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Dancers and tiredness


swe
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Hello everyone,

I have noticed that over the last few months my dd seems to get absolutely shattered after ballet-especially if she does a double lesson. Tonight she did an exam prep class with one other student and I know they don't get much of a rest but she looked ill when she came out. I wonder if she needs a protein boost before dancing (this class is straight after school so no time for tea). Other than ballet she doesn't do any stamina-building stuff like swimming because there is no time, but she also says her muscles won't seem to function properly after about half an hour or so of ballet. When she does a 2 minute dance full on she also seems exhausted! Any comments greatly received as usual.

Thanks

swe

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Hi Swe,

 

My dd was suffering from this and one day she came out of Associates having not eaten enough during the day, absolutely exhausted, white as a sheet, feeling sick and looking almost like a diabetic on the verge of hypoglycaemia. Lots of blood tests etc later, the doctor decided she wasn't eating enough for the amount of dancing she does, and her blood sugar was indeed dropping really quite low.

 

We changed her cereal to porridge, her white bread sandwiches to plain tortilla wraps (lower GI), and make her eat an apple or banana plus a low-ish sugar cereal bar, plus have a quick drink before class, and it's made a huge difference.

 

She still gets up as early and works as hard but she no longer falls asleep on the train home now. It might be well worth looking at giving your dd lower GI food and snacks in a bid to keep her blood sugar steadier for longer and give her sustained fuel for dancing.

 

It's helped her stamina too as she no longer gets as out of breath. Hope that helps. :-)

 

Edited to say that by lowish-sugar I don't mean things with sweeteners in, I mean something that's mostly oats, some cereal, and dried fruit. My dd likes the Jordans Frusli bars.

 

As Anjuli says though, it's worth getting a GP check to rule out anaemia, diabetes etc. Once you know whether it is purely a matter of getting the nutrition right, there is a very good book called "Nutrition for the dancer" by Zerlina Mastin. Dd's teacher lent it to us and there is a section on young dancers.

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The first thing I would recommend is a full out medical checkup to rule out any problems.

 

A professional checkup for nutrition problems is also recommended.

 

A protein boost - hmmm - be careful some have "hidden" caffeine. I wouldl not recommend going this route - you need to get to the bottom of the problem - not a stopgap measure.

 

You didn't mention her age and number of years dancing, however, for general purposes - a two minute dance is not that much - it's surely within the norm and a dancer should be able to physically do this without a problem.

 

Perhaps her schedule is too full. Is she sleeping well? Is she still happy about dancing? Is there something else going on?

 

She should not look ill coming out of class - even if only two were in class (that's happened to me several times!)

 

If the muscles are not functioning properly after 30 min or so of ballet - it's time to call a halt and fully investigate what is going on.

 

I urge you to do a full-on evaluation. And I wish her well.

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That sounds like good advice Spannerandpony-my daughter also goes white as a sheet-whereas all her friends turn red as beetroots-that is what prompted my question. We did try the porridge thing but she got fed up with it-maybe I will try a few times a week and look at her diet in general-many thanks x

Reply from Anjuli_Bai come through as I was responding so I will pop to the drs too to rule anything else out thanks x

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I had the same when i was dancing years ago.It was a mixture of not eating enough or not the right food,not enough water,anemia and my blood sugar level would drop after this.This is definatly not normal but nothing to worry about.She must get check up asap so you can get to the bottom of it,and then she will be back to normal and feel great.

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Not sure how old your DD is swe but mine had a real energy dip around the time she first started her periods. She also went through a phase of having dizzy spells and lots of migraines (not just at dancing - anytime.) I was getting a bit worried but it all settled down after a few months so I think it was something hormonal that just resolved itself. I wonder if something similar could be going on with your DD? Has she just had a big growth spurt recently or anything?

I definitely think it's worth taking her to the doctor though - always better safe than sorry. I hope she picks up soon.

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My DD1 although not a dancer was having problems with tiredness and it turned out her stored iron levels were very low. This was discovered through having a blood test done so I would do this to help you rule anything out if it has been going on for some time and not a one off. I noticed a big difference after she started her iron course which is for 3 months. Dd1 is veggie (for about 3 years) and this and periods probably were the reason for this iron problem. She is a healthy weight and I put her tiredness down to being a teenager!

 

DD2 who dances daily gets really hungry and quite often has dance straight from school so I am going to start using some of your snack advice Spanner.

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All I can say is-thank goodness for the forum! Feel much better after all your posts and will take dd to doctor asap. To answer Pups_mum-yes dd has shot up (again) recently and this could also be at the root of her tiredness.

xx

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I'd say definitely see her doctor - and rule out viral infections and suchlike while you're at it. I'm remembering what Lauren Cuthbertson went through a few years ago, and wouldn't wish that on anyone.

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Hope you can soon sort things out for your dd, Swe. Fingers crossed it is something simple...

 

Proper nutrition for young dancers is absolutely vital -they are exercising an awful lot and their bodies and brains are trying to grow and develop at the same time.

 

I think that most keen dance students, even if not at vocational schools, are taking a lot of classes each week plus sports at school etc. We've had to learn about this subject as my dd has a lot of food allergies, which caused a number of problems until they were diagnosed and her diet permanently changed. She now has so much more energy and even after strenuous days is so much less tired than she used to be. Correct nutrition, and adequate amounts of it, also helps to prevent illness and injury.

 

They are really hot on this at the CAT schemes, and have regular health and nutrition sessions: on Sunday they had a nutritionist from Laban come to talk to them and dd said it was really helpful. Eating enough of the right foods is key - especially before class, but it's also essential to replace calories lost afterwards so the body can recover its glycogen levels for the next day. Drinking enough is also really important!

 

It's a good idea to keep a ready supply of quality snacks in the car (fresh and dried fruit, nuts, rice cakes, decent cereal bars, fruit smoothies etc) so that they can be grabbed on route to and from class.

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I would echo alison and suggest you get a doctor to consider whether she has a post viral fatigue problem. Fingers crossed it isn't - and it's something easy to treat like anaemia. My ds has "overtrained" for periods in the past, and not allowed his body recovery time from viral infections. It's just not worth the risk - Lauren Cuthbertson was out of dancing for a year!

 

Good Luck and keep us posted how she gets on.

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One of the things I noticed when I was heavily into dancing and teaching (about 6-8 hrs per day) - my appetite would disappear. So, I learned not to depend on feeling hungry to remind me to eat. There are meal times that are usually scheduled into the day but snack times need to occur, too. Snacks are important. Of course, it is a given that they should of good quality as Klaris mentioned above.

 

So, don't wait for the hungry signal - when there has been significant output there has to be significant input.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thought I would give you an update..dd had blood tests for anaemia/glandular fever/thyroid etc. etc. and all negative-phew. However, since I posted I have changed her diet by including a bit more red meat and leafy veg, pasta, rice and generally bigger portions-she is still a growing teenager afterall. I have also ordered a book off the internet on dancer nutrition! I have to say she is already looking ( a bit) better. The most interesting thing of all however, is the day Anjuli posted the thread on breathing was the same day dd's ballet teacher asked (the whole class) 'do you ever breathe when you dance?' What a coincidence! When I pursued this with dd she confessed she felt quite tense with concentration during ballet and that made it difficult to know when to breathe. So I also think that aside from diet she is not breathing properly-no wonder she is so out of breath after a 2 minute dance and looks so exhausted! Hopefully by addressing all these things, she will start to have more energy during her dancing and thank you all for the advice xx

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That's good news, swe. I think that it's really easy for all teenagers, not just DCs, to get run down. I have a non-dancing teenager and he is much less healthy than he was when he was younger. I think that it's very important that teenagers get enough iron, calcium and protein in their diets - which can be difficult if the child is a fussy eater, vegetarian or not keen on red meat or weight-conscious. I've started giving my teenager eggs for breakfast several days a week. I don't think that there's a problem with cholesterol at this age and I think that protein fills you up for longer than carbohydrates. Most of us give our children cereal for breakfast but I personally think that the health benefits are very limited (but perhaps I'm biased because I really don't like cereal myself).

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Glad that things are improving, Swe and that there is no underlying health concern. My grandmother used to say that teenagers often 'outgrew their strength' during and after a growth spurt! I hope that the dietary changes and your DD remembering to breathe whilst dancing will mean that she doesn't have an overly long 'outgrown strength' phase.

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My DS went through a phase of passing out if he didn't drink enough water. Fortunately this was sufficiently embarrassing that he soon stopped making that mistake- but it shows how important drinking is. And I notice I feel significantly more tired on my cycle to work (13 miles over BIG hills) if I don't slug back water as I go....

DS also struggled with exhaustion/low blood sugar towards the end of class in the first term of vocational school (3-4 hours class a day) and this was solved by energy bars, bananas and much more care to have regular snacks before class and a milk shake or something a bit sustaining to drink throughout the class. He is still growing (we have been reliably informed 'like a weed') but seems to have adapted his intake to his output now... I do think growth spurts and increases in training have to be watched carefully - they seem always to be working to capacity so any additional strain on the system can tip the balance

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Very glad that there are no underlying health problems. :-))

 

My dd has "proper" porridge (as opposed to Ready Brek) for breakfast on "dancing days" and cereal on non-dancing days, but her cereal is now Jordans strawberry or raspberry crunch instead of Weetos, which she used to eat. As the Jordans is oat based it gives her a nice steady release of energy.

 

So for non egg eating dks, there are still cereals that are fine for dancers. :-)

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My dd had eyb rehearsals all weekend loved it no problems at all looked in her mouth tonight full of ulsars ( sorry if I've misspelt that ) she says she feels ok but her mouth is sore has SATS next week she's 11 year 6 so don't know weather it's school or dance that's wearing her out or a combination of both, she eats well and doesn't look poorly it took me by surprise tonight when she mentioned her sore mouth has anyone else had this problem x

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my non-dancing daughter suffers from mouth ulcers when she's run down - she does lots of netball and athletics, which take their toll. She uses bonjela and a liquid she dabs on them, beginning with A that I've forgotten the name of...so I started googling to find the name of it and came across this article:

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1176600/Five-best-mouth-ulcer-remedies.html

 

Now I take everything Daily Mail says with a large pinch of salt, but may be useful - I've not heard of any of their recommended products.

 

Re the exhaustion, my DD is also often very pale when dancing and has had fainting episodes, but thankfully never passed out in class - just about to. We have concluded this is partly due to holding her breath when dancing - cue Anjuli's post about this very thing!

 

I think at 16 (DD) or 13 (Non DD) life is tough - GCSE's, periods, insomnia, high levels of exercise, sporadic or faddy eating....it's a wonder our teenagers are still standing! I agree with the above though, porridge, bananas and water work wonders!

Sx

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If you suffer from mouth ulcers you should avoid toothpaste that contains sodium lauryl sulphate (might not be the correct spelling). Most (but not all) sensodyne toothpastes don't have it in but check ingredients. DH used to suffer regularly until he came across this info and it has made a difference.

 

Swe, I was really glad to read your DD's tests were ok. :)

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My dh gets awful mouth ulcers when he's run down. The best remedy he's found is a Boots' own mouth ulcer treatment which you dab on and it creates a seal over the ulcer. Works wonders, apparently. :-)

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Agree with Robin on the sodium lauryl sulphate-other younger dd gets awful mouth ulcers when tired and run down but since changing toothpaste- a definite improvement. Superdrug do one in a lilac tube without this ingredient (I believe it's only a foaming agent so you are not missing anything vital).

Thanks for the good wished re the blood tests x

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swe - I can't help wondering if everything is all right at school, and that she isn't suffering undue pressure there.

 

Are there any issues with friends/boys etc or with a lack of understanding from the teachers about how much she does outside school that she might be getting stressed about?

 

My dd had a lot of hassle from one particular (maths) teacher last year, leading up to exams, and she got very run down and emotionally drained over it. I went in and had a chat with the teacher, and explained the situation, and it seemed to do the trick.

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Hello Taxi

Certainly she has just finished mocks and has several gcse papers coming up so yes, she is probably stressed. We are also at that time where we need to be thinking about A levels v vocational school as she is in year 10 and in September need to start the application process. She knows that if she wants to try and have a career in ballet she needs to go away at 16 but me and dh worry about her not getting A levels. She is also a 'young one' still 14 not 15 til August and never wanted to go away to vocational school. Decisions decisions..

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Yes, we tend to think of stress in terms of business-suited middle-aged men, rather than in children.

 

Considering that most young dancers have to do a full day of schoolwork plus homework etc, and then spend nearly every evening at dance classes, it would be surprising if they didn't get stressed!

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