoes to fit your needs.

(Even if you’re not a runner, shoe specialists can fit you with good trainers based on the activities you do).

Ideally, the shoes you choose will provide support in the places you need it in order to reduce the risk of overuse injuries, stress fractures, and knee pain, which can occur if your shoes don’t fit properly. how to protect your feet

Don’t Wear Shoes That Are Too Narrow

Wearing shoes that are too narrow causes bunions over the long haul. This includes ill-fitting pointe shoes, dancers. Bunions can cause severe pain and swelling and may require surgery to remove them.

Shoes that are too narrow at the toe area can also cause ingrown toenails, which as we all know are not fun to have.

In Conclusion

If you do any high impact activity, such as running, dancing, aerobics, make sure to take special note of the surfaces that you do these activities on.

Running on concrete is very straining on the entire leg.

Doing high impact activities on floors that don’t have any give in them is the opposite of how to protect your feet.

Your feet have to last you forever, so start learning to protect your feet starting today.

RICE Treatment For Dancers

rice treatment
Have you heard of RICE Treatment?

RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate.

Even the most careful of ballet dancers or any athlete can get injuries, but fortunately, our bodies have the remarkable capacity to heal themselves. The best thing to do if you incur a ballet dancing injury as a dancer is to see a doctor if something is really swollen, painful, or you suspect a fracture or other serious damage.rice treatment

It is sometimes difficult to rely on instinct when deciding how much you can safely attempt when you have a ballet dancing injury, so rather check with your doctor or physical therapist if in doubt.  At times you may need to rest and at other times you may just need to modify your routine.  It is always best to avoid aggravating a ballet dancing injury, no matter how minor it may seem.

Many sports medicine experts recommend RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to minimize swelling and pain when you have any sports or dance related injury.

Rest:

The human body is normally good at healing itself, but it will need lots of rest in order to do this.  The moment you feel an injury coming on rest.  In this way, you will be less likely to further stress the damaged body part. Rather do isometric exercises under a doctor’s advice, than go back to heavy classes and schedules too soon, tempting as it may seem.

Ice:

If ice is applied immediately to an injury, it will be effective in reducing the swelling and pain of the injured body part. Using crushed ice in a dish towel, or even a bag of frozen peas both work well.

Keep the ice on the injury just long enough to be effective, and not so long as to cause discomfort or frostbite.  In the hours after the injury has occurred use ice on and off for about twenty minutes at a time.  Make sure to cover the entire area and protect your skin with a damp cloth.  Ice should be used frequently for the first three to five days after the injury several times a day, and then decreased to once or twice a day after activity or exercise.

Compression:

Compression is another way to reduce swelling, and you can do this with an elastic wrap.  Make sure that the pressure is applied evenly and it should feel comfortable and not too tight.  If your skin turns red or white at the edges of the compression, then it is too tight.  Use the wrap until the swelling goes down, or until the compression is more bothersome than helpful.

Elevation:

If you elevate the injured part of your body, this will also reduce swelling.  Try to raise the injury above heart level as much as possible.  Elevation is also important as you sleep, and you should keep elevating for as long as there is swelling.

Some physical therapists add a P in front of RICE, to make the word PRICE.  The P stands for protection in the form of slings, braces, splints, crutches or taping, which all help to prevent further ballet dancing injuries.

So next time you sprain or twist something, remember RICE treatment.

Knee Injuries In Dancers – Prevention Is Better Than Cure

knee injuries in dancers
Knee injuries in dancers are not uncommon, as the knee joint is very complicated and in a way also sensitive to injury, especially amongst both dancers and athletes.
Knees although they seem simple, are one of the most complex joints in the human body.
The knees and knee joints are hot spots for ballet dancers and almost all other athletes.  As there is turnout involved with ballet dancing, this poses extra challenges for this complex confluence of ligaments, cartilage, tendons, bones and muscles.
There are also numerous things that can go wrong with your knees ranging from minor to major. However, using a bit of common sense and preventative measures, you and your knees will be able to go on dancing for a long time to come.
knee injuries in dancers

Why Are There Knee Injuries In Dancers?

A lot of knee problems result in either an uneven balance in muscle strength or weak muscles.  The hamstring and quadriceps muscle group control the knee’s functioning and help the ligaments to give stability and support to the knee joint.
Your alignment in the pelvis, as well as the strength in the pelvic girdle, can also have a direct effect on the functioning and well-being of your knees.
A lot of knee injuries in dancers, especially ballet dancers are due to forcing the feet to turn out without engaging the correct muscles in the hips.
Ballet dancers must not try not to force their turnout beyond their capabilities, by over-rotating at the knees and ankles.  If you over rotate, the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula), these will work against the upper leg bone (femur), and the knee joint takes unnatural strain and trauma, and will be more prone to injuries, especially if force is used while the knee is straightening or even coming down from a jump.
For more information on turnout, click here.

Common Knee Injuries In Dancers

 Here is a short description of some of the things that could go wrong with your knees.

Meniscus Injury

Meniscus injury happens when the c-shaped piece of cartilage that curves within your knee joint gets tears. Your symptoms here will include pain, swelling and the inability to straighten the knee completely.

Tendonitis

Tendonitis is an irritation and swelling of one or more of the tendons in the knee.
This happens most commonly in runners, skiers, and cyclists.  The symptoms here include pain in one or both knees, swelling below the knee cap, the inability to straighten the knee completely, and a deepening pain on squatting or climbing stairs.

Torn Ligaments

The knee has four ligaments that connect the femur to the tibia and fibula.  A torn ligament can happen with a bad fall or other severe trauma, and you will probably hear a popping sound.
Other symptoms include immediate pain that worsens on walking or bending, a feeling that the knee will buckle or give in and an inability to bear weight on the knee.  Hyperextended legs are more prone to ligament tears.

Patella-Femoral Syndrome

Patella-Femoral Syndrome is a general term used to describe pain affecting the joint surface between the patella and the femur underneath. Behind the patella is a cartilage lining that provides a smooth gliding surface between the two bones. When the cartilage under the patella softens or wears away, this results in pain and inflammation.

This happens over a period of time, and you will notice pain in class when you do a plie or jump.

Overuse during training and technique or mechanical faults by the dancer can aggravate this condition.

Dancers will need to ice and gell regularly. Also, they should consult a professional here.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the inflammation and degenerative breakdown of the cartilage lining the ends of the bones within a joint.

Healthy cartilage will normally protect the joint, allowing for smooth movement and shock absorption. Without the usual amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.

The most common causes of osteoarthritis in the knees are previous injuries, joint overuse, and aging. It is also suspected that there is a genetic component to the disease. You may have little or no complaints of knee pain until the disease has progressed significantly. With significant arthritis, you will start to notice pain with many activities, including walking, ascending stairs, and even at rest.

Osteoarthritis will need to be confirmed with an X-ray. There is presently no cure for this and it is a degenerative condition.

Try to maintain existing flexibility in the knee joint to help prevent injuries caused by friction. A physician may recommend anti-inflammatory medication to assist with pain relief. A consult with a chiropractor is also helpful to determine if strength deficits or imbalances exist and help to correct them. Severe conditions may require total knee replacement surgery once pain becomes no longer tolerable.

Patellar Malalignment/Dislocation

This looks scary, and I have seen it happen to classmates.

A displaced patella occurs when the kneecap (patella) slips out of its groove on the thigh bone (femur).

Often the kneecap will slip out of its groove momentarily and then relocate. This is known as a patellar subluxation and can happen repeatedly. A patellar dislocation is when the kneecap slips out of its groove and will not relocate. This is a very painful condition and usually, requires a physician to assist with relocation.

This can happen with sudden changes of direction, running or jumping.

Seek immediate help from a professional, as this condition is very painful. The doctor will usually be able to reposition the knee with physical manipulation, but x-rays will be needed to rule out fractures.

If this happens often, the knee may need to be immobilized or placed in a brace for several weeks. You will also need to go to a chiropractor for rehabilitation to restore the strength and range of motion to help prevent reoccurrence.

Severe conditions may require surgery.

Ballet dancers must learn to respect the natural boundaries of their bodies.  Some dancers do have restricted turnout, and work can be done to improve this, but it must never be forced.  Knees usually only get injured with incorrect technique, so careful attention must be made to concentrate on the alignment of your body.
So, as far as possible, follow a sensible dance schedule that doesn’t overtax your body and very importantly your mind in order to avoid knee injuries in dancers.

Prevent Achilles Tendon Injuries In Your Dancing

achilles tendonitis causes

prevent achilles tendon injuriesEven though the Achilles Tendon is the strongest and thickest of all the tendons in the human body it is still subject to injuries, and as a dancer, you want to try to prevent Achilles Tendon Injuries.

What Is An Achilles Tendon?

The Achilles Tendon is a fibrous piece of tissue and connects the calf muscle (gastrocnemius) to the heel bone.  The Achilles Tendon’s function in ballet dancing is to pull the heel up to enable you to point your foot and to releve up onto Demi Pointe or even pointe.
The Achilles Tendon also softens the impact on your foot when landing after your jumps.
Other functions include standing on your toes, walking, running and jumping. Did you know that the Achilles Tendon can withstand up to 10 times a person’s body weight?
Because the Achilles tendon is subject to a person’s entire body weight with each step we take, it is no wonder that this tendon is subject to so many injuries, like Achilles Tendonitis.  Here are a few of the more common Achilles Tendon injuries and how to prevent Achilles tendon injuries.

Achilles Tendonitis

You would normally have Achilles Tendonitis if you heard a creaking sound in your calf, or felt pain above the heel.  If it hurts to flex and point, the Achilles Tendon may be inflamed.  It will also hurt to press down on the back of your calf muscle with your finger.  Some people are more prone to Achilles Tendonitis, especially people with thin tendons or feet that bear more weight on the inside of the foot.
To prevent Achilles Tendon injuries it would be wise for a person whose feet pronate inwards to get a good pair of orthotic inserts made for their shoes.
To prevent Achilles tendonitis, a ballet dancer has to stretch her calf muscles regularly.  Strengthening the muscles that control landings also helps. This includes the lower back, abdominals, pelvis, legs and feet.
Avoid dancing on concrete or very hard floors at all costs and be sure to have adequate shock absorption in your shoes.  Take extra care when doing your demi plies that you do not roll at the ankles. When landing after jumps, also make sure to put your heels down before taking off again.
If you leave Achilles tendonitis unchecked, it can become a long-term problem.  At the first sign of discomfort, modify your activity levels and apply ice twice a day until the pain has lessened.  Make sure you stretch gently and try to avoid prolonged standing, running, jumping and any other movements that pull on the Achilles Tendon.
If ballet dancers tie their pointe shoe ribbons too tightly, this also creates friction and compression of the mid-Achilles.  It might help to elasticise your pointe shoe ribbons by removing a section of the ribbon and placing a two to three-inch lengths of elastic in-between where the ribbon meets the Achilles Tendon.  Commercially elasticized ribbons are also available for this purpose.
If you have pain above the heel, it may not be Achilles tendonitis. You could also be suffering from posterior impingement of the ankle joint, which is a condition caused by a bone pressing on the soft tissue when the foot points. It could be confused with Achilles tendonitis, as it creates pain in the same area, but an X-ray will help to tell the difference.

Achilles Tendon Rupture

prevent achilles tendon injuriesAnother more serious injury is an Achilles Tendon rupture, which is a partial or complete tear.  This normally comes on suddenly with a characteristic popping sound and is debilitating.
This is not so common in ballet dancers, and happens more with runners, as it usually happens with sudden eccentric stretching like sprinting.
Once the Achilles tendon is ruptured, the individual will not be able to run, climb up the stairs, or stand on his toes. The ruptured Achilles tendon prevents the power from the calf muscles to move the heel.
Normally the individual will need to undergo surgery, depending on the severity of the rupture.
Swelling and bruising around the calf muscle and heel will occur.
Ballet dancers and runners, look after your bodies, prevent Achilles tendon injuries and your body will turn work hard for you!

Ballet Mistakes To Try And Avoid

ballet mistakes

The Teaching of Classical Ballet: Common Faults in Young Dancers and Their Training
ballet mistakes
Here are some common ballet mistakes that dancers need to try and avoid at all costs. Repeat the same mistakes over time can lead to stress and injury to the body.

Ballet Mistakes

Here is a list of the most common ones that we see in the dance class.

Pinching the Shoulder Blades Together

Sometimes in an effort to open up the chest, the dancer opens too wide and the shoulder blades pinch together at the back making a deep line between the shoulder blades. If this happens, the dancer won’t have freedom in her arms and she won’t have any support in the upper spine. This also causes the trapezius and the rhomboid muscles in the back to strain.

In this case the dancer needs to think about widening her shoulders out to the side. It may help to fill the lungs with air and make space in the chest. Think about keeping the hands soft, as if the shoulders are pulled back to much, the hands will feel restricted.

Hyperextended Legs

Some dancers have very hyperextended legs. These are legs that almost look as though they are bending backwards when the knees are stretched. It sometimes becomes a habit to give in to the hyperextension by letting the knees overstretch and the feet part too much when standing in a closed position.

Although the hyperextended leg can look very attractive in dance, especially in the arabesque lines, the dancer needs to take care not to overstretch the leg, as they normally tend to have weak external rotator muscles. The legs will want to collapse in on themselves when landing from jumps, thus causing the body weight to fall over the knees. If hyperextension is not worked with carefully, the joints that maintain the alignment of the legs can be damaged and the dancer could end up with twisted knees or sprained ankles.

The dancer has to train not to give into her hyperextension, and this means she must think of lengthening her legs rather than straightening them. The knee must never lock backwards, and the dancer almost feels like she is dancing on bent legs. The dancer will have to take particular care when training her turnout and keep it activated at all times from the hips.

When the dancer stands in first she must focus on having her feet together and relaxing the quadriceps. If the quads are contracted, the kneecaps are pulled back to much.

Curling the Toes

Curling or clenching the toes is a very common fault. The dancer will either curl her toes while standing flat-footed or when she points. Clenching the toes while standing makes the feet a very unstable platform on which to stand, and this creates problems for the rest of the body, by placing unwanted stress on the joints of the legs. Clenching the toes will also prevent the articulation of the feet, which is so necessary for ballet.

If the dancer has a problem with clenching, make her sit on a chair with the feet on the ground. Drag the feet towards the body and slowly raise to demi-pointe as you do this, working on a forced arch and keeping the toes flat on the floor.

I have also heard that weaving a strip of cloth over the second toe and alternating it below and above the successive toes and leaving it there during barre work and other non-dance activities will help the dancer to start feeling those toes. I have yet to try this method for fixing this ballet mistake.

Rolling the Feet In

ballet mistakesSometimes dancers try to get their feet to turn out more than the hips allow for, and this causes the arches of the feet to roll inwards.  Turnout is always from the hips and is not about forcing your feet open. This ballet mistake places a whole lot of stress on the tendons of the feet and will lead to injuries as the rest of the body will overcompensate for the imbalance when your knees can’t line up over the toes.

The dancer needs to think of turnout as an activity, not a position. Dancers need to concentrate on standing on the heel, the ball of the big toe and the ball of the little toe. These three points must remain in contact with the floor at all times when the foot is flat on the floor.

Over-Arching of the Spine

This is one of the most common ballet mistakes. The tummy muscles are not supporting the spine, which causes the lower back over arch and the tail bone to stick out at the back. The pelvis must neither tip back or tuck under, otherwise, the range of motion in the hips will be limited.

The dancer should think of having her tailbone down and her navel lifted upwards. Think of the four T’s – no tucking, tilting, twisting or tipping of the hips.

In order for a dancer to fix her ballet mistakes and habits, she needs to stay mindful and focused throughout her class. When trying to fix a problem, the dancer will really need to focus on that mistake for a while, but as the muscle memory kicks in, it won’t be so much hard thinking anymore, as the body will take over.

 

 

How To Cure Shin Splints

how to cure shin splints

how to cure shin splintsLots of people, not just dancers, suffer from shin splints, and how to cure shin splints is a question a lot of people are asking.

What Are Shin Splints and how do you get Shin Splints?

Shin splints, which are also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, is defined as pain along the inner edge of the shin bone or tibia. A person will feel pain in the lower region of the leg between the knee and the ankle.

Shin splints are the most common leg injury and affect mostly runners, dancers, and military personnel undergoing basic training. Shin splints are generally caused by the effects of repeated running and jumping.

It usually happens when an individual suddenly ramps up their workout intensity, or runners change the surface that they run on. Shin splints can also happen when doing high impact exercise on an unyielding surface like concrete.

Excessively tight calf muscles can also lead to shin splints, so make sure to stretch out those calves after exercising.

How To Cure Shin Splints

Shin splints more than often heal on their own, but the following guidelines can be followed on how to cure shin splints faster:

  • Rest your body, as you will need time to heal. If you carry on jumping or running with shin splints, the pain will worsen.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory. Aspirin, ibuprofen, and similar type drugs will help with the pain and swelling. Just be aware these drugs do have side effects and should be used in moderation.
  • Put ice on your shins to ease the pain and swelling. Ice your shins for about 20 to 30 minutes a day every 3 to 4 hours for a couple of days or until the pain has gone.
  • Visit your doctor for a thorough physical exam. He can see how you run and check for problems. He may also do X-rays to check for fractures. In rare cases, you may need an operation if you have a severe stress fracture that caused the shin splints in the first place.
  •  Use orthotics in your shoes to support your arches. In a lot of cases, shin splints are caused by incorrect alignment of the foot like Collapsing Archeshow to cure shin splints.
  • Your doctor will recommend some exercises for range of motion. Make sure you do them.
  • Try a neoprene sleeve around your calf to warm and support your leg.
  • Grab The 7 Step Shin Splints Treatment Plan by clicking here.

How Do I Know When My Shin Splints Are Cured?

You will know you are better when your injured leg is as flexible as your other leg, and your injured leg feels just as strong as your other leg.

You also won’t feel any pain when running or jumping.

Have you had shin splints?

Please share your experiences below.