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Getting through injury


Thecatsmother
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I have been relatively lucky during my dance career but am struggling with the prospect of trying to find a solution to what has become a chronic injury. It would be useful to hear how other people coped and what they did to keep entertained when out of action. I hope by posting this it might also help other dancers or parents of dancers in a similar situation as injury can be an isolating process.

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Presumably you have already taken advice on treatment etc. I know I thought I had a permanent recurring injury which has been completely relieved by a visit to a local very good holistic osteopath. I put up with it for ages before going. The source of this was in my lower back which was getting pulled to one side. In three treatments the pain just went!! Since July Ive had no probs but he said it might be good to check out every two or three months and gave me some exercises to do meanwhile. I'm sure it will return at some point but nice to know I can get quite long term relief from it and I have been trying really hard in class since not to "tuck under" too much and to give that part of my lower back more space as it were. But some chronic injuries can be relieved with some maintenance work!!

 

If cannot do ballet at mo there is a form of yoga called scaravelli yoga which is a very gentle form and particularly focuses on the spine and gentle easing in and out of positions. You can choose not todo or adapt any part which causes any aggravation but a good teacher(as in ballet) will ask if you have any current injuries.

There is another form of movement called Feldenkreis if you can find a teacher which is also fairly gentle just to keep something going.

But it is frustrating and I hope doesnt interfere too much with your teaching for long.

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It's a mid foot injury named after Napoleon's surgeon who apparently fell off his horse and his foot stayed in the stirrup. No horse riding involved for me just a fall. A bone in the mid foot starts to dislocate due to ligament or bone injury. Apparently it is quite rare but will require two joints to be fused in my foot and then in plaster:(

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Sorry Balleteacher just seen your answering post!!

 

I hope it gets better okay.....will your leg be in a caste as well or just the foot area or will you be in one of these large boots I have seen people wearing?

 

If you have access to the muscles of the leg that would be good as you can have a bit of control in them not seizing up completely but not much good if in a caste.

 

Maybe you can sort of do a one sided barre after a couple of weeks with the injured leg propped up. Or at least some floor exercises.

Your injury sounds more serious but when I broke my ankles(not at the same time) after about three weeks I was able to use the caste to get around as well at home it's amazing how agile you can be in fact. The worse thing is the palaver bathing etc!!!

 

It is all a bit of a long process though but you could be back to absolute normal within 6-9months with a bit of luck.

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There was a lady, Maria Fay, who used to write in the Dancing Times who described "floor barre" where you lie down to do the exercises.

 

I found these with a quick trawl on the internet for floor barre:

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Maria-Fays-Floor-Barre-Fay/dp/1852731311

 

http://www.balletforyou.co.uk/page14.htm

 

Although I am sure your physiotherapist  or appropriate specialist will be able to advise.

 

 

When I did something to my foot a couple of months ago, I was only laid up for a couple of days and it drove me crazy!

 

As regards passtimes - daytime television can become very addictive and I would have been lost without my kindle.  I'm too clumsy but a number of my friends are keen on cross stitch, tapestry, knitting etc.

 

Good luck!

Edited by Janet McNulty
edited to mention passtimes
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V sweet. Thank you for all your support. I need to have a nuclear scan so will be like that scene in the Simpsons where he goes into radioactive plant.

 

It's a cast I think below knee and needs to be plaster to reduce risk of the bone moving. I think it them goes to walking plaster after 6 weeks. I guess it will make a good ankle weight:)

 

Thanks for all the ideas as am terrible at sitting still. I will not say anything re causation of injury on a public forum but what I will say is do be careful on wet shop floors.

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Oh no, I'm sorry to hear its so serious. I am not good with inactivity either. If you are handy could you make some Christmas pressies? Lavender bags/ bookmarks/ cross stitch/ jams & preserves? Or is there something you are interested in? Photography/ musical instrument? Do you like writing? You could start writing a novel, they say everyone has one in them!

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One of the problems with being an active person and then having to suddenly become inactive is not only the mental aspect - but chemical.  The body is used to pumping out a certain amount of energy and chemistry for that energy.  Like a surge of adrenalin that one feels after an emergency.   When we are ill we don't feel like moving - but when we are injured we don't feel sick and thus have this excess energy.  And add to that the fear of what happens if........

 

Use your energy and time while healing to advantage.  Read the book you've not had time for.   Do some dance related research.  Many great teachers taught without ever leaving their chair - David Howard was one of them. 

 

As for a cast on the foot - I had one many decades ago when I broke my fifth mettarsal.  When the doctor realised I was a dancer he extended what should have been a to the ankle cast to an over the knee cast to keep me immobile.  However,  I found the casted foot made a great weight for whipping around to speed up my fouettés (speaking of stupid)!!  I shudder to think I did that!!

 

I continued to teach using my more advanced students to demonstrate.  I wrote about dance.  I broadened my social activities - more luncheon dates with friends.  The art classes I always wanted to take.  Sketch dancers.  Go to a mall and sketch people.  Mentor another teacher.  Design costumes.  Or - do something totally different.  Take a friend and a bagged lunch and drive to a pretty place and sit in the car and watch the ducks go by.  (Fortunately, I have the Pacific Ocean).  The total rehab from that fairly common injury was about  6 months. 

 

Allow yourself a cry or two -- it's ok.  A stiff upper lip isn't crying - but it isn't smiling either.  Do both.

 

You always have to think about Plan B.

 

As for me, at this time I am running out of plans B, C and D.  I'm on my second attack of sciatica in one year.  And over 7 decades of taking up space on the planet isn't helping. 

 

But, one's ballet heart still  helps.  Dancers are wonderful patients - we obey directions.  We do the exercises we are told to do.  We are disciplined.  We moan a lot (well, I do) - but we don't give up. 

 

I wish you a speedy and complete recovery and a long and wonderful career in this art form we love and share.

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I did carry on teaching (not ballet!) with both my breaks after a week in one instance and two weeks in the other. But by then I was peripatetic so the schools were very good at providing me with somewhere to work downstairs which was great for taking mind off it all.

 

But on the first one it was just before Christmas(the first one without my mum around as it happened) so had to spend a few days on my own whilst partner in Cornwall visiting rellies. I got quite resourceful in how to move objects around.....like a system of chairs across the room so I could move a plate of food in small steps!! But as it was Christmas I just got into watching lots of films and crying my way through half of them!!

My partner made me a tubular bag from a black dustbin bag to cover the caste when taking baths etc and I had a system of pillows for placing leg on at night in bed.

It really is amazing how quickly you adapt to the caste being there. For me it was not painful in the caste except for first thing in the morning on first putting leg down onto the floor......the nearest thing I can compare it too is when your leg goes to sleep and its painful as the blood flows back again....similar to that....but only lasted a couple of minutes. I was more nervous when it came off as it took a couple of months to get more confident walking without any crutches at all but completely back to normal took a bit longer. If I had being doing ballet at the time I would probably have been confident to go back about 4- 5 months later but pointe work another couple of months again.

However each injury is unique so this is just looking on the bright side.

 

Both of my falls had a connection with wet surfaces!! The first sliding on some wet grass and the second slipping(but I was running) on a wet floor in a school. So beware of wet surfaces!!

It has made me more nervous though.....when it's snow or icy surfaces I now always go out with walking poles!!

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Thank you so much for all the ideas. I guess ballet is a great form of non verbal self expression which I will miss so I am going to have to find another source.

 

I hope the ideas in this thread may also help other dancers to construct a metaphorical first aid kit to get through a period like I am facing. Luckily I have another job and although this will have to be limited it should help to keep me going practically and give me a small amount of earnings. I don't hold out much hope re my legal case as store destroyed most of CCTV footage.

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http://www.theballetblog.com/article/dance-injuries/how-to-treat-a-dance-injury/

 

I guess I will have to see. I have some solos to choreograph which I am going to try and do seated.

 

Above is a new blog from Lisa Howell re managing to reduce impact of injuries from the point of the injury. I hope it might help others if they read now as you never know the minute????

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I'm sorry to hear of your injury and wish you well in your recovery. I think there are two main things you could do - one is organise/plan. Get things like Christmas and any birthdays you have during this time of inactivity sorted in advanced, likewise with any paperwork you can catch up on or prepare in advance so that later on when you are active and busy again you just need sign and post. The other is to indulge yourself a little - watch a ballet or film you have always wanted to see, read that book you have been meaning to read, look up and try out some new recipes - all of us get in that cooking rut. Good luck.

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I agree the courts are usually good at piecing together the evidence, the shop would find it difficult to argue that a trained ballet dancer would trip over their own feet for no particular reason! I guess you are not allowed to talk about it whilst the case is pending but I hope justice is done

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I think there is a Health and Safety rule.....that may be optional rather than obligatory....that when a public building has a wet floor there have to be warning signs about this. If there were no signs up then I think you could be okay but if there were it may be more difficult.But I wish you luck with this.

 

In my case of the wet floor in the school I may have been able to sue and a couple of people encouraged me to but in the end I did not as I did think it was actually my fault anyway(even though was doing someone a favour at the time.....so just shows how unfair life can be at times!....as I was running(to get something) and it was well after most people had left the building....happened about 5.45pm after a team meeting.....we used a particular school for our base. I felt sorry for the cleaner who had just done a magnificent job on the floor and was genuinely concerned that someone had fallen over.

 

I do think there are such things as accidents and only believe compensation should be laid in truly gross negligent cases.

 

I'm not sure if I had been self employed though.....would I have had such a generous attitude? But I was lucky I only missed two weeks the first time(the holidays took up quite a bit of time) and one week in the second instance(and that happened a week before the half term week so was lucky a bit there too) if I had had to miss months of work with no pay perhaps I would have tried for comp then.

..

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Yes, it is complex and quite shocking the way the store have managed it. I am the second ex professional dancer/teacher to be injured in this store. I will say no more re this as it is a public forum.

 

For now I have to distance the injustice of the situation and concentrate on recovery.

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This could end up working in your favour if it looks as though they may have destroyed evidence deliberately....

 

My thought too: what have they got to hide?  I hope you get justice.

 

I'm also glad to see you have another job which will bring you some income - the practicalities of life are important!  Perhaps this - rather closing the stable door after the horse has bolted - would be a good time to consider some form of income insurance if you depend financially on your teaching.

 

I too was going to mention floor barre, although it may be a bit early for that yet.  As others have said, you *can* teach sitting down, although that will probably depend on what type of classes you take - if the dancers are far enough advanced to know what they should be doing, it might work.  As for filling in the rest of your time, as a self-employed person I've made a "to do" list for when work is slack, so that I can at least be doing something constructive.  Have you done your tax return yet?  What about re-assessing your finances etc., seeing whether you can get more advantageous interest rates, all those sort of tedious things that flit through your brain at times and you think "I really ought to do something about that ...".  If you get those out of the way now, you'll have more freedom to do what you actually like once you're fit and well again.

 

I'm wondering how Lauren Cuthbertson has spent the last year coping with being injured.  I'm pretty sure I saw an interview with her about it - think she expanded her horizons by going to art galleries, theatre, that sort of thing that she wouldn't have had time for - but of course much of that costs money, which may be tight.  Is there something creative you've always fancied doing but never had time for?  The last thing you want to be doing is looking back on this period and thinking "All that spare time I had, and I never really made use of it.  Why on earth didn't I do ...?"

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Balleteacher ......when you said this it caught my eye:

 

" I guess ballet is a great form of non verbal self expression which I will miss so I am going to have to find another source."

 

One of the aspects of ballet that is either untaught, or sadly undertaught, is the mime used in the classical ballets.  Not the mime of Marcel Marceau - but ballet mime.  And, not  only the doing of it but its wonderful history.  Many of the movements - such as the beautiful grand reverence (as men are seen doing in The Three Musketeers), was originally done by women - and was in the case of the men, not a reverence at all but an economic statement of "place" in the French Court.

 

It might very well make an interesting study and book - especially if combined with sketches - for the ballet teacher's book shelf of resource material.

 

It certainly is a form of non-verbal expression and is also the catalyst which moves the story along.

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