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Recommendations for tape or support for ankle


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#1 JulieW

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 03:47 PM

I'd appreciate hearing about anyone's experience of using tape or a brace/support of some sort on an ankle for ballet.

My nearly 18 year old dd has one foot that's weaker than the other - we're not entirely sure why, but it started when she took her Adv 1 ballet exam at the end of last year (she'd been doing a lot more pointe than normal on the run up to the exam). I am fully aware that in an ideal world we would take her to get it scanned/see a physio etc etc and find out the cause, but quite honestly, she's only going to be doing pointe for another few months and just needs something to make her feel a bit more secure while she's doing her ballet solo and group at a handful of festivals and a show. It's not painful as such, just "weak", is how she describes it, so feels she just wants some support.

She's not having any trouble with it in other forms of dance (she does a lot more modern and tap than ballet these days) - so just something to help her not feel she's going to collapse off pointe would be great. It's also only a "feeling" of weakness because she's not actually collapsing at all.

Thanks

#2 JulieW

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 04:20 PM

Been having a "Google" and found a few elastic supports that look just the job

#3 Anjuli_Bai

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 04:21 PM

I'd appreciate hearing about anyone's experience of using tape or a brace/support of some sort on an ankle for ballet.

My nearly 18 year old dd has one foot that's weaker than the other - we're not entirely sure why, but it started when she took her Adv 1 ballet exam at the end of last year (she'd been doing a lot more pointe than normal on the run up to the exam). I am fully aware that in an ideal world we would take her to get it scanned/see a physio etc etc and find out the cause, but quite honestly, she's only going to be doing pointe for another few months and just needs something to make her feel a bit more secure while she's doing her ballet solo and group at a handful of festivals and a show. It's not painful as such, just "weak", is how she describes it, so feels she just wants some support.

She's not having any trouble with it in other forms of dance (she does a lot more modern and tap than ballet these days) - so just something to help her not feel she's going to collapse off pointe would be great. It's also only a "feeling" of weakness because she's not actually collapsing at all.

Thanks


I am of two minds on this. I understand the psychological need for a feeling of "support." However, what begins as a psychological need for support can turn into a physical need for support. Supporting something while it heals is efficacious - but support in and of itself allows the body to accomplish something without using its own resources. In other words - you say the ankle is not injured - and thus if it is offered outside support then it will have less need to support itself - and thus weaken more.

What does her teacher say?

You mentioned that she has only a few more months of pointe work - but that is quite a long time for ankle to work which may not be up to the task - or quite up to the task. Even with "only" a few more months it would be much better for all her dance work to solve the problem rather than cover it up.

You used the words "feeling of weakness" and "collapsing." I had this occur many years ago. At times with no warning or pain whatsoever, one ankle would just collapse on pointe. No pain even during the collapse. What I didn't realize at the time was that a ligament in my ankle was giving way. I thought - well, there's no pain - it is surprising - but no pain - so I did nothing. Until one day it collapsed and spilled me onto the side of my foot and i broke the fifth metatarsal. Then, of course, I had to have the foot in a cast for six weeks. During that time not only the bone healed but also the ligament and I never had any trouble after that for the next two decades. Had I paid attention to the original problem I could have saved myself six weeks in a cast plus rehab time.

Please do not ignore this - don't just wrap it up. The problem may start during pointe work but if you don't find and solve the problem it will eventually manifest itself in her other dance classes.

I hope I've said something here which helps.

Edited by Anjuli_Bai, 05 September 2012 - 04:24 PM.

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#4 Jellybeans

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 04:28 PM

We have had discussions about medical issues before so, from a totally NON medical perpective I think that to be dancing en pointe with a potential injury for even the shortest amount of time could be very dangerous. What if the worst were to occur and she fell off pointe in such a way as to cause an injury that does interfere with other forms of dance or even everyday life. It may not feel likely now but if there is any inherent weakness it is certainly possible and not worth the risk.d

#5 Jellybeans

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 05:10 PM

Just to say that I hadn't seen Anjuli's reply when I posted as I was interrupted while typing so it wasn't there when I started!

#6 spannerandpony

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 05:32 PM

I'm not sure any kind of elastic support (unless you were thinking of a really constrictive one) would actually give the ankle the "braced" feeling it requires. Obviously a brace is out. One of my ankles became like that after I had sprained it several times, and the only thing that helped it feel more secure was a lot of strengthening exercises.

I know there is a lot you can do with strapping/taping but it's not something I'd EVER attempt myself. If getting your dd to a dance physio isn't feasible, could you get her in to see a good local physio quite quickly?
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#7 drdance

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 06:08 PM

Taping would help but I fully support the other posts that recommend getting the ankle looked at, and getting some strengthening exercises from a sports or dance physiotherapist. It could be a nerve issue - a trapped nerve or nerve under stretch/pressure from the spine or further up the leg can cause weakness. Or as Anjuli recalled from her experience, it could be a ligament. While taping can support the ankle with weak ligaments (many footballers tape their ankles for every game after suffering multiple ligament tears), strengthening exercises are much better in the long term, even if it is 'only a few months', and you'll get to the root of the issue.

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#8 Pas de Quatre

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 07:56 PM

I agree, it is best to seek medical advice to be on the safe side. However, having said that, I am a great fan of Tubigrip and often wear it either round an ankle, or as a strip across the metatarsals (like tennis players wear wrist supports). After many hours of teaching in a week, it just gives that extra bit of support.
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#9 BankruptMum

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 06:21 AM

After my daughter sprained her ankle a few months back she found the spots strapping Boots stocked very good, its self sticking and very flexible and as its a bandage she could use as much or as little as she wanted. Supported her ankle through a full range of movement.

#10 Stirrups36

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 08:20 AM

Hi Julie

from past experience, taping my own ankle (even doing so with nice mutipore tape and using guidance on the correct positioning) led to worse biomechanical prolems as the ankle started to rely on the tape rather than the muscle. I have problems even now, many many years later with that same foot and still have to do daily exercises to relieve pain and enable me to wallk and run (strangely, through running on my forefeet, 'barefoot running', I have no pain at all now, whereas I always do for walking).

so my advice is get it seen by a physio and relieve what might be an underlying problem that could evidence itself in any form of dancing. If it is weak on pointe, then it will still be weak for tap etc and who knows what other biomechanical damage might occur through over compensation.
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#11 JulieW

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 08:38 AM

Good points everyone. There's obviously something going on in the ankle, which might not be serious from a non-dancing point of view, but is worth checking out so she doesn't do any more serious damage. (She's hoping to be a vet rather than a dancer, so doesn't need to be able to dance on it much but don't want to make anything worse).

We've got a good local sports physio who's not bad with dancers (not ideal, but would be a good start). We'll pay them a visit.
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#12 JulieW

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 11:57 AM

I've booked her an appointment with the GP tomorrow - they're not usually very good at appreciating the need to sort these kinds of things for dancers (although I'm seeing a new lady so maybe she'll be different) so I'm going with her to be the "pushy mum". We'll need a referral from a GP if we're going to claim it on hubby's health insurance (shame about the £100 excess, but I can't see the NHS sorting this out!!).

She's staying off pointe for now.
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#13 spannerandpony

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 04:44 PM

Sounds sensible Julie - keep us posted! :-)
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#14 drdance

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 05:30 PM

I second that - best to be sure as vets are on their feet long hours too!
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#15 Anjuli_Bai

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 05:47 PM

I'm glad to hear, JulieW, and hope the problem will be swiftly solved.
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#16 JulieW

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 12:36 PM

Update for you -

Saw nice GP who has given us an x-ray form so we should be able to go and get it done on Monday. After quizzing her, it's more the side of her foot (under that sticking out ankle bone bit) than actually in the ankle. X-ray to check for stress fracture or anything else boney! but more likely to be a tendon we think.

But what was funny was that she said exactly what I know most GPs would, as their experience of dancers is so limited. She said words to this effect - if there's no fracture, I'm not sure there's much point you seeing a physio because you're already doing plenty of strengthening on it with all the dancing you do.

I zipped my mouth and didn't say anything - we'll wait to see if the x-ray shows anything and if not ask for a referral to a physio anyway. I haven't mentioned we've got private health insurance for her yet - we'll see what happens, although I did tell her my son went to vocational dance school so we do know a bit about dancers' injuries!
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#17 drdance

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 07:52 PM

You say 'under the sticking out ankle bone bit' - is it the side of the big toe (inside) or side of the little toe?

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#18 JulieW

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 08:04 PM

Outside of foot - so little toe side

#19 JulieW

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 08:07 PM

And a bit further forward than the ankle bone...

#20 drdance

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 08:21 PM

Ah right - not the FHL tendon then! Good luck with the outcome :)
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#21 JulieW

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 04:08 PM

Latest.... been for X-ray - radiographer said he couldn't see a break at first glance, but of course it'll go to the radiologist to look at. So if there's no break or stress fracture I'd better look for a good ankle/foot person I suppose as it must be a tendon or ligament.

I do rather feel that physios take guesses as what's going on (albeit educated guesses) - I'd quite like to get to the bottom of what's causing it rather than just having rather vague exercises to do. Thoughts anyone.....? Might be time to use the health insurance as a scan might be in order :rolleyes:
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#22 Anjuli_Bai

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 04:20 PM

Definitely go for additional opinions. One time I drove a neighbor who had fallen down to the hospital and they x-rayed her hip and declared it was bruised but not broken. However, another doctor many days later found it was indeed a break. This is a first rate hospital with a sterling reputation.

It happens. Medicine is as much art as science.

Getting to the root of the problem is always best - the long way round is often the best way home.

I don't think you mentioned that she was having any pain - just a weakness.

Usually a break means pain. A tendon is usually painful, too. If I had to guess (and this does no harm since you are taking her for further diagnosis) I would guess ligament.

It's just a guess....and probably wrong.
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#23 JulieW

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 05:15 PM

We've got a couple of Foot & Ankle clinics run by specialist orthopaedic surgeons in the area (Surrey and Hampshire) so I think we'll see about a referral to one of them. It's difficult to say whether it's actually painful - I'll quiz her further, but I think she can definitely feel something's wrong - whether that's manifested in pain or just a "feeling" I don't know! But I must say, I'm guessing it's a ligament too. I wonder whether there's an impingement due to some scar tissue - so definitely going to get further investigations done.

(And can get them to look at the X-ray again in case they spot something - I broke a sesamoid bone in my foot when I was about 12 and it took months for anyone to work out what was wrong - a consultant I saw finally suspected what it was and asked for an X-ray from the side of the foot and it was quite clear - you couldn't see it at all from the top view)

I'll stop boring you all now and will report back next week - lol :rolleyes:
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#24 drdance

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 05:56 PM

Good luck! By the way - it's not boring at all!
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#25 celb

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Posted 10 September 2012 - 11:13 PM

a stress fracture does not always show up on a plain x-ray anyway. A foot and ankle or sports medicine clinic would be a good place to start

#26 spooky

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 05:46 AM

When dd had stress fracture (metatarsal) there was lots of swelling and bruising. A & E put her in a cast but didn't x-ray for a couple of weeks as they were fairly sure it was fractured and said stress fractures only really show up once they have started healing when new bone growth can be seen and they try to avoid giving x-rays if possible.

edited to add: subsequent visits to A & E proved very unsatisfactory (every doctor said something different, no continuity of care and complete lack of understanding about ballet training) so we ended up using private health insurance, had an MRI scan and found a wonderful physio who coordinated everything.

Edited by spooky, 11 September 2012 - 05:50 AM.


#27 primrose

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 06:35 AM

Julie, I took Heather to see Sue Harris at the Jerwood Centre based with BRB. I know its a distance but I strongly recomend her. As you probably know she is contracted to work with BRB dancers so she knows exactly what she is talking about. Good luck.
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#28 JulieW

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Posted 11 September 2012 - 10:47 AM

Thanks Primrose, but I think 2 1/2 hours away is just be too far to convince my dd and dh that it's a good idea! If she was going to continue with dance training it might be different I suppose.

I think we'll probably go for a referral to a foot and ankle clinic with a view to getting an MRI done (I think they'd have trouble seeing a stress fracture in that part of the foot with a plain X-ray too - plus it's been like it for months so even if it was there originally it's probably already healed a bit). Then perhaps a trip to see Shirley in London for physio once we know what it is. Should've got it looked at ages ago but I admit that I just thought she's got a bit of a sprain/strain and it'd get better - but as it didn't over the long summer break there's obviously something going on.

#29 JulieW

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 04:27 PM

Update :)

Saw a very nice man last night at local private hospital - they have a clinic called "Joint Reaction". They did some more x-rays which we looked at together and he seems pretty certain that there's no stress fracture and by her description of where the pain occurs it seems to be the peroneal brevis tendon. She's going to see a radiographer who is apparently really goods at spotting problems with tendons (but sadly, he's so good that we've got to wait until half term - booked up and then taking a week's holiday) - who will give her an injection (I think he said cortisone) if he sees any damage to the tendon and then she'll be back to see the consultant again to see what to do next.

It doesn't seem too bad or too serious, but I'm glad she'll at least get to the bottom of it and there's no sign of it needing to go in a boot for now!!
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#30 spannerandpony

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Posted 09 October 2012 - 05:00 PM

Good news Julie! Best of luck with the scan and injection if she has one. Keep us posted. xxx
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