Ballet Dancers and Ankle Injuries

A sickled foot...an ankle sprain ready to happen.

A sickled foot...an ankle sprain ready to happen.

In class day after day I watch my young co-worker Professional Dancers forcing turn-out and rolling in on their ankles. I have watched ankle sprains put dancers out for entire  seasons. How many times have you had a teacher try to force your body to do something that you know is just not genetically possible?

The most common types of injuries in Ballet Dancers are in the ankle area. Almost all of these injuries are caused by weaknesses or faulty technique. Forcing turn-out is just one example of poor technique that is sometimes encouraged by Russian ballet instructors. The fact is that most ballet instructors have not studied the human anatomy and biomechanics enough, and simply teach based on what worked for them. The truth is that we’re not all the same and it is not possible to clone dancers.

Without proper form and core strength, it is easy to sit into the calves and ankles to take on the whole weight of the body en pointe. Weak glutes or over-flexible hamstrings can sometimes lead to unstable ankles due to gripping of the calves. What happens when the calves are overused? They tighten up, they feel like rocks, they won’t stretch out. And when the calves lock up, you lose mobility in your foot and ankle.

When calves get tight or tired out after a long variation or pas de deux, some dancers think it is weak calves that are causing the problem. They proceed to do more releves, but never address the real problem. Are you pulling up in your legs when you do releves? Do you feel the releve in the upper hamstring, or are you sitting into the calves?

This is where I have my Professional Dancer clients try a few simple exercises on the Smith Machine  to test their hamstring/glute strength. If they are feeling the exercises mostly in their quadriceps, which you don’t want, I know that there is a lot of work to be done. I will then test the dancers balance on the Bosu Ball or Balance Board standing on one leg.

Whether you are an injured dancer or a healthy one looking to test your strengths and weaknesses,  contact a personal trainer exerpienced in working with dancers. Give yourself the confidence you need to maintain a healthy and long career!

-Nikol Klein, CPT, Professional Ballet Dancer

www.nikolklein.com

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About Nikol Klein

Nikol Klein is former Professional Ballet Dancer turned Women's fitness expert. She currently works with Women all over the world as a personal trainer and Ballet Strength coach to dancers.

Posted on January 1, 2009, in Ballet, Ballet Strength, Injury Prevention, Strength Training for Dancers, Technique Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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