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Advice on muscle cramp


girloverboard
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Hello all. Long time lurker, first time poster here. I’m wondering if I could ask you lovely and knowledgeable people for some advice.

 

I’ve been taking adult recreational ballet classes for about three years now, having done ballet as a child, but quit to focus on jazz and modern as a teenager. I've come back to dance after about fifteen years away, and am currently taking two ballet classes a week - one  beginners class and one improvers class, plus a contemporary and a tap class. In the ballet improvers class, I’m finding I’m having real difficulty with cramps in my calf muscles. No problems with demi pointe in general, and rarely any trouble with relevé on two legs, but nearly every time I try to hold a retiré for any length of time, the calf of my working leg cramps up after a few seconds and I have to come down out of it. (very embarrassing when the rest of the class are holding their balance and I’m hunched over like some kind of hobbit, rubbing my leg and trying not to swear out loud) Is there anything I can do to help stop this from happening, aside from just more practice? I drink lots of water and eat bananas, so I don’t think it’s a lack of hydration or potassium, as my dear husband, who is well versed in physical fitness as a black belt in karate, has suggested. I avoid heels on days I have ballet class, and I make sure I stretch, so I’m not sure why I always seem to have this problem, and in this class in particular.

 

Any tips on avoiding this annoying and painful occurance would be welcomed and appreciated!

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Bananas - even more than you eat already? - and tonic water? It may simply be that your calf muscles need to become accustomed to ballet, especially as it happens in the ballet improves class rather than the beginners class. Would legwarmers help? - psychologically as well as physically. Does your teacher have any suggestions to try to avoid your hobbit pose?! ( love that description, it made me chuckle ;-) )

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Do you warm up thoroughly before class?

Take some extra care here with calves, feet and ankles. Keep warm (legwarmers, if you may wear them).

 

Also do easy parallel stretches between the barre exercises.  At home or before class I recommend the use of a theraband. You'd want the blood circulation going!

 

Taking magnesium, like aussieballetmum said, could also be helpful.

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You might also want to examine the contents of the class - analyze the content of the barre/centre exercises and their progression.  Some teachers unwittingly give too much releve compared to the amount of plié. I had such a teacher once and it took me a while to figure out that this was the problem.  That it may not affect others in the class doesn't matter - it may be affecting you.

 

The relevé on one foot may be happening too early in the warmup (barre/centre) or there is not enough plié in between.

 

Shoes can make a difference as can weather as well as the means by which you arrive at class: walking a distance and/or sitting in a car or train.

 

Since, if I understood you correctly, it is happening in that one class - the clue would seem to be in the content of the class.

Edited by Anjuli_Bai
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Salt helps with cramp and you can also but tablets for it. I used to take them when I got bad leg cramps at night (think I grew out if it eventually). The ones I took were called Crampex I think though that was about 20 years ago! You don't have to take them every day, just on the days you do classes.

 

Also agree that it may just be a lack of strength/practice and may take time. I got cramp in my calf in my intermediate exam!! I stayed up on Demi pointe as long as I could but it was too intense and I had to come down and rub my calf and flex my foot! The examiner realised what the matter was and gave me a minute to get rid of it!

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I agree that it could be just getting used to it again but three years should be long enough. When I first went back to ballet after a 20 year gap I continually got cramp if went up into a releve....for about 6months!! I'm now a bit of a banana freak but in the end I think my muscles did just get used to the exercises.

 

However having said that in some classes if the progression is quite fast in difficulty at the barre I do still get cramp occasionally. Inspite of the long barre though in some of my Russian classes I rarely get cramp as have done so many tend us and demi plies and so on always get fully warmed up.

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