Ballerinas have the skill to make twirling across the stage look effortless, but that’s a testament to their athletic ability and grace. Ballet is an incredibly demanding sport. It necessitates strength, flexibility, balance, grace, and artistic expression. Physical therapy can help ballet dancers prevent and recover from injuries so that they can continue to dance. Regardless of whether you’re in the midst of performance season or you’re taking a summer intensive, repetitive movements for hours on end can lead to injury.
Physical therapy for ballerinas helps you to stay en pointe for longer. Here is what you need to know about some of the challenges that ballet dancers face with physical therapy, common ballet injuries that a physical therapist can help with, and signs that it’s probably time for you to look for a physical therapist.
The Challenges Ballerinas Face With Physical Therapy
To an outsider looking in, it may seem like a no-brainer for a ballet dancer to go to a physical therapist if they’re hurt. You’re in a very active dance form that pushes the body to its limits – why wouldn’t you want to have injuries taken care of as soon as possible?
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as that. There are quite a few challenges ballet dancers face when it comes to dealing with injuries, even with the help of a physical therapist.
Social Stigma And Shame
Given the demanding nature of ballet, there’s unfortunately quite a bit of stigma and shame surrounding injuries. This can lead to a dancer trying to conceal their injury and continuing to dance, even though they’re in pain.
Mental Distress And Fear For Their Career
Additionally, physical therapy tends to be a more extensive process, lasting for weeks and even months on end. While it may help a dancer recover, being told how long it will take to recover from being hurt can take quite a toll on a dancer’s mental health – especially if they are told that they should take a certain amount of time off of dancing.
This can be quite a difficult situation, especially if in the midst of rehearsals or performances. Ballet dancers often fear that taking the time needed in order to heal properly will negatively impact their ability to achieve their goals.
Finding Physical Therapists Who Understand Dance
Dancers also struggle to find physical therapists who understand the demands of ballet. Many a dancer has left a physical therapist’s office with an all clear because they can go about standard daily activities without pain, but then when they try to dance, they find the issue hasn’t been properly resolved.
These can lead to dancers not obtaining the help that they need and ignoring their pain until it’s gotten to the point where they can no longer dance. It’s crucial to get the help of a physical therapist when you need it in order to continue dancing. Not only can a physical therapist help you recover from an injury, but they can also help you prevent future injuries by teaching you exercises and the like that you can do in order to keep your body in good condition.
Common Ballet Injuries A Physical Therapist Can Help With
Ballet dancers are more likely to suffer injuries on their lower extremities, from their hips down their legs, and especially with their feet and their ankles. They can also suffer injuries on the upper half of their body, of course, but injuries on the lower half of their body are far more common.
This is especially true because while instructors should wait until a dancer reaches skeletal maturity before recommending that they go en pointe, many dancers start en pointe when they’re very young. This can lead to an increased risk of foot and ankle injuries. Getting your first pair of pointe shoes is one of the most exciting things to happen to a ballet dancer, but instructors must be careful to ensure that the dancer is ready before allowing them to go en pointe.
Some of the most common ballet injuries that physical therapists treat include:
- Ankle sprains
- Trigger toe
- Stress fractures
- Hip impingement
- Snapping hip syndrome
- Labral tears
- And much, much more
Generally, ballet injuries tend to result from overuse. Dancers, especially those on a pre-professional track or who are professionals, dance for hours on end up to 6 days a week. Poor nutrition is unfortunately very common in ballet, as dancers strive for the “ideal” ballet body, which can increase risk of injury.
Not only can a physical therapist help you with a ballet injury, they can also educate you on what you can do in order to prevent future injuries.
Signs You Should Look For A Physical Therapist
Ballet can be painful, which dancers are well aware of, especially when it comes to dancing en pointe. As such, it can be challenging for dancers to know when it’s time to look for a physical therapist.
Some of the signs that you should seek out medical treatment and physical therapy include:
- Persistent pain
- Pain that increases as you do an activity
- Pain that makes you alter your movements
- Pain that interferes with your daily activities
Ignoring pain can lead to long-lasting damage. No one wants this!
Wasatch Peak Physical Therapy is here to help you with your physical therapy needs. We’re experienced in treating all kinds of injuries and working with athletes. Whether you have a foot and ankle injury, a hip injury, or something else, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about our physical therapy services.