Archive | Dance Health

Pointe Hurts…I Want to Quit!

Pointe Hurts…I Want to Quit!

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

Dance students new to pointe are always excited. They’ve been watching their favorite ballerinas since they were little, or they watched enviously in past years as their older peers got permission to get their pointe shoes. But now it’s their turn. They get fitted for their shoes, sew on their ribbons and elastics, maybe buy a special bag just for them, and then take the shiny satin shoes to class for the very first time.

And then…OUCH!

Maybe being en pointe doesn’t feel as dainty and pretty as one would have thought. Perhaps it feels, instead, uncomfortable. This sensation is common for dancers new to pointe, but it’s not something by which to get discouraged. Dancers don’t have to give up after one lesson, or even several. Dancers can get used to this new feeling of being on their toes, they can get stronger just by being up there, and they can learn some tips to make the transition easier and less painful.

Here, Dance Informa speaks with teachers from some of New York’s leading dance schools, as they offer advice and encouragement to those dancers feeling a bit weary of their new shoes.

Dancers are usually allowed to begin pointe between the ages of 10 and 12, although that depends entirely on individual assessment, regular attendance of ballet classes, technique and a teacher’s approval. It is recommended that each dancer be professionally fitted for their pointe shoes.

“Uncomfortable, unusual sensation and minor discomfort are all common,” says Jo Matos, director of the Children and Youth Ballet Programs at New York City’s Joffrey Ballet School. “Extreme pain is a good indicator that a shoe has not been properly recommended or fit for the student’s very individual needs, and if you aren’t taught proper techniques for manually breaking in your shoes.”

Kate Thomas, director of The School at Steps on Broadway, and also artistic director and choreographer of Ballet Neo, adds that a student’s ballet technique and alignment has a say in the success of her pointe work as well. “If the student is well-placed physically, there may be some discomfort involved in the initial work, but this should not be continual,” she says.

So, although some level of initial discomfort will exist, dancers should give their shoes a chance to break in.

“Discomfort, or what we call ‘good pain’, will pass with training,” Thomas adds. “If the shoe is fit properly and the student has trained properly, the transition to pointe work should be accomplished with little discomfort in a short time period.”

Other factors, such as a dancer’s bone growth and body development during adolescence, may affect a new dancer’s feeling of “pain” en pointe.

“This is a huge issue,” says Thomas. “Adolescent training is challenged by puberty and all the changes, both physical and emotional, that go along with the process. Growth plates behind the knee cause pain and weight gains before growth spurts cause problems, both emotionally and physically, that may affect dance and pointe training.”

Knowing that this is normal and occurs to everyone can be reassuring for dancers new to pointe and facing discomfort. Time will pass, the body will grow into its own, and any “growing pains” will soon cease.

There are also some things that dancers can do to make their time en pointe more comfortable and, in turn, more enjoyable.

Both Matos and Thomas stress the importance of strong abdominals for pointe work. It is a strong core, Matos says, that will help dancers lift their weight out of their shoes.

“Abdominal strength is crucial, as is proper body placement, while flexibility in the ankle and foot must be built before and during pointe training,” Thomas adds.

Matos advises dancers to learn to roll up onto pointe and down through the shoes to help strengthen the feet and ankles.

“This, coupled with strong core strength and clean technique, will aid in lessening the pain,” she says.

In addition, dancers must take good care of their feet. Matos recommends purchasing a good pair of Ouch Pouches for pointe shoes, and both she and Thomas encourage dancers to air out their pointe shoes between lessons. This will help prevent fungus and lessen bacteria, and will aid in decreasing unnecessary pain.

“Students should disinfect cuts or tears in the skin, and protect and deal with blisters,” Thomas adds. “All of this will aid in a pain-free dance experience.”

No dance teacher wants to see their students discouraged and in pain. Teachers like Matos and Thomas advise their students to approach a teacher or studio director if something feels wrong.

“Pain is not good,” Thomas says. “Pain means something is wrong – improperly fit shoes, weak placement or muscle strength – all should be discussed and addressed by the teacher and school administrators. Pressure on the toes should be minimal and not painful if all the other aspects of training and fit are addressed properly.”

“Work to strengthen your body, refine your technique, and the joy of floating across the stage with beauty, grace and ease will far outweigh the ‘pain’ of wearing pointe shoes,” Matos encourages. “Don’t give up!”

Photo (top): Students from The School at Steps on Broadway in New York City. Photo by Eduardo Patino.

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Getting the Right Start: Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas

Getting the Right Start: Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas

Jump start your metabolism with these quick and easy breakfast ideas.

By Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD in collaboration with Jessica Cloud MS, and Dannah Burch MPH.
www.dancernutrition.com.

Don’t let busy back to school mornings compromise the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast has been linked to improved academic performance, better mood, improved concentration and behavior1. Smart choices at breakfast, including the ones we suggest here, have been linked with stronger athletic performance and higher rates of body fat oxidation2. Fuel intake after a time of fasting, sends an important message to your body that you want a high metabolism, more energy, and strong muscles3,4. It’s challenging to get a nutritious breakfast when sleep is begging you to stay in bed. Take some time at the beginning of the week to plan ahead and give yourself that extra 5 minutes of sleep. You just might feel better, make better grades, dance better and have a better metabolism. Isn’t that worth getting up for?

Grabbing a low-sugar, pre-made bar or a banana while racing out the door is better than nothing, but you can’t beat good old oatmeal (porridge) with fruit and nuts or seeds, but here are some other quick ideas:

Overnight Oatmeal (porridge)
If you have some time before going to bed, this breakfast will be the perfect grab and go meal you need in the morning. It is filling and nutritious, but also tastes good! Here is what you will need: ¼ cup old fashioned uncooked oats, 1 cup of non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt (soy or coconut yogurt are good too), ½ cup of fresh blueberries. Mix ingredients in a jar and seal overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning your oatmeal will be ready to go! You could easily add flax seeds for brain boosting omega 3s.

Total Calories: 296.5 kcal, Total Fat: 1.75 g, Total Carbohydrates: 49 g, Total Protein: 23 g.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Smoothies are a quick and easy breakfast on the go and are endlessly adaptable. All you need is 1 cup of vanilla soy milk, 2 cups of sliced strawberries, 1 very ripe banana and 1 tbs chia seeds. Place ingredients in a blender and combine. Enjoy on the go!

Total Calories: 340 kcal, Total Fat: 5 g, Total Carbohydrates: 57 g, Total Protein: 9 g.

Apple Sandwiches
Spread your favorite nutbutter like peanut, almond or sunbutter over chunks of apple slices and sprinkle with ¼ cup low-fat granola.

Total Calories: 342, Total Fat: 13g, Total Fiber: 7 g, Total Protein: 12g

Trail Mix, homemade
½ cup (handful) mix of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried apricots, and puffed rice cereal.

Total Calories: 395, Total fat: 19g, Total Protein: 16g

Avocados on toast with ricotta (or goat cheese)
Good source of healthy fats and calcium for strong bones and muscle function.

1 slice of whole grain bread, 1 half small avocado, 2 tbs ricotta (skim).
Total Calories: 245, Total Fat: 12g, Total Protein 8g

Emily Harrison
Emily Cook Harrison MS, RD, LD
Emily is a registered dietitian and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutrition from Georgia State University. Her master’s thesis research was on elite level ballet dancers and nutrition and she has experience providing nutrition services for weight management, sports nutrition, disordered eating, disease prevention, and food allergies. Emily was a professional dancer for eleven years with the Atlanta Ballet and several other companies. She is a dance educator and the mother of two young children. She now runs the Centre for Dance Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles. She can be reached at emily@dancernutrition.com
www.dancernutrition.com


Sources:
1.
Adolphus K, Lawton CL, Dye L. The effects of breakfast on behavior and academic performance in children and adolescents. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Aug 8;7:425.
2.
Stevenson EJ, Astbury NM, Simpson EJ, Taylor MA, Macdonald IA. Fat oxidation during exercise and satiety during recovery are increased following a low-glycemic index breakfast in sedentary women.
3.
Coyle E. Fluid and fuel intake during exercise. Journal of Sports Sciences, 2004, 22:39-55.
4.
Benardot D. Timing of energy and fluid intake: New concepts for weight control and hydration. American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal vol 11 no 4.
5.
USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/

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It’s Back to School! Are you ready?

It’s Back to School! Are you ready?

How to start the new season looking and feeling your very best.

By Christine Dion of Mode Dion.

Back to school means more demands on your time. Planning a busy schedule and finding time to keep your looks up can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the busy season ahead.

Get organized: As seasons change so do your clothing choices. Put away clothes you’re not planning to wear for the next few months. Have front and center clothing combinations so it’s easy to look your best. Now is the time to mend, wash and repair clothing and shoes so they are ready to go!

Mode DionTime to toss: Go through your makeup and throw out anything that doesn’t look good on you. Why hold onto colors that don’t help you look your best and that you risk applying when in a hurry?  Throw out old products that are starting to get old, smell funny or separate.  It’s not always easy to know when the time has come, so here is a time line of expiration dates on your favorite basic cosmetic must haves:

Foundation and Moisturizers:  Up to 2 years, but most last only about a year. Increase the last by dipping a Q-tip into the bottle instead of fingers that can easily introduce bacteria and cause spoiling. When products start to separate, change consistency or smell funny, then it’s time to toss them.

Concealer/Cover up:  Up to 2-5 years, until product smells or separates.

Face Powder:  Loose powder can last up to 3 years or more if it doesn’t begin to smell bad.  Compact powder can harden and change color from your skin oils getting onto the surface.  Bacteria can build up easily on these as well.  Refresh compact powder, reduce bacteria and increase the last, by scratching off the surface layer with a clean toothbrush. Replace compact puff regularly and wash compact sponges weekly to increase last.

Cheek Color: Like a compact powder, bacteria can build up and powder can harden.  Treat with the toothbrush technique and keep for 2-3 years.

Eye Shadows: Keep top layer clean and these should last up to 3-4 years.  Look for color changes, bad smells, and itchy eyes to point the way to the trash.

Eye liners and Lip liners:  These can last a long time if you keep them well sharpened.  For lip and eye pencils, look for moldy build up and a change in texture as a signal they’ve gone bad.  Liquid liners last about 1 year because of a higher risk of bacteria build up.  To keep fresh longer, use a separate clean brush to apply instead of the one that goes back into the container.

Mascara: 4 months after it has been opened, mascara begins to harbor bacteria build up that can cause infection and eye irritation.  Pumping mascara will push air into the chamber causing a faster dry out time.  Instead, stir the wand in the chamber before applying.

Lipstick: After 2-3 years, color and texture change and bacteria starts to build up. Wipe lipsticks clean regularly to keep fresh.

Face Masks (creamy): 6 months to 1 year.

Nail Polish:  2 years, give or take.

Fragrance: Keep your fragrance out of sunlight in a dry cool place.  Most people keep their fragrance in the bathroom, which is the worst place of all. Fragrance should last from 3-6 years if cared for correctly.

How to care for your products, keep them fresh and help them last.

  • Store products in a cool dark place like the fridge (cold is a bacteria inhibitor) or a box.  Keep out of sunlight and warm humid places such as the bathroom.
  • Shake up liquids every once in a while.  If pigments separate and don’t shake back together, toss the product.
  • Avoid touching products with your fingers (bacteria).  Use sponges, brushes and Q-tips whenever you can.
  • Keep lids closed tightly.
  • Never share products.

Keep makeup brushes clean! These tools not only need to be washed once a week to  control bacteria and prevent breakouts but also to keep the makeup products you use them on clean for a longer last.  Here’s the best way to wash your make-up brushes:

1. Fill bowl with warm water.

2. Add one squirt of dish washing liquid or baby shampoo.

3. Swish brushes into water and gently work soap through hairs.

4. Empty water and fill bowl again with fresh warm water.

5. Repeat until water is clear and brushes have no trace of soap.

6. Pat on to dry towel and lay flat on dry towel until dry.

Tip: Never soak brushes, as the wood will expand and the hairs will fall out. Never dry brushes standing up as moisture can pool at the base where the hairs are glued, start to cause rotting and the hairs will fall out.  Good makeup brushes can bring you many years of wonderful use with proper care.

Be prepared: Pack a tote bag with extra’s you might need through your busy day. Be sure to have healthy snacks like raw nuts or seeds for protein and energy, quality meal replacement bars so you can avoid junk food temptations, fruits and other healthy choices to keep you on track. Have water always available to remind you to drink fluids. Include band-aids, safety pins, feminine products, aspirin, Tums, breath mints, deodorant, extra pair of tights, paper and pen, scotch tape, socks, nail clipper/file, little scissors and tweezers. Round up your small travel bottles, clean them out and create a skin care set (wash, toner, moisturizer, body lotion) for on the go.  Always rehearse in clean skin. Be sure to have a plastic sandwich bag filled with cotton squares and Q-tips for quick clean up from school to the studio. A hair brush, hair spray, hair tie/band/clips are a must to keep your hair away from facial skin to prevent forehead and back breakouts.

Be rested: Make sure to sleep in a cool room, on clean linens and with a good pillow. It can help to bathe at night before bed as the cooling down affect on your body can increase relaxation. Try to get 8-9 hours of sleep a night so you can better handle stress and fatigue. Eating a banana before bed can help you sleep, Melatonin in a dropper is helpful with mint tea as well as sniffing the scent of Lavender.  Make sleep a priority as this is a valuable time for your body to repair and restore for the next day.  Tip: If you have long hair be sure to sleep with your hair up in a soft cotton tie to avoid back and shoulder acne. Hair oils cause break outs and irritation on these two acne prone places while you sleep. Not rinsing hair conditioner off completely from your back can be a culprit too.

Face the day: Put your best face forward every day. Just because you only have a few minutes to look your best doesn’t mean you throw out your beauty regime. Properly cleanse and moisturize so your skin is protected and can stay healthy. A little foundation to even out skin tone in problem areas, concealer under the eyes, light powder to set (and add color), mascara to enhance lashes, a little cheek color and lip gloss can go a long way to look polished and fresh. Be sure to define eye brows if needed too.

Here are a few ideas to help you achieve a natural fresh look for your day:

Back to school is a time of year filled with exciting new opportunities and experiences. Embrace it looking and feeling your very best!

Christine Dion is an international Makeup Artist,  Speaker, Columnist and Author well known in the dance industry. Her cosmetics collection, Mode Dion Cosmetics, have been custom designed for the special needs of performers both on stage and on camera.  Her products are featured on all of her models/starlets in her publications, workshops, monthly newsletter, youtube channel, in her book “High Performance Beauty and her numerous beauty columns.

Check out modedion.com to see all of the professional product collection, training videos, articles, how to tips and more. Mention Dance Informa at checkout when shopping and get 20% off your next Mode Dion Cosmetics order! (retail products only)  Be sure to LIKE Mode Dion Cosmetics & Training on Facebook for more helpful tips and specials. *Offer expired Nov 30 2014.

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Tackling Common Dancer Questions and Myths

Tackling Common Dancer Questions and Myths

By Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD
of The Centre for Dance Nutrition.
www.dancernutrition.com

As a dietitian for dancers and a former professional dancer myself, I get lots of emails. Many of these questions are about some common dancer myths that I remember from when I was in the school and the company. Here we take a deeper look at some of these and try to separate fact from fiction.    

Dear Dietitian: “I am a 17-year-old female ballet dancer (5’4″) and I have struggled within the last year in knowing what a healthy weight is for my body. I read online that ballet dancers should be 10 lbs. lighter than a healthy BMI for normal people, despite the fact that their muscle weighs more than fat. Is a BMI of 20.4 (over 120 lbs.) overweight if I wanted to get into a company?”

The term “BMI” refers to a calculation of someone’s height to their weight. I haven’t heard that ballet dancers have to be 10 lbs. lighter than a healthy BMI. This is one of those dancer myths. Healthy BMI is a big range and beautiful, successful, professional dancers come in all shapes and sizes. There is not a correct weight or BMI that dancers have to fit, and BMI doesn’t take into account muscle mass.

Successful ballet dancers are lean and muscular because they regularly make smart, healthy choices, not because they starve themselves to fit some arbitrary calculation or number on a scale. They know that they can’t eat junk, fast food or drink soda. Real professional dancers know that if they want to look good in tights, they have to fuel the body well with healthy food. It’s possible to eat well and still have a great career. Dancers shouldn’t define their potential for success by a number on a scale, but instead focus on hard work in the studio and smart food and beverage choices outside the studio.

Dear Dietitian: “I am 23 years old and I just got a company contract, but this past season my energy levels have been terrible and I am having trouble feeling strong at the end of class. I have tried eating more protein and less carbs, but it’s not working. Should I increase my protein before class?”

Energy levels depend on many factors. First, don’t go for more than three hours without eating. Never dance on an empty stomach. Second and most important, carbohydrate or “carbs” are the preferred source of energy for any athletic activity. The body likes to save protein for rebuilding muscle after exercise, maintaining fluid balance and many other biological processes. Eating protein and no carbs before dance is a great way to feel exhausted. Eat complex carbs like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Try a bowl of oatmeal/porridge before class.

Energy levels can also be affected by hydration. Are you getting approximately 2800 ml (10-12 cups) of water per day? If not, make sure your water bottle goes everywhere with you and refill often.

Nutrition status can affect energy levels. Are you getting enough vitamins and minerals? B-vitamins and Iron are just two examples of nutrients that contribute to energy levels. If low energy persists, let your doctor know so he/she can rule out anything medical or food allergy related. Now get some good sleep and keep dancing. 

Dear Dietitian: “I am 15 years old and am in school during the day and dance in the evenings for 3-6 hours each day. It’s late by the time I finally get home after dance and I have lots of homework so I don’t eat much. I heard other dancers say that you shouldn’t eat after 8 p.m. anyway. Is that true?”

It is a myth that you shouldn’t eat past a certain time at night. Those calories don’t “turn into fat” just because you are going to bed soon. This is a critical time for muscle building, so eat something even if it’s small and quick. The body doesn’t shut down at night. You need nutrients even when sleeping. You have been dancing hard in class and rehearsal so you need to provide the building blocks for repair and strengthening if you want to improve.

An example post-dance meal might be some bean and veggie soup and a whole grain roll or quinoa. Rice, veggies and soy are easy, or you could have a sandwich and/or a salad with garbanzo beans with a glass of soy, flax or almond milk. Avoid the temptation to stop by fast food on the way home and get a calorie bomb meal. Instead make smart choices. You will gain strength faster if you provide nutrients post-exercise. 

For more letters to the dietitian related to these topics, see www.dancernutrition.com/ask-the-dietitian.html and feel free to send your own questions to the dietitian.

Emily Harrison
Dance nutritionistEmily Cook Harrison MS, RD, LD
Emily is a registered dietitian and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutrition from Georgia State University. Her master’s thesis research was on elite level ballet dancers and nutrition and she has experience providing nutrition services for weight management, sports nutrition, disordered eating, disease prevention, and food allergies. Emily was a professional dancer for eleven years with the Atlanta Ballet and several other companies. She is a dance educator and the mother of two young children. She now runs the Centre for Dance Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles. She can be reached at emily@dancernutrition.com www.dancernutrition.com

Photo (top): © Photographerlondon | Dreamstime.com

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Dance Injury Prevention 101: Your Friendly Neighborhood Athletic Trainer

Dance Injury Prevention 101: Your Friendly Neighborhood Athletic Trainer

By Leigh Schanfein of Dance Informa.

Who is an athletic trainer?

The National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA) defines Athletic Trainers (AT) as “health care professionals who collaborate with physicians to provide preventative services, emergency care, clinical diagnosis, therapeutic intervention and rehabilitation of injuries and medical conditions.” They specialize in educating and treating patients in order to prevent injury and re-injury. As the name suggests, they primarily work with athletic populations but they may work with other patient groups under the umbrella of physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Considering all they do, I’m surprised I didn’t find out about Athletic Trainers until I was in college, which is when I discovered them through the assets of the university sports teams. Fortunately, I was able to access care because of my proximity to some massive sports funding, though I was left wishing I’d known about what ATs could do for dancers earlier in my training. A lot of dancers don’t realize they have access to the great expertise of ATs, particularly those at university.

The dancers at SUNY Purchase, however, know all about the amazing care dancers can get from a Certified Athletic Trainer (ATC). They have regular access to Lauren Kreha, ATC, Clinical Specialist at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, NYU Langone Medical Center in New York. Lauren provides clinical care as well as a great deal of preventative care for dancers in companies like Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Ballet Hispanico, as well as at Purchase. She wants dancers to see her before they are injured so that they can avoid dance injuries.

Harkness Center for Dance Injuries

Lauren Kreha working with a dancer at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Photo courtesy of Lauren Kreha.

“You don’t need to be hurt to see me. A lot of the time, dancers in my athletic training room just come for nutrition advice, to vent, or work on getting stronger. Athletic trainers have the opportunity to build rapport with dancers before they’re hurt, which makes it easier to comfort and treat them in those moments of crisis.” ATs like Lauren put in the extra work to make sure dancers like you don’t get injured, get well as quickly as possible, and return stronger so they don’t get injured again.

Can I trust them with my dance injuries?

Just as you would trust a doctor, physical therapist, masseuse or acupuncturist, an AT is a licensed health care provider, and whether or not you should trust them with your injury depends on what kind of experience they have with dancers and our somewhat unique needs. Fortunately, ATs are used to working with athletes who have extremely similar demands to those of dancers. Just as they know an athlete needs to get back onto the field or court, they will understand your need to get back into the studio or on stage as quickly and painlessly as possible. 

As Lauren points out, an AT’s training makes him or her ideal for working with dancers. “We understand the need for a dancer to return to peak physical condition as quickly as possible, and are highly skilled in finding ways to make that happen,” she said.

Also critical for dancers is getting help right away so an injury doesn’t get worse because care wasn’t available or the dancer was afraid to go to someone about his or her injury. Sometimes, this means getting help immediately in the wake of a serious injury that can threaten the overall health, livelihood, and even the life of the dancer. “Athletic trainers are also prepared to evaluate injuries right after they happen and make quick decisions about returning to activity or referral. One of the things that makes me most proud to be an athletic trainer is that you can not only trust me with dance injuries (e.g. ankle sprain) but also life-threatening injuries. I am ready to respond if your heart stops beating, and can save your life.”

Harkness Center for Dance Injuries

Lauren Kreha stretching a dancer at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Photo courtesy of Lauren Kreha.

How does an athletic trainer differ from a physical therapist or a personal trainer?

Though they have a similar name, ATs and personal trainers have very different roles. ATs go to school for a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree in athletic training, and 46 states also require them to become certified (that’s the “C” in ATC). They work under the direction of a physician to prevent, diagnose and intervene in emergency, acute and chronic medical conditions. They are healthcare professionals. A personal trainer develops and implements exercise programs according to fitness goals and is not qualified to provide medical care.

Physical therapists and ATs have more in common when it comes to schooling, level of expertise, and what exactly they are permitted and expected to do with a patient.

After beginning an education that started out with a combined Athletic Training/Physical Therapy track, and learning the skills that both professions attain, Lauren realized she wanted specifically to pursue the AT because of the critical care component. “Athletic trainers (in the traditional sense) are there when an injury occurs. There’s a lot of excitement in immediate care and acute assessment that you don’t get in the clinic.”

How do I find a trustworthy ATC in my town?

Because ATs must practice under the direction of a physician, they will be associated with medical teams at clinics, hospitals, high school and university settings, and other medical organizations. Lauren makes a particularly important point about getting in to see an expert at your school or medical center: “If you don’t currently have access to their care, change that! One of my interns last summer was a dancer at my athletic training alma mater. We talked about getting the dancers access to the athletic trainers on campus, and then [she] went back to GVSU and made it happen!”

SUNY Purchase dance students

ATC Lauren Kreha working with a group of her SUNY Purchase students in a “Running for Dancers” workshop. Photo courtesy of Lauren Kreha.

Sometimes it’s not obvious how to find an AT, but if there are athletics in your town, there is probably at least one AT associated with that team, and you can seek them out or inquire if there is a branch of their services that non-team athletes can access. Never be afraid to ask, you might just find your new best friend in injury prevention and rehabilitation! 

Lauren Kreha, ATC, is a Clinical Specialist at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone Medical Center. She provides backstage coverage for Broadway shows and dance companies in New York City as well as injury prevention assessments and educational lectures to the dance community

Photo (top): ATC Lauren Kreha working with a dancer at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. Photo courtesy of  Lauren Kreha.

Posted in Dance Health, Teacher Tips & Resources, Tips & Advice1 Comment

How to Take Care of Your Body and Mind During Summer Dance Intensives

How to Take Care of Your Body and Mind During Summer Dance Intensives

By Katherine Moore of Dance Informa.

To many young people, summer means endless days of freedom, ice cream and time to relax. For dancers, however, summer can mean long days, weeks or even months of classes and intensives. Dance companies and schools around the world offer unique summer training programs designed to push young students further in their technique and performance skills. These programs can be both exhilarating and exhausting. So here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your summer program.  

1. Warm up properly.

With the higher temperatures of summer, the temptation to skip a thorough warm-up is strong. You feel warm, so your muscles and joints must be ready to go, right? Wrong. Simply feeling hot from the 90-degree weather in 100-percent humidity does not equal giving your body the preparation it needs to dance. Your joints need a thorough warm-up to start releasing the synovial fluid that protects the joint itself during movement. While your muscles may feel more flexible and open than usual, warming up gets your central nervous system in gear and ready to protect yourself from injury.

2. Drink enough water.

It might go without saying, but staying hydrated is one of the most important parts of taking care of yourself during long days of dance. You need to drink plenty of water before, during and especially after a day of rehearsal and class. When in doubt, drink more.

3. Eat well-balanced meals.

Some programs could have you dancing for 8-10 hours a day, maybe more. Depending on your typical training regimen, this may be more hours of exercise per day than you’re used to. Consequently, you’ll need a bit more fuel than usual to get you through the day.

During hot summer days, many people feel that they have less of an appetite, especially in the evening, so make sure you eat a full, balanced breakfast to get you off on the right foot and ready for a day of dancing.

Focus on whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats throughout the day, and keep snacks around like nuts and fruit to eat in between class and rehearsal. At lunch and dinner, be sure to stock up on veggies to replace the nutrients and minerals you’ve been using, and don’t forget to get some healthy carbohydrates in there for extra energy. Trust me, you’ll need it. Remember, you can also rehydrate by eating foods with high water content, such as fruit and leafy greens. 

4. Know your limits.

It’s important to know when you need to rest. Most summer programs have fairly strict rules about attendance, but if you have completely exhausted yourself, you won’t be getting as much out of your summer dancing as you should. If you get an option for an afternoon off, take it if you need it. Make sure to establish a good relationship with your teachers and directors so that you can both determine if you need a break. 

Injuries are common during summer programs, often because you are dancing more than your body is used to. Pay attention and listen to what your body is telling you. Take time at the end of the day to cool down, stretch and elevate your feet. This can be a great way to check in with how you actually are.

Remember, especially for the hypermobile dancers out there, overstretching can do as much damage as not stretching at all. Particularly if you are really warm and tired, the likelihood of pulling a muscle with vigorous stretching at the end of day increases. Try passive, gentle stretching to decrease soreness and prepare yourself for the next day of dancing. 

5. Have fun!

While summer dance intensives and programs are designed to put you in the professional dancer’s mindset, remember that summer (and dancing) is supposed to be fun! Work hard, but also keep in mind the real reasons why you dance.

Make friends with the other students in your program, enjoy the opportunity to learn and take advantage of opportunities to try new things and learn from new teachers! If your summer is full of workshops and intensives, be sure to schedule in some down time with friends and family.

Especially if you’re attending a program in a city far from home, take the chance to explore and get out of the dance studio when you can. You’ll be surprised at how much having a little fun will improve your dancing and summer experience. 

Photo (top): © Photographerlondon | Dreamstime.com

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Michael Spencer Phillips: A Story of Injury, Recovery and Inspiration

Michael Spencer Phillips: A Story of Injury, Recovery and Inspiration

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

Michael Spencer Phillips embodies inspiration. As a dancer, he is disciplined, strong at heart and in the body, and passionate. As a dancer who suffered a massive injury that led doctors to believe he would never walk normally again, but who, 11 months later, returned to the stage, Phillips seems almost otherworldly. The RIOULT Dance NY member is now gearing up for the company’s 20th anniversary season at the Joyce Theater, and he says he is dancing better than ever.

During his time of recovery, Phillips pushed himself – mentally and physically – but he did it in a way that, for his nature, seemed necessary. Not once during his journey did Phillips doubt he would perform again. He accepted his situation, committed himself to full recovery and now shares his incredible story that will surely inspire all.

In October of 2012, RIOULT Dance NY was in Florida performing at the University of Florida’s Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Phillips, who has been with the company for 12 years, was dancing in On Distant Shores, a layered and physically demanding piece for four men and one woman. During one section, Phillips took off for a jump, when he suddenly heard and felt what he says was the worst pain of his life. In that flash of a moment, several thoughts raced through his mind: “Is this the end of my career?” “How do I get off stage?” “I’m not going to be able to go on our upcoming tour to Germany.” “What is going to happen to the remainder of this piece? The rest of the program?” “Can I move?”

With movement fitting with the piece, Phillips lunged and shifted himself off stage. Another dancer threw on the costume to finish Phillips’ role, and for the company’s last work on the program, Bolero, they performed it with seven dancers instead of eight. Phillips remained on the sidelines, with a good friend and fellow company member, Marianna Tsartolia, who rubbed Phillips’ face and told him it would be okay.

Michael Spencer Phillips

Michael Spencer Phillips. Photo by Rachel Neville.

The following morning, Phillips saw an orthopedist at the University of Florida, but since he wouldn’t be Phillips’ long-term doctor, he couldn’t prescribe anything for the pain. The company flew back to NYC that day, October 26, 2012. Phillips was in a wheelchair. Friends carried him up five flights of stairs to his apartment, and he made an appointment to see Dr. David Weiss first thing after the weekend.

But then Hurricane Sandy struck. Subways were not running, people were stranded at home, and the New York University Hospital was flooded. Phillips would be unable to see his doctor or get a diagnosis for 10 days, and during this time he had to live with the immense pain.

Meanwhile, RIOULT had to prepare for the company’s German tour in two weeks. An apprentice had to go into Phillips’ parts, other dancers had to fill in any gaps, and Phillips felt terrible for the burden he felt he had left on the company.

“All you can think of is how it is affecting everyone else, wishing they weren’t having to rehearse so hard before a tour,” he says. “Touring is hard enough without having to dance new parts and partner with new partners.”

The physical pain, too, was wearing on Phillips. “I really could not move the leg or weight bear much,” he recalls. “I didn’t have much stability or strength with that leg. It was like it wasn’t mine. I couldn’t really control it, and it was so painful to stand, sit, you name it. It hurt.”

Finally, he was able to see Dr. Weiss, who saw the immense bruising to the leg, hip and abdomen and said it was unlike anything he had seen before. After x-rays and an MRI, the injury was diagnosed: Phillips had torn the adductor from his pelvic bone. The adductor was intact, but with it came some of the bone, and together they retracted down the inside of his leg and left a hole in his pelvic bone. Phillips had also torn the labrum and had micro-tears and strains to the abdominus rectus and the fascial tissue of the abdominals.

Weiss consulted with other doctors, but none had seen another dancer who had suffered that severe of a hip injury. Due to the amount of time that had lapsed since the injury, Phillips had to face the possibility that surgeons would not be able to get to the adductor and the chance he may never be able to walk normally again.

“It scared the heck out of me,” Phillips admits. “I know that with any surgery there are risks. As a dancer, these seemed like big ones, though. I had so many things that went wrong at the same time that we had no idea if surgery was going to be successful.”

Michael Spencer Phillips

Michael Spencer Phillips. Photo by Rachel Neville.

Weiss recommended Phillips go see Dr. Srino Bharam, a hip specialist who trained under one of the best hip doctors in the country. Dr. Bharam suggested surgery as soon as possible. He would repair the labral tear, remove the scar tissue from around the adductor, and pull and reattach the adductor with screws and a small plate to the broken pelvic bone. Dr. Bharam would also execute bone resurfacing, a slightly controversial technique that would essentially reshape the head of the femur and the socket of the pelvis where it sits. With the shapes of his bones slightly changed, Phillips would have to re-teach his body how those bones moved in the most efficient way. But for Phillips, the advantages of movement potential outweighed what would be a taxing recovery period.

Phillips went in for surgery on December 5, 2012. What was supposed to be a two-hour procedure took seven hours. But it was successful.

Only 12 hours later, Phillips began the recovery process. He started movement therapy with a controlled passive movement machine, a large contraption that held and helped bend and straighten his leg. He also iced for an hour every other hour for the first five days, after which he began post-surgery physical therapy (PT) with Rocky Bornstein at Westside Dance Physical Therapy.

On that first day of PT, just days after Phillips’ leg was essentially opened up and reattached, he was on a stationary bike.

“I kind of rode the bike with a rhythm of a limp at first,” Phillips says. “I only lasted about four minutes on it, but then I realized that it was all going to work out. I would be back and stronger than ever. It would be painful, it would be challenging, but it would be the most dramatic, life-changing and character-building experience of my entire life.”

For four months, Phillips’ PT routine was about six to eight hours a day. During the first eight weeks, he used crutches to get to and from PT and the gym, where he biked, swam (upper body only), walked, used the treadmill, did Pilates, used weights, TheraBands, silks, balance boards, and did hundreds of exercises for every part of the leg and core.

Soon, he started doing ballet barre in the pool, then he did barre outside the pool, and soon enough, in April of 2013, Phillips went back to ballet class with his teacher, Christine Wright.

“I would do a little more each day,” he says. “If there were exercises I couldn’t do yet, I would learn the exercise and do just the port de bras and visualize myself doing it. Once I could move more, but still not jump or shift weight well, I would try and do the combinations small in the back.”

By summer, Phillips was dancing more and more. On September 16, 2013, he returned to rehearsal. By the middle of October, he performed again for the first time! He started with only one piece and added on more repertory slowly. And now, Phillips is back dancing in almost everything he was before!

Now, Phillips will join RIOULT in the company’s 20th anniversary season at the Joyce from June 17-22. “I am featured in some of the work this season,” he says. “It is a huge honor. I’m just so grateful to be a part of it and to be back home on stage with my dance family.”

Perhaps the key to Phillips’ incredibly quick return to the stage was his attitude. Never once did he ask, “Why me?” Instead, he accepted his fate and reacted with resilience and determination.

“I spoke to a panel of doctors at the University of Michigan in April of 2013,” he recalls. “They told me about athletes who were still rehashing what had happened six and eight months after an injury. They were still doing their PT but weren’t recovering quickly, and these athletes were more than 15 years younger than me. I never did the asking of the questions after that first week. It didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was getting back in the studio and back on stage. That’s where I feel I belong.”

“Six months after my surgery, I was already dancing in class,” Phillips continues. “Eight months after surgery, I was teaching and choreographing. Those athletes were still asking, ‘Why?’ Ten months, back to work full-time and putting in six-hour days of dancing. Eleven months, back to performing. Now, back to back. Dancing more efficiently and smarter and cleaner and with more passion and love for it than ever before. It is fleeting. We cannot be performers forever, but we are dancers. If anyone is going to push it to the limits, it will be us. No one has the discipline of dancers. No one. I believe that.”

For information about RIOULT Dance NY’s Joyce Theater season visit www.rioult.org.

Posted in Dance Health, Interviews2 Comments

High Energy Snacks for Your Young Dancer

High Energy Snacks for Your Young Dancer

By Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD
of The Centre for Dance Nutrition.
www.dancernutrition.com

As a mom and a nutritionist I am all too aware of studies showing snacks contribute to better concentration, better memory recall, and help kids stay on task1,2.  Students who have regularly scheduled snacks and who don’t go for more than 3 hours without eating, even something small, have decreased anxiety and were reported to be more happy and alert1,2.  I see it in my own kids, but it really hits home to me as a ballet teacher when I have a group of kids late in the afternoon and some of them are clearly fatigued or out of sorts.  An informal poll of my young ballet students showed me that several of them don’t eat anything at all between lunch time and ballet class which can start as late as 5:45pm.  Their concentration, attitude, and motivation are clearly impacted. Take the time to work with your kids to plan and shop for healthy snacks so that they are quick and available at home to grab and go or throw in a dance bag the night before.  Let your kids pick out fruits and veggies at the store and engage them in washing and food prep.  A little planning can make a big difference in your child’s dance class experience.

Another concern is added ingredients. Certain ingredients in foods such as dyes, artificial flavors, additives, and preservatives like sodium benzoate have been shown to affect hyperactivity, concentration and mood3.   With these and renewed concerns over genetically modified foods affecting developing children, it’s not just sugar that is the villain anymore.  As a busy parent myself, I understand all too well how challenging healthy snacks can be so here are some ideas and my dancers’ favorite recipe:

Choose complex carbohydrates with low to moderate protein/ fat for a pre-dance snack. Expect a small snack to last 2-3 hours of dancing. If your dancer is going to be at the studio longer than that, pack two snacks or a small meal.

  1. 1 banana with 1-2 tbsp peanut butter
  2. 1 cup sweet red pepper slices or carrots with 3 tbsp hummus and some pumpkin seeds
  3. Sunbutter or almond butter and honey sandwich on organic spelt bread
  4. 14 almonds and 1 large apple or 1 cup of grapes
  5. ½  cup granola and non-GMO soy yogurt
  6. Shelled edamame or tofu cubes with rice, veggies and soy sauce (make ahead of time and serve cold)
  7. Hardboiled egg or string cheese with 5-10 whole grain or rice crackers
  8. 6oz low fat yogurt (can substitute for soy or coconut yogurt)
  9. Homemade almond milk smoothie with frozen berries, peaches, and flax seeds. (Make a large batch ahead of time and freeze in small grab and go containers)
  10. Pre-made bar or oatrolls (see below) with fruit, dates, nuts and/or whole grains. (Make a large batch and freeze, then put frozen oatrolls in his/her dance bag in the morning so by the afternoon they are thawed and yummy.)

Many children these days have an intolerance or allergy to dairy and gluten. Registered dietitian Colleen McCarthy RD with On Pointe Nutrition knows firsthand how hard it can be to dance “in a fog of gluten intolerance”.  Here are our recommendations for gluten free/dairy free kids:

  1. Apple salad: apples, walnuts, pecans, raisins
  2. Hummus with brown rice crackers or raw carrots/squash/zucchini/sweet peppers.
  3. Soy/coconut yogurt with flaxseed or chia seeds, fresh blueberries or strawberries and 1tbsp of almond butter- mix it up.
  4. Nut/seed mix: almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins, pecan, brazil nuts, dried pineapple
  5. Banana with almond, cashew, or sunbutter
  6. Coconut water, dark chocolate almond milk or coconut milk
  7. Rice cakes with nut butter and a piece of fruit
  8. Oatmeal with flax seeds or a homemade oatrolls (see recipe)
  9. Popcorn, pumpkin seeds, GF pretzels, and dried fruit trail mix

Easy Almond Oat Energy Rolls
(makes approximately 20 rolls)

  • 2 1/2 cups rolled oats (regular)
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 Tbs. raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbs. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Grind 1/2 cup oats and 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds in food processor until powdery. Transfer to medium bowl; set aside.

Combine remaining 2 cups oats, remaining 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raisins, sunflower seeds and cinnamon in large bowl. Stir in almond butter, honey, and vanilla until soft dough forms.

Moisten hands, and roll dough into 1-inch balls. Coat balls in oat-pumpkin seed powder.

Emily Harrison
Dance nutritionistEmily Cook Harrison MS, RD, LD
Emily is a registered dietitian and holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nutrition from Georgia State University. Her master’s thesis research was on elite level ballet dancers and nutrition and she has experience providing nutrition services for weight management, sports nutrition, disordered eating, disease prevention, and food allergies. Emily was a professional dancer for eleven years with the Atlanta Ballet and several other companies. She is a dance educator and the mother of two young children. She now runs the Centre for Dance Nutrition and Healthy Lifestyles. She can be reached at emily@dancernutrition.com www.dancernutrition.com

Sources:
1. Physiology & Behavior Volume 90, Issues 2-3, 28 February 2007, Pages 382-385
2. A mid-morning snack improves memory but not attention or psychomotor speed in school-age children in India Appetite. Volume 47, Issue 2, September 2006, Page 262
3. www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(07)61306-3/fulltext

Photo (top): © Guille Faingold | Dreamstime.com

Posted in Dance Health1 Comment

I’m Sore! Now What?

I’m Sore! Now What?

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

As a dancer, you are constantly using your body in new ways. Perhaps you were challenged in a really hard class. Or maybe your company started rehearsing a new piece of repertory. Maybe you took a modern class that incorporated a ton of deep pliés. It’s no wonder, then, that there are some days when you wake up, take your first step out of bed and think, “I am so sore!”

So what does it mean to be “sore”? And what should you do about it? Here, Dance Informa speaks with Marissa Joseph, CSCS, founder of Working Lines Training.

WHAT IS “SORENESS”?

Joseph says that scientists have differing opinions on what is going on in your body when you feel sore. Some believe that soreness might come from minute tears in the muscle fiber’s contractile units. Others believe that feeling sore may actually be psychological.

“Whichever the case,” Joseph says, “feeling ‘sore’ usually constitutes a feeling of stiffness and ache in the muscle belly due to overuse. Soreness usually comes on the morning after a tough rehearsal or workout or anywhere between 24 and 48 hours post.”

Working Lines Training Founder Marissa Joseph

Joseph leads workshops on the importance of strength training for dancers. Photo courtesy of Marissa Joseph.

TO STRETCH OR NOT TO STRETCH?

It may be tempting as a dancer to stretch it out when you feel sore. It may feel “good”, or maybe stretching has just become part of your warm-up routine. Stretching, however, may not be the best way to remedy soreness, although it does depend on your degree of soreness.

“If it is correct that soreness is actually caused by micro-tears in the muscle, static stretching, like sitting in your splits, will likely cause more damage to this tissue,” Joseph points out.

Instead, Joseph recommends taking the time to do some gentle dynamic stretches: sun salutations, pliés à la seconde, pliés in sixth position while in a cambré forward, lunges à la seconde.

“This will begin to warm up the body while working through a stretch and bring blood flow to the area,” she adds. “Blood carries nutrients that will help repair tissues.”

If you are very sore, to the point where your movement is counteracted, then Joseph advises staying away from stretching entirely.

LEVELS OF SORENESS

Depending on the level of your soreness, your mode of treatment may differ. If your soreness is very light, Joseph says it’s safe to proceed into your dance day as normal but with a longer warm-up. If your soreness is moderate, she recommends giving yourself ample time to dynamically stretch and do a few exercises. At this level, Joseph also suggests avoiding extreme movements. If your soreness is at an uncomfortable level and causes discomfort when you move, she advises icing the muscle and taking the day off, without even stretching or foam rolling.

A day off may seem almost sacrilegious to dancers, but it could be the best cure for severe soreness. “Once a dancer starts changing his or her movement to work around a sore muscle, they are at a higher risk of injuring themselves,” Joseph adds. “I know it’s tempting to work through your pain, but be sure to give your body a rest when it asks for it! When your muscle stops being sore, you are generally okay to start your normal routine again.”

Stretching for muscle soreness

Working Lines Training Founder Marissa Joseph says stretching may not always be the best remedy for sore muscles. Photo courtesy of Marissa Joseph.

PREVENTING SORENESS?

As a dancer, who is constantly exploring movement or practicing one set of steps repeatedly, you are bound to get sore. It’s part of the game. This unavoidable soreness, however, can be a good thing!

“You will notice that with new stimulus or different stress, your body will generally react by being sore,” Joseph says. “When your muscles adapt to a new regimen or routine, however, you’ve become stronger and should no longer feel achy. I think it is good to be sore sometimes. It usually means that you are challenging your body. The more we physically challenge our bodies, the stronger they will become!”

SORE DANGER

Make sure you continuously check in with your body, and pay attention to the degree of your soreness.

“If your soreness persists much longer than 48 hours, a dancer should start to be concerned,” Joseph says. “It could be the case that he or she has actually injured the muscle. Also, if the dancer starts to experience any sharp pains, they should seek the help of a health professional.” 

Photo (top): © Softdreams | Dreamstime.com

Posted in Dance Health, Tips & Advice1 Comment

Injury Prevention 101: Tiny Terrors

Injury Prevention 101: Tiny Terrors

By Leigh Schanfein of Dance Informa.

As devastating as a major injury can be, sometimes it’s the little things that get us down. When you’re always covered in bruises but have to keep doing that floor work, or you’ve ripped the same hole in your foot twice a day for the past month, you start to get desperate for a cure.

So, what are some things we can do about these nasty little injuries? A bevy of dancers shared their thoughts, and expert clinician Alan Kroll, MS, ATC, athletic trainer for many of Broadway’s major shows including Crazy for You, Steel Pier, The Color Purple, La Cage aux Folles, Follies and Jesus Christ Superstar, weighs in with his own special recommendations.

Cuts and split skin

To prevent: A lot of dancers like to use a fat-based balm to keep their skin softer so it’s less likely to split in the first place. This might be coconut oil, Bag Balm or a neutral lip balm. If your calluses start to get craggy, use a pumice stone to reduce thickness or nail clippers to trim tough edges so they don’t get caught and pull the wound open. Some dancers also develop elaborate taping methods, using flexible tape like Elastoplast to weave between the toes for strategic prevention.

To heal: Glue it shut! Almost every dancer I’ve asked responds with Super Glue to close up small cuts on their feet. Make sure the cut is clean and sterile and skin is trimmed, then do as the ER doctor might and use super glue to bring the edges of the skin together. Again, strategic taping can help keep a cut from opening further and keep it covered while it heals. One dancer and choreographer who shall remain nameless even recommended urinating on your open wounds to make them heal faster – but we really don’t need to go that far, and I wouldn’t recommend it – ewww! 

Pro tips from Alan Kroll: Cuts need to be kept clean and sterile, preventing microorganisms from growing. This can be done with an alcohol swab or an antiseptic like Hibiclens. Bacitracin with zinc is an antibiotic cream that will help heal cuts faster. Leukotape is great for holding skin together as it is a strong adhesive and can stay on for a few days! Just be careful taking it off as it can tear skin too (nail polish remover works well as a dehesive.)

Legs with bruises

My poor legs in mid-February after performances with a lot of floor work.

Blisters

To prevent: Blisters form due to friction on the outer layers of skin. Placing a layer between what rubs and your skin can eliminate that friction. This could be tights, clothing or tape in many cases. Your skin will also toughen up with exposure so you will be less susceptible to blisters once your skin gets used to a new shoe or to dancing barefoot. If a blister is raw for a prolonged period or getting worse, then you need to remove the irritant to let it heal.

To heal: As with calluses, dancers can use a balm or oil to make sure their skin stays soft and doesn’t dry out and harden around the blister. Some dancers like using New-Skin to protect an open blister, while others will just wrap it in waterproof tape that won’t slide around during dance. Keep an open blister clean, sterile and covered.

Pro tips from Alan Kroll: If the blister is still intact, don’t pop it. If it has popped, leave the skin over the wound. If you need to pop it, use a sterile needle to make a small hole at the bottom and let the fluid drain out. Again, sterilize and cover an open or popped blister. Place a soft doughnut around the blister in addition to New-Skin or a Silipos (gel pad) protection. Simple Dr. Scholl’s callus pads work well as does moleskin, which can be cut to size and also used for cuts and splits. Lots of companies make “blister kits” that you can buy at the drug store.

Bruises

To prevent: Bruises occur when capillaries, the smallest blood vessels, and sometimes tiny veins are broken due to impact, allowing blood to pool near the surface of the skin. The fun purple, blue, brown and yellow colors you see are from your blood! Other than wearing padding, there is not much to prevent bruising except trying your best to control descents to the floor with strong muscles and smooth, coordinated movement, and trying not to run into things! Have we mentioned dancers are clumsy? (See this fun article: Why are dancers so clumsy?)

To heal: Use balms like Traumeel and Topricin, or Biofreeze and other arnica creams.

Pro tips from Alan Kroll: Don’t use a warming balm like Tiger Balm – it’s going to have the opposite effect and bring more blood to the area! Something like Traumeel is great because research has demonstrated that it has the similar anti-inflammatory and healing effects of NSAIDs (like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen), but without the negative soft tissue side effects. 

Don’t let these little troubles get to you! You can easily take care of them so they don’t become persistent problems. Prevention is best, but sometimes that is a more difficult thing to do with a small injury like a bruise or a floor burn which, by the way, you should sterilize and keep clean and covered!

So use the tools of the trade to help you get on the mend quickly. Use all creams, especially antibacterial and antiseptics, as directed, and get creative with experimenting and practicing with your taping and padding techniques. Find something that works for you! Just remember, if anything is causing you persistent or intolerable pain, or looks infected, go see a trusted medical professional.

Alan Kroll, MS, ATC, is the owner of SportCare, and provides injury care and fitness training for performance enhancement to dancers, athletes, musicians and musical theatre performers in the New York City area.

This is merely an advice column. If you have questions or concerns about any of this information or your own cuts, blisters or bruises please speak to a medical professional. Dance Informa is not liable for the misuse of this information and encourages you to speak to a medical practitioner before using any of the techniques or products listed.

Posted in Dance Health4 Comments