Dance injuries? That doesn’t happen! Well…maybe sometimes. Having been a dancer myself for 16 years, I’m very familiar with the probability of injuries occurring throughout a dancers’ career. Ballet dancers have a very unique way of practicing, exercising, and performing; they do a majority of it in a turned out position. While this positioning makes the movements of a dancer beautiful and elegant, it is an unnatural position for the body, making the possibility for injury even that much higher. What does this all mean?
The external rotators of the hip (the muscles used to make that beautiful turnout) often become tight and weak. External rotators are stabilizers of the hip and upper leg, if these are weak, the hips are not supporting the lower body correctly. This can lead to knee pain or injuries, foot pain or injuries, and overall decreased support of your legs, which we all know are very important to this art.
How do you prevent these injuries you ask? First, you need to lengthen those tight muscles by stretching your piriformis and the other external rotators of the hip. Second, you need to strengthen the hip stabilizers by doing exercises such as the clams, pretzels, and bridges, etc. (found on our website exercise.robbinspt.com). These should be done a couple of times a day.
How do you know if you’re using these muscles correctly? I’ll teach you a trick. Stand in first position, now look at your feet in a mirror. Are your arches rolled forward or touching the ground? Are your knees facing out at a different angle than your feet? Now do a demi plie, are your knees over your first toes instead of your 2- 3 toes? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are most likely not using your hip muscles correctly and they need to be strengthened. This is when it helps to have a second pair of eyes to look at your technique.
So, come in to Robbins Rehabilitation, ask for Holly, and let me take a look….you may be surprised at what we find!