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Injury Prevention & Rehab as a Dancer

As a dancer, you most likely have at least one delicate, injury-prone area that plagues you over and over again. Whether it shows up as major damage that leaves you sidelined for a time while you nurse yourself back to health, or little niggling pains that call for extra diligence in warming up sufficiently and icing post rehearsal, these serve as constant reminders of the fragile nature of our careers (and our bodies!).

If you’ve ever been injured to the point of serving time on the bench, you know how detrimental this can be. Not only do you have the physical pain to deal with, but you have to watch as your hard-earned roles are given away to other dancers. Maybe you experience guilt for letting your company down. Maybe you’ve lost contracts because of an injury, or had to bow out of a performance season before it even started because your body couldn’t realistically handle the demands.

A friend of mine recently told me that her entire company was pretty much out of commission due to injuries and pending surgeries. The director had to hire a completely new cast of dancers for their season. No matter that these were talented, young dancers who had been familiar with the dancing style of the company and worked there for years…they had to be replaced because they simply couldn’t fulfill their contracts.

Getting injured as a dancer is a huge expense financially, not only in terms of having to pay for the doctor visits, surgery bills, and the physical therapy afterwards, but also because that is time spent not dancing – where you’re not earning your paycheck. Not to mention the brutal reality that you could risk losing your contract completely and be out of a job if you are out of commission for too long.

Perhaps even more devastating than the financial loss is the emotional damage that occurs with an injury. All you can do is sit there with your ice pack glued to your ankle as you watch all the progress you’ve made slip through your fingers. You wonder if you’ll ever be able to get back to where you once were…let alone reach your dreams and goals for your future. Anyone who has experienced an injury knows this crushing fear all too well.

Luckily, just sitting around moping is not your only option. Whether you are a dancer coming back from an injury and need to take special care of yourself, or whether you’ve had an annoying problem area for years that you just can’t seem to get to go away, you want to use the most efficient methods to get you back to fighting shape as soon as possible. Bulletproof Ballerina workouts can function essentially as a rehab program for post-injuries, allowing you to build back strength not only in the injured area but also by keeping the rest of your body tuned up and ready to dance. It also acts as a prehab program by fortifying your weak areas to prevent further damage from occurring.

Not only is strength building a huge factor that speeds your recovery, but the seemingly subtle task of reprogramming your muscles to protect your joints without overcompensating for weak areas is a big part of the process as well. An injury is never localized to just that injured area. You often get unrelated pain elsewhere as your body locks up the injured area to protect it and tries to get by without using it. As a result, one injury can turn into several problem areas on your body. And, some of these patterns can really stick in your body even after the injured area returns to normal. This is why it is so beneficial to have a program that focuses on movement patterns and precise body awareness as you rehab from an injury.

I’ve been working with one dancer who has had chronic knee issues for years as a result of muscular imbalances due to Achilles tendinitis in her past. Here are some of the things she had to say after just 4 Bulletproof Ballerina sessions:

"I can feel the area around my right knee starting to feel more like my stronger side on the left, even touching it the muscle is less inflamed…. I have not had one pop or crackle sound in my knee in Pilates classes which is a big change :)”

 

“Since last week, I've been able to bend into a deep grand plié with no strain in my knee, because instead of tightening my quad like crazy and pulling up on the knee, I'm using my seat muscles! I can also feel the muscle getting more and more solid every week and less inflamed…”

Have you been plagued by a recurring trouble area for years? Are you tired of that terrifying thought in the back of your mind: will today be the day that finally breaks me? Are you trying to get back in dancing shape after a major injury, frustrated with the slow progress? Or, do you have a surgery scheduled and want to get as strong as possible to speed up the recovery process afterwards? Contact me to see what steps we can take to help you get back on your feet as soon as possible.

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