Well, if it isn’t one thing, it’s another. Injury, pain, something new very often, the more intensely you study or work in ballet. The question is, do you rest with every injury or pain that your child reports to you. For example, one month ago, while landing from a pirouette, and extending her foot in the back, the foot slipped, causing the weight to lean toward the outer side of the foot abruptly. This was a very minor sprain which hurt pretty badly and resulted in the rest of the week OFF. The next week, it was aching hips from stretching. The following week she tripped over her brothers suddenly extended leg and went down at a 90 degree ankle right on the kneecap-hard floor. Last night she said she must have tendonitis because her achilles tendon hurt on point. I was half asleep and dreamed about dancing, sudden and crippling injuries, with these thoughts pooling in my brain. I woke up two hours too early after having slept poorly. Think, think, think. Well, these are just the medium complaints a parent hears, aside from terrible colds, bleeding toes, painful hamstrings and other muscles, peeling feet, stinkfoot, bruised toe nails, falls, popping, back strains, not to mention the constant feeling by your child that perhaps one fall, one debilitating injury and they will not ever be able to dance again. Vitamins, diet, hair-down to which shampoos they cannot use because when they do their hair is too fluffy to put into a bun. It seems when everything is quiet, there is just no catastrophe.
We have had some of these before, and there are pains that last months and pains that last a few days. That is pretty much how you distinguish them. The antenna are meant to go up at the mention. How each dancer handles other pain is down to the dancer. Mine has thrown away her spacers, gel toe pads and other paraphernalia in order to develop calluses and keep a monitor on the changes. She discovered she could dance for certain time periods at one level of activity and another, shorter length of time with more strenuous point work, but pain is a thermometer in ballet. It is just a question of whether it is in the red zone or blue zone. The more experienced dancer knows-or thinks she does-the difference. Thankfully, they tell you just before you fall asleep that they have a possibly crippling condition. They are supposed to, right? Tell you, I mean….
All day, I had to think of a way to work up to say, “by the way, that achilles pain (tension you can cut with a knife emanating from her) you mentioned (casually), is that a sometimes pain, or a constant pain, of the first time (having forgotten about the one associated with point shoes)? “S-o-m-e-t-i-m-e-s…., well, yes.” (Trying not to be pregnant pause), “Well, when does it happen-during a particular exercise? When you go on point, or in other exercises?” “When I am on point-once….” and when I point.” Suddenly “When did it start? You mean you did not tell me the first time?!” “Mom, it just happened once, last night!!!!” (Phew). “How bad was it?” “I don’t know, it just hurt when I went on point.” “I think it is your shoes!” “Me, too.” Truth? I can only guess.
Background and some further research rearding
“You have to strengthen.” “That’s what makes it hurt.” “What?” “When I point and flex-that is what makes it hurt.” “You cannot dance anymore if you have tendonitis-that is serious. You have to rest the tendon, you do not want to make it worse or chronic.” How can I strengthen it if that is when it hurts????” “Do rotations and improve your releve.” “I do. I shouldn’t have told you.”
Information on different kinds of achilles tendon pain can be found here:
I tell you because I cannot tell my daughter. Today I think every year of her age a brick is placed in that wall between us. She would be mortified if she knew that I discussed this openly with anyone-even a stranger. But she “should not have told” me!!!! What can she be feeling or thinking that she would not tell her best friend. And me-not wanting to pry, leaving her be, let her alone to learn, to cry, because she wants to be a ballet dancer. Should we let them? Is it cruel? When is it time to let go? Now? So young. Dancing is supposed to be a happy thing. How sadistic are we that we let them dance, to be an icon of self-victimization? Is it really that rewarding and addictive????Yes.
Some more information, and some good exercises, can be found here:
Click to access achilles_tendon_pain.pdf