Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ankle Sprains in Ballet Dancers

In class last Thursday we were attempting for the first time pirouettes on pointe from fifth position. A veteran of sorts of pointe, I did not see this as a potential problem. Well, I went to turn en de hors on my right foot, and my ankle went out after me. Fortunately, I did not come crashing down on my behind, but it was still embarrassing and made me even more cautious than I always am.

Ankle injuries, and sprains, are among the most common injuries a ballet dancer will face in their career. Doing the most simple thing, like releving onto pointe, can cause you to tworck your ankle and create an injury. When students graduate to pointe, they need to be especially careful because of the tiny bit of cardboard and fabric and glue they are standing on.

My teacher recommended thinking of two bricks on either side of your ankle, preventing you from wobbling on your pointes. A good suggestion, but not neccesarily something I am going to think of everytime I go on pointe. "Bricks! Bricks!"

Most dancers who experience an ankle sprain will describe the sensation as a "popping" sound that occurs when they either land from a jump, or from stepping on another dancer's foot. Other not dance ability causes may be from losing your concentration (like I did), losing your balance (again, like I did), or being at the limit of your strength at that particular moment in time. I was in Nutcracker rehearsals three seasons ago and from the other room heard the "pop". A male dancer, attempting to jump side split style over someone's shoulder's had landed incorrectly and went down. Still gives me the willies thinking about it.

After the injury occurs, dancers will notice significant swelling in their ankle and bruising in the next few days. You should seek the medical advice of a podiatrist immediately, as they are the only physicians who are exclusively trained in foot and ankle injuries.

What a podiatrist will recommend is RICE and perhaps a strapping to keep the ankle stable as it heals. Remember RICE is:

Rest. Especially important for ballet dancers in season who want to get right back up and return to rehearsal. Don't even think about it!

Ice. Twenty minutes on, then twenty minutes off. This can be done periodically throughout the day.

Compression. Bandaging or strapping to keep the ankle steady.

Elevation. Resting the affected ankle above your heart so no blood will pool in that area.



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