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Shin splints


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I seem to have developed shin splints with impeccable timing just a week before my advanced foundation exam! Has anyone got any hints or tips at managing with it?

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I had a shin splint type injury a number of years ago. Unfortunately, I foolishly thought, 'It'll be fine' without doing anything about it. So it made me have a longer recovery time. If you know of a dance physio, I would recommend going to see them for advice as well as icing, etc. The physio would be able to give you some remedial exercises if this is relevant for you. I would suggest a dance physio, rather than a 'normal' physio so they know what you mean when you mention demi-plies, allegro, etc, without you having to explain what these are.

 

Good luck.

Edited by Dancer Sugar Plum
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Ice, ice and more ice, several times a day. Gentle calf stretches (although not after the ice treatment). Modified activity if you're worried about total rest, but you should be tapering down now anyway. If you don't know what tapering means, look it up in relation to athletics or other sports. If you're going for modified activity, avoid anything needing Demi pointe, including full plies except 2nd, pirouettes, any barre done on a rise, also no jumps or pointe work, and for centre work and adage, use flat shoes or no shoes so you're not gripping or wobbly in soft blocks. Better still to avoid weight bearing class at all - again if you're worried about conditioning, do floor barre, or use a swimming pool.

 

Mental rehearsal of all your exam work including your key technical points to remember is 80% as effective as actually doing it so put the music on, close your eyes and think everything through in lots of detail. This itself takes practise! Think so hard of all the corrections you usually get, and try to visualise yourself doing each exercise the best you can, implementing all the corrections. It's not easy! But do it lots and your brain-to-body connections will be reinforced every time you use this technique. You'll find when you come to do it for real that things seem easier.

 

I would only advise you see a physio if it's a good dance physio who will help you get the best out of your exam. I would urge caution where massage is concerned, with a week to go, as massage usually causes an inflammatory response (it's intended to) which then helps healing. But the time frame for this is 5-7 days. If you were my patient, or student for that matter, my priority would be making you pain free for the exam, and then I would treat the underlying condition immediately afterwards.

PM me if you want any more advice.

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Thank you everyone for your replies! Used the last of the ice packs from the pe department in school today haha! They aren't too bad now they are feeling a little better:)

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Avoid hard surfaces - that includes not only where you dance but also walking.

 

 No open toed flimsy shoes such as flip-flops, sandals, etc.  

 

Also avoid shoes with hard soles such as wood.  

 

You want shoes that have a resilient, supportive sole such as a good walker.  

 

No pounding movements such as would be done in tap dance - or anything resembling that.  

 

As you return to dance make sure your feet are thoroughly warmed up - with gentle exercise, before class.

 

Rest

 

Get thoroughly healed.  This condition can become chronic if not taken care of.  

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Thank you everyone, been iceing and elevating and they have been a little better, I did class today and they were absolutely fine throughout class just a little achy on grande allegro and then afterwards

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Glad to hear that. Take very good care this week, stretch lots but don't do ANYTHING that will irritate your shins (remember the mental rehearsal technique I wrote about earlier), and then once your exam is done, go and see a dance or sports physio. 

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I am glad that this issue is getting air time in this way, but Patrick Rump isn't doing much more than other dance scientists such as Professor Wyon have been doing, or at least recommending, for years. When I began my PhD study nearly 10 years ago it was accepted that injury rates were far too high in dance, and that it was fatigue at joints & at an individual muscle level as well as whole body fatigue, that was the major cause of injury. Many dance scientists have been trying to address the issue of injury prevention for a long time and this video makes it seem a bit like this is all new. But, like I said at the start of my post, I suppose that anything raising awareness of this giant issue is a good thing.

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Maybe the answer is rather simple - the body is being asked to do something beyond its capability.  Whether its range of motion, speed, height, duration, repetitive motion, specific or  general fatigue - the demand has gotten beyond how it was intended to be used.

 

A good clue, I think, is that if one reads the bios and autobios of dancers of yore - injury is much less common.

 

As I think of many of the great dancers such as Karsavina, Pavlova, Nijinsky, Dolin, Plisetskaya, Fonteyn, Alonso,  - they occasionally mention getting ill, and yes, some injury - but not to the degree of the dancers of today.

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I think the demands of today's choreography certainly is a factor but it's difficult to conclude that there are more injuries nowadays based on anecdotal evidence - the 'dancers of yore' had a different approach/culture/mentality regarding injury. It was deemed unprofessional to admit to being in pain, pain was part of the job and you had to deal with it and not complain about it, it was disrespectful to the teachers if you stopped due to 'injury' etc etc

 

What we would now call an injury, and treat, was probably danced through and referred to as 'part of the job' - hence the apparent lack of discussed injuries.

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I agree with Anjuli. The repetition of movements, and a lot is done on Demi point is so unnatural for the body. My daughter gets sore tendons and feet. Dancers work and train long hours using these muscles, tendons, joints constantly. That is why good teaching and training is crucial.

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I would say that the evidence is more than anecdotal.  We can see with our own eyes that the choreography which the dancers of yore were asked to do was less physically demanding. The flat turnout demanded today is certainly less of a natural movement than the turnout of yesterdays dancers.

 

 We can also see that the amount of work schedule was different.  Prima Ballerina Assoluta Kschessinskaya only danced six months out of the year.

 

 Prima Ballerina Natalia Makarova says that she was surprised after she defected to the West how much heavier the dance schedule was for the dancers in western companies.  She says that women in the Soviet Union were not expected to dance during menstruation.  In the Soviet Union she only danced a couple performances per month whereas in the West principal dancers performed several times a week.

 

Many dancers of yore say that much more time was given to coaching and careful rehearsing for roles.

 

I don't think that they felt the need to dance through pain any more than the dancers of today.  In fact, I think the competition is much keener today.  If one compares the hours danced by students of yore in a vocational setting with the hours danced by students in the same setting of today, from what I've read - it is much more intense.

 

In having to lift the leg higher or split wider in a jump, one can see that the stress would be greater -especially since it has become the norm.  Lifting the leg  to a greater height has to be more stressfull than holding it at a lower height.

 

The compulsion to jump higher - especially for the men - has got to be more demanding on the weight bearing joints of the body than the lower height of jump in the choreography of yesteryear.  

 

The same would be true for lifts.  A one handed lift over the head has got to be more stressful for the men than the lower lifts of yesteryear.

 

One can also see that careers tended to be longer because of the less stressful demands upon the body.

 

Sometimes the answers for which we seek are right there in front of us.

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