Tag Archives: Medical Advice

Part 2-Winning The Fight Against Fat; The Emergent Sylph

You have been dancing now for several weeks, after a long break, and you are not happy with yourself yet. Although you have developed better eating habits, hardly have time to eat some days, and even though you are definitely losing weight, and developing muscle, you are not exactly where you would like to be, there is still some fat around your hips and on your legs. A few pounds are gone, hopefully, if you have been sticking to your diet-which you have, and you haven’t! Do not rest for the worst of Winter is yet to come. It is most important to stay healthy. If you had listened to me and drank your lemon and honey teas, you might not have gotten sick! And how can you take your vitamins if you are out of them?? You might even look extremely thin on the upper body and face, but below there are still areas you need to address. They are improving, but you cannot quit working on them. Pretty soon, if you stick with it Be happy!!!!You are w they will be perfect and you can be proud.

adonis thighsI thought I would post this picture because you would look very cute in these warmups and because when you Google “Adonis thighs” some pretty weird pictures come up. 🙂

You are well on your way to not only succeeding in your dieting plans for life, you are becoming a healthier eater, better and stronger person. One thing I notice is that like smoking, after a break of being really good, and not smoking, or a trauma (like your teacher yelling at you), we run back to our carbs for comfort. Like ice cream, bread, cookies, muffins, candy, anything we have been depriving ourselves of which we think is not really bad for us in small quantities. But after we have sated ourselves, then we feel guilty, or worse, we have started smoking again! It is not the weight, we can lose that again. It is the self-confidence and the discipline, which we have believed ourselves capable of that we undermine. It is important for your psyche in ballet, to believe in yourself, to be disciplined, and that takes training, too! If you discipline yourself to do something or to not do something, you take pride, and then it is not a job, but a purer way of life. A temple for your inner sanctum, where you can go and revel in the fact that you are you, not a cave where you dart and hide, hoarding goodies for when you feel bad or want to let down. Look at those foods that provided a minute’s solace. Did they really? Were they good tasting? Were they healthy? Were they worth it? Think about it.

Think about eating half a la a partridge in a pear tree- A giant vat of spinach, 10-12 medium-sized shrimp, 2  and one-half shiny red bell peppers, 2 and one-half small potatoes, a small plate of popcorn, A large handful of chickpeas, a small handful of raisins, a two-finger wide slice of salmon (maybe one-and-a half finger wide), one-half of a blueberry muffin, and a teaspoon of peanut or other nut butter. These are snack portions of these items-as part of a meal they are roughly the same size (for a dancer), but you can eat other things with them. The potatoes are raw, by the way, and not on your diet at all, yet. Except on cheat days and if every day is a cheat day, you do not get a cheat day! Nag, nag, nag. No, really, you don’t. If you don’t want to listen to me, try this app-it’s free for 7 days-a virtual nutritionist. She can support you in your weight loss endeavors, very nicely, if you don’t cheat, and suggest better food choices, or alternatives that are healthy!


But if you are eating things like this, and they satisfy you, then you already know that 1) your stomach is not that big, and 2) they provide you with energy and other vitamins and minerals you need-that is why they satisfy you. Let them. Learn from them. See what that can do before you tear off a big chunk of crusty bread and chow down. Try eating snack-sized portions of these tempting tasties instead of eating a whole one, a cup or a bowl, or a big plate of food. Try smaller portions, a smaller plate. If necessary, carry your plate around with you and fill it up instead. You know you cannot go over if you use a measure. And don’t say, pile it up. You can make a bigger pile of veggies or protein, slightly. This is a cute write-up of Holiday food portion sizes. Don’t know-take a look!


Gradually, you are building up your stamina so that instead of being exhausted on Thursday,you are exhausted on Friday. You are not only doing some things right, and you must continue your good progress, you are better able to see where your failings are occurring and you may now begin to consider what those are and how to address and change them. One, you are trying to give yourself energy to compete in a very highly demanding profession of dancing. it is a long journey. probably, you are still not giving your body adequate replacement of minerals and electrolytes lost. You may not be drinking enough water. If you are run down and getting sick then you need to work on this but continue to lose weight and build lean muscle. Maybe you have inflammation from dancing the Nutcracker, preparing for competitions or doing an entire season on your tippy toes- here are 10 foods that fight inflammation:


Also water and Turmeric.

Soon, you will face the onset of winter, you will need to heal and get adequate rest especially and as well as Nutcracker and auditions, you will be preparing for competitions (possibly), travel (maybe), and the stress from academic if not ballet exams and the deep deep winter months which will limit your other activity (possibly). You will have to face of and confront the holiday issues. I start by watching Bridgette Jones once and then the second part and then move on to Holiday and other chick flicks, because no where else will you actually see Renee Zellweger being eaten by Alsatians and scraping the mold off of cheese to prepare you for winter and the fact that you will not actually starve or freeze to death, but you may very well catch cold.  So let’s consider that while you are on this fabulous plan to have a plan, you do not actually have one yet. let’s look at nutritious Fall and Winter foods and produce and try to find sustenance in pictures and produce departments-not necessarily more meat, but complete proteins are essential.  Meat free meals can be less expensive, lower in calories, etc….A complete protein refers to proteins which contain ALL of the amino acids, but nine of them cannot be produced by the body alone, so vegetarians have to go an extra mile to get them without eating meat. These nine are called (not the ring bearers) the essential amino acids, as “it is essential for you to get them.” Meat and eggs are complete, beans and nuts are not. Humans do not need every essential amino acid in every mouthful or at every meal but we do need most of them everyday. Most dieticians believe that plant-based diets can provide enough. Here are some excellent recipes and foods which provide not only vegetarians, but also dancers with tasty food choices and plenty of protein. Try eating one plant-based meal one day per week and see if you notice raised energy (or feeling better levels) if you are a staunch meat-eater and need those amino acids every day. Notice most of these meals provide adequate, though not off the charts amounts of protein and you are looking for a plan that provides roughly 10 grams per meal or 1 gram for every pound of (actual) weight of your body per day. http://greatist.com/health/complete-vegetarian-proteins

A list of healthy go-to dinners is given here-not all of these will follow your diet exactly, but you can use alternative ingredients that you have on hand and they almost all work as a lunch!


Top foods in your diet should include:

Quinoa- (I like it mixed with lentils, a bit of tomato and chicken broth). It’s full of dancer needed vitamins and you can use it in baking, too; buckwheat. is not wheat at all, but in the rhubarb family.

Soba- (i.e noodlers) You can have it in pancakes, or like a cereal as in grits. It is very healthy, has antioxidant properties, may improve circulation and helps control blood glucose levels (helps you burn fat);

Hempseed- (contains significant amounts of all nine amino acids in question) may help to stave off the common cold and boost your immune system. It is also a rare source of essential fatty acids including omega-3s, which can help fight the winter blues. Hemp is popular in baking and cooking recipes;

Chia-add some to your diet or try making chia “gel” which can replace eggs in baking (!), and is delicious as a homemade refrigerator jam with blueberries and agave syrup-look it up. Chia doesn’t have a lot of protein per serving and you cannot or should not over indulge as it contains very high levels of phosphorus (good and bad) but it is the highest source of omega-3s and is full of trace minerals as well as antioxidants. Puddings, smoothies and a few in your favorite fruit beverage or juiced drink won’t hurt. They also look pretty on baked dishes as an accent like wheat germ and absorb liquid very quickly;

Soy- Not for everyone but is absolutely chocked full of protein no matter the type and 1/2 cup remains the typical serving. For protein choose the firmest tofu available.

I am leaving out Quorn as a lot of people are allergic to it-its a bit like a mushroom the way they grow it, and also Cricket Flour (as it is just gross); Rice and Beans, everyone knows about already, but does have a protein content on a par with meat and is very healthy and good to eat;

Ezekial 4:9 bread- and you can make your own! It contains all the amino acids and a lot of vegetarians swear by it. All bread should contain sprouted grains anyway, and trader Joe’s has plenty of those for less money than Whole Foods, though i am not dissing whole foods. They are awfully affordable on their sale goods, dairy and grass fed beef. Ezekial bread has 21 grams of protein and it is already complete so two slices is a serving (at breakfast/lunch).

Wheat gluten- gets demonized by a lot of people these days, but with the obvious exceptions of celiac-sufferers and the gluten intolerant, it’s nothing to be afraid of. In fact, I have read that it is not necessarily to avoid gluten IF YOU ARE NOT ALLERGIC TO IT-

First created more than a thousand years ago as a meat substitute for Chinese Buddhist monks, Seitan is made by mixing gluten (the protein in wheat) with herbs and spices, hydrating it with water or stock, and simmering it in broth. But this one’s not complete on it’s own—it needs to be cooked in a soy sauce-rich broth to add gluten’s missing amino acid (lysine) to the chewy, very meat-like final product.

I like stores that make shopping interactive and fun while educating me about good nutrition options (at a fair price) and that is why God made Trader Joe’s. http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/shopping-list.asp  He loves their shopping list feature as much as I do and most towns or areas now have one. If you had to, you could eat there entirely and still pay rent and afford coffee. You can send this list along with your shopper, email it, or use it for other things and it prints out, but you can also access it with your phone. Most health food stores have a newsletter and they are usually chock full of interesting information. I include 4:

Sunspot http://www.thesunspotnatural.net/forum/images/ranks/1014%20Sunspot.pdf

Fresh Thyme/Sprouts/Henrys (their website also boasts a resource health page and a shopping list!)  https://www.sprouts.com/web/guest/deals-of-the-month

Whole foods (too much on their website to list) http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/about-our-products/whole-deal

Balducci’s-it’s not strictly a health food store but the food is ridiculously good and healthy! (primarily a source for recipes and general food info) http://www.balduccis.com/recipes

Chances are you are depleting some of your fat reserves if you have been eating better. You might have an injury of you do not eat properly. What is beginning to happen at this time of year (with everyone) is common and your body is using up its usual reserves of various stores (winter, and yes, we do!) of nutrients. You are not drinking enough water. You are not eating the right things but you are eating a lot of calories, leaving you feeling hungry within hours of eating a big meal again. You are eating late at night and rushing out before having a good breakfast. You take whatever is available for lunches and snacks. You take a vitamin. You are not thinking about food-who has time? Let alone think about it, who has time to prepare it all? It is very important now to reread that first article and take stock of your habits. Cutting out the bad ones now will help you through the winter to the Spring, when people typically want to see the results of dieting and good health, but Winter is not conducive to it. We are not only going to survive Winter, we are going to give our bodies plenty of nutrients all winter long, and enough food!

Follow the clean eating concepts http://atthebarre.net/9-clean-eating-principles-for-a-ballerinas-diet/    which we discussed before to remind yourself that you are not eating processed foods. Without counting calories, this is one of the best methods of learning to eat healthy. Stable and proven, but will not exactly cause weight loss or the creation of lean muscle.


Great Fall and Winter foods (by design) give us the added vitamins and minerals to fight off sickness-some are : Pumpkin seeds (full of zinc); Tuna (helps protect cells from free-radical damage and boosts your immunity); Mushrooms (packed with beta glucans, which help the body fight infection); Sweet potatoes -now that you have lost your weight!-or substitute your weekly jacket potato for one of these (rich in vitamin A, which fights free radicals that could weaken your immune system); Green tea (hot cup of green tea has amazing antioxidant benefits); Greek yogurt -just cannot beat it for probiotic properties (found in yogurt and other naturally fermented foods, help maintain a healthy and strong immune system). And these are just a few that you should include in your Fall and Winter diets regularly to help build a stronger dancer and to enlist their super power strength and immune system building properties.

I have noticed that when a professional dancer is asked about her diet, she states she “eats whatever she wants.” I think this is largely hype, perpetuating the myth that she is just perfect and everyone wants to continue to be like her. Also, it cuts off the dreary conversation of weight control and refocuses on her perfectionism. But partly it’s true. Once you learn to eat right, you are likely not going to have to calorie count again. Eating right and good eating habits become habit, just like anything else. There is also always something they tell us is bad for us, then they come out with conflicting evidence that it is also good for us, hence variety is the spice of life, I think. Variety in diet also provides different sources of nutrients. Dancers who subsist on a diet of anything, are going to pay some price down the road. Also, as there should be some reward, everything in moderation, is a better motto than “I never eat_____,” unless ______is unpalatable to you, there is almost nothing you cannot eat in moderation. That should stop people who think they are going to have to cut out their favorite foods for life. I once had a NY-based voice coach who was an older Austrian man, of small stature and he said in order to watch his figure he dieted during the week, but on Sundays he ate whatever he wanted. I used this approach to maintaining a weight and found it largely successful as long as you did not overeat those things. The point is, food, and the kind you like, is always going to be readily available and believe me, after years of food experience, you do not run out of opportunities to eat. So what is good in foods for the Fall?

Some choices are obvious, but others less so, or less appetizing until you find recipes or have them prepared in ways that are appealing. A book I do like is Keri Gans, R.D., author of  The Small Change Diet

Apples- apple picking season is upon us, as are other crops, hugely of value to dancers eating to work hard and stay healthy. They are good innumerable ways (perhaps the most widely reciped of all fruits) this is their season and apples picked now will last you all winter if not mixed among the bad. They are full of vitamin C. They are also full of natural pectin which helps the cardio vascular system. Apples with peanut butter are delicious though not the highest source of protein, they are a healthy snack. Baked, in yogurt, or first thing of the day, they help fight colds.

Pumpkin- is a prime source of vitamin A, which improves your vision, but it is also loaded with phytosterols, which decrease bad cholesterol, and are one of the most obvious beta-carotene (besides carrots), which help protect against free radicals which can lower your immune system. Trending now are hot and cold pumpkin drinks, smoothies and pumpkin smoothies. Stock up now and make your own pumpkin seeds, but it is also as nutritious canned. Explore the wide range of non-dessert uses of pumpkin and its seeds, it’s interesting and informative, as well as potentially delicious. No one has more knowledge of pumpkins than pumpkin growers https://www.google.com/search?q=pumpkin+growers+association&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb

Brussel Sprouts-brussel sprouts are a very good source of iron, which helps your body form red blood cells, and vitamin K, which can improve bone health. The mini cabbages just taste healthy but this would belie the fact that they are chocked full of  vitamin C, for your immune system. Moe than one source of vitamin C daily is proven to assist in building immunity in cancer patients. Here are six quick and easy ways to eat Brussels sprouts and you can usually buy the trees at trader Joe’s (et al) right now as they are in season. I have frozen them before. 🙂

Figs-you do not have to eat solely bananas for potassium as figs contain a lot of it and more compact, therefore perfect for dance bags. This is an autumn fruit and anexcellent source of fiber, which helps decrease cholesterol, promote blood sugar control (lose fat), prevents constipation (!), AND keeps you feeling full longer. A win win win win. Figs are also packed with potassium, and that, as dancers know might make you feel a little less sore and exhausted, but did you know that it also helps control your blood pressure. Amazing little purdy fruit.

Cauliflower is getting a lot of positive attention lately as its white color deceives you into thinking it is a brain, but in reality this in-season veggie is just as nutritious as those dark leafy greens! Cauliflower is probably the top source of vitamins C and K, which helps to regulate your inflammatory response.Pay close attention professional dancers with chronic tendonitis! Rich in fiber and folate, which is crucial for any women thinking of conceiving since it helps prevent neural tube defects….in other words, it is one of those vegetable women are WISE to eat. It is one of those tricky little foods that picks up the flavors of those with it, so look no further than the Internet for loads of low fat recipes by which to transcend your previous knowledge and enjoyment of cauliflower. https://www.google.com/search?q=award+winning+cauliflower+recipes&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=sb

Though some people may forego BEETS, of all the root veggies, and veggies, this one alone is one dancers must find a way to eat. Why???? Weeeel, they contain a phytonutrient called betalains, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Beets are also a good source of folate, potassium, and manganese, which helps with calcium absorption and blood clotting. Dancers are hard pressed to find another source so rich in beetness, and dancers need betalains to HEAL. Coupled with some of the other items on this list, they are bound to assist you with possibly even recurring conditions you thought you might have to suffer through life with as a dancer. i will not provide any beet recipes here as it has to be totally your choice, but beets are best uness you can find a Nopal cactus, Beets are it. Somebody knows about this http://betalains.wordpress.com/  and look no further because it is betalains that give beets their color…..

Pear. At this time of year, it might be good to stock up on pears as you will not find them so abundant as now, and to because they contain vitamin C (another source), copper (which may help prevent against certain cancers), and boron, a nutrient that helps the body retain calcium, also good for Winter.

There are many myths about eating. I remember one girl in ballet class who decided she was going to live on popcorn. She ended up in the hospital. She was definitely slightly voluptuous, but she was not eating any nutrition and of course this did NOT help her dancing career and she gained back all the weight she lost anyway. Once she recovered, her family got her professional help. When sugar or carbohydrate intake is not enough to maintain a certain glucose level, the body must turn to its own muscle tissue and skeletal tissue to supply the needed glucose. fat cannot be converted to sugars primarily and we operate on a high level of glucose, especially our brains. No sugar, no you! The body is geared toward survival and once you begin to eat again, even a normal amount of food, the body starts repleting its fat stores, preparing for when you may possibly starve it again. Winter is nothing if not a great testament to the fact that we as humans, must survive, as we see foliage and natural things around us die off, we prevail. As dancing activity depends on glycogen stored in muscles for fuel, not many calories are burned so winter is especially tricky for dancers. Fat is not used for high-intensity workouts because it cannot be broken down fast enough. Most dancers have an abnormally low caloric intake, so they are undernourished, yet overweight and usually feel guilty. Muscle is denser than fat, so inch by inch it does weigh more, or looking at it differently, the smaller, leaner you, may not actually weigh less, so a combination of intake and exercise has to balance to lose weight and to build lean muscle, if weight is a consideration. Some dancers are thin and have no visible muscles. If you gain a few pounds over the winter don’t sweat the small stuff! Your body has tricks for survival and even though you are eating somewhat less, without dancing everyday, you may tend to gain a few pounds which by the Spring will fly away once normal activity is resumed. This might be a perfect time to polish the stationery bicycle or dust the elliptical or get on the treadmill, just to make sure your calories burned equal or are greater than ones consumed. 15-25 minutes per day to start, and building up to 45 by mid-November or December should get you through the winter, and though the temptation may be great, avoid alcohol and traditional holiday dinners, cookies and cakes, but not the preparation or festivities. Drink waters, have a coffee or tea instead of hot cocoa and remember to succomb to your cheat day allowance regularly so that you do not feel cheated.

Calories from fat, protein and carbohydrates must blend together for an optimal and well-balanced diet. Obviously for every individual these amounts of each are going to need to vary and do. There is no amount that is agreed upon by practitioners, actually. Dancers are observed to have fairly large intake of fat. Typically a normal person should consume protein 10-20%, carbs 55-65% and fat 20-30%. But depending on your dance regimen and level of activity that should vary and differ by person slightly or seemingly more than, but remember those guys have faster metabolisms anyway. You do not want to Fall backwards! Some professional dancers in major companies have had reported fat levels of up to 50%, and this is in part due to what some people consider protein-rich foods, including cheese and peanut butter, which is actually very high in fat. Dancers like sweets and they like pasta. Other starvation diets have had proven effects upon the psychology of individuals, resulting in obsessions with food, psychosis, and extra fat storage. It is very important, especially in cold weather not to deprive or starve your body-it will rebel! In all, there is a connection to eating and there are famous experiments proving that the best way to lose weight is not to starve yourself. If a body is deprived of food, it calls upon every physiological and psychological mechanism it has to cause itself to eat and gain weight. DO not feel guilty about not being smarter than your body. Listen to it, instead of fighting it or depriving it. Give it what it needs-food more often if necessary but smaller portions. Drink plenty of water. You might even want to add a glass or two during winter in addition to your 8 glasses per day, that is.

There are several published guidelines for dancers and they affect how you should approach healthy eating habits. They are:

1) Dancers must maintain olympic-like physical condition all the time so there is only one way to approach a dancing life and that is to begin to eat healthily and get used to it. Make it a way of life and engage yourself in it. Enjoy food-buying it, preparing it, and eating it. Make what you enjoy and do not depend on others to adhere to your own personal guidelines. They won’t. Letting others take control only guarantees you are not in control of what or how it is prepared. If it is a child, get them involved in the whole process. It should be a family plan and not a lone wolf plan because that will only leave them feeling deprived and left out. It may also result in other children feeling you are leaving them out or that you care about another child more. Food is fun!

2) Dancer see, dancer do. If one dancer sees a lot of other dancers eating ice cream, or living on one or two items, or eating Nutella or subsisting on peanut butter and they look okay, it is common for them to repeat this for themselves and omit variety and eat a lot of bad things, or things that simply do not provide them with all their nutrients and energy required. It is important to eat what you like, but also to eat a variety of different foods and from different food groups. No one food is going to provide you with what you need and will result in problems later. This is an act of desperation. Don’t follow, lead, or at least use your common sense: How can a diet consisting of only one thing and omitting lots of other types of foods be healthy? Dancers have to be smart!

3) In normal weight loss, the last 5-15 pounds is considered the hardest to lose. This is doubly hard for some dancers because to achieve the perfect ballet body, considerably more than pounds is at stake. It is your career, and despite dancers being underweight or at least not incredibly overweight, they need to lose the pounds and achieve the toned body look to be successful and aesthetically pleasing, whatever that may be for the day. This is very exhausting and stressful mentally and possibly physically.

4) Dancers are in the studio all the time so what time remains, particularly for teenagers, limits the activities for cross-training available or possible. Once you have trained your muscles to dance, is it alright to train them to do anything else, used to be the question, but dancers have proved that other aerobic activity, such as swimming, walking and running, builds stamina, is cardio and sheds weight, as well as strengthening other muscles, preventing injury, not contributing to it, but of course you have to be careful not to “bulk up.” Certain activities would be off-limits for dancers struggling with this problem naturally, but others activities would be fine. The eliptical is a common and available tool to increase energy expenditure without causing any particular stress or bulking up to the body, and it can be done in increments to either lose weight or to warm-up, or to build stamina. Swimming is also a good Winter sport for dancers. I know one dancer who laps in the pool once per week in the Summer and 3 x per week in the Winter. So consider your body type and experience in absorbing this as it matters in your approach.

5) The dancer must always consider her goals and balance what is good for her professionally and what is good for her health, development and future. The two do not always coincide and it is most important in adolescents and young adults not to sacrifice too much for ballet. DO not cut corners with nutrients in Winter. Your health and future health govern the length of your dancing career. It can be shortened by not attending to your overall health. Choices, choices, choices. Stay warm.

Consider body builders for a moment. Though the connection between dancers and bodybuilders is not hugely noticeable it is in certain regards and the study of it has led many researchers in sports nutrition to divide types of desired looks in sports by types of exercise, and while it is know that ballet benefits athletes, bodybuilders set out to achieve a certain look the same way dancers do and their short spurts of exercise also develop lean muscle, though their intention is usually to bulk up a little, some are very slim and attractive. What do they do differently? Well, it starts with nutrition.

The entire article detailing these meal plans for one week can be followed below, but keep in mind this plan is based on the consumption of calories consumed per day of about 13-15 per pound of weight. S0, if you seek to lose weight and not bulk up, then you would want your food intake to be slightly different, and of course containing fewer calories, but if you activity level is very high, you might want to eat more food, so that you don’t lose weight.

They feel that the 15 best lean-muscle building foods are:

1) Beef (from grass-fed cattle)-it contains high levels of protein, cholesterol, zinc, b vitamins and iron. Also, beef from grass-fed cattle contains much higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than conventionally raised beef, which gives you a boost in shedding body fat and building lean muscle. You are what they eat…..

2) Beets- contain a source of betaine, also known as trimethylglycine, and is a nutrient that enhances liver and joint repair, especially important for dancers, and also has been shown in research to increase strength and power. Dancers need those. They may enhance energy and aid recovery.

3) Brown rice-slowly digests and is a whole grain, giving you longer-lasting energy throughout the day and during actual workouts. It helps to increase your GH (growth hormone) levels, which are critical for encouraging lean muscle growth, fat loss and in gaining strength.

4) Oranges- eaten before a workout can boost lean muscle growth, strength and endurance.

5) Canteloupe- has a low fructose content and is one of the fruits that converts quickly meaning it is good to have in the morning and is one of the good fruits to eat after a workout.

6) Cottage Cheese (organic)-is rich in casein protein, an immediate protein source, and is especially good before bed. Casein protein is exceptionally slow digesting which means it prevents your muscles from being used as energy while you sleep.

7) Eggs- Known as the perfect protein, but their good for other reasons, including the yolks, where there is cholesterol. Egg cholesterol id proved to create lean muscle and decreases the bad cholesterol (LDL) particles associated with atherosclerosis.

8) Milk (organic)- ocntains about 70% more omega-3 fatty acids than normal milk and is rich in both casein protein and whey protein, as well as the amino acid glutamine.

9) Quinoa-besides being a complete protein and a slow digesting carb (like brown rice), it has been linked with (IGF-1), and insulin-like growth factor, associated with lean muscle and strength gain.

10) Wonka Pixy Stix- yes, contains dextrose, which requires no digestion, going straight to the bloodstream after a workout, for the fasted possible recovery, getting the carbs straight to your muscles.

11) Spinach-of course, you remember Pop-eye. Well, it is both a good source of glutamine, the amino acid responsible for lean muscle growth, and spinach can also assist muscle strength and endurance.

12) Apples-An apple contains Polyphenols which helps to increase muscle strength and prevent fatigue, allowing you to train harder and longer. They have fat-burning qualities as well and they are a good pre-workout carb source.

13) Greek Yogurt-and this is on just about everyone’s list. It comes from milk, but contains more protein (20 g per cup) and fewer carbs (9 g per cup) than regular yogurt, which contains, on the average 16g or protein and 16 g of carbs per cup. That minute difference can mean less-lean muscle over time or taking longer to get it. Also, we are talking about plain Greek yogurt (with apples) and not the preserve-ridden kind popular even in health food stores. And, it is also a good source of casein protein.
14) Ezekial 4:9 Bread-made from organic sprouted whole grains, it contains grains and legumes, is a complete protein-which means it contains all nine of the amino acids your body can’t produce on its own, and these are the needed ones for muscle growth. It is kind of like eating the whole peanut, and the little tiny nut inside, because that is where the protein is! But, it’s bread.

15) Wheat Germ-that old standby is still a top source of zinc, iron, selenium, potassium, B vitamins, is high in fiber and protein and also has a goodly amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) arginine and glutamine. It is not only a great source of slow-digesting carbs but is also a good quality protein that is great before workouts.


A Guide to Eating for Lean Muscle for one-week. Other plans can be purchased at the link below or spliced together from accumulated sources.

It states: “The following plan is designed for a woman weighing 140 pounds. When trying to gain lean muscle during a rigorous exercise program, a good rule of thumb is to shoot for an intake of about 13-15 calories per pound of bodyweight. So for a 110-pound woman, total daily calories would be between 1,430 to 1,650; for a 150-pound woman, about 1,950 to 2,250.” It notes additional supplements suggested for workout days.


Breakfast 1:
  • whey protein whey protein

    1 scoop

  • cantaloupe cantaloupe

    1/2 small/medium

Breakfast 2: (30-60 min after B1)
Late-Morning Snack:
Midday Snack:
Nighttime Snack:
  • cottage cheese 1/2 cup
    Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size 1/2 cup (110g)
    Servings Per Container 4
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 100 Calories from Fat 20
    Total Fat 2g 3%
    Saturated Fat 1.5g 8%
    Trans Fat 0g  
    Cholesterol 10mg 3%
    Sodium 450mg 19%
    Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
    Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
    Sugars 3g  
    Protein 15g  
    Vitamin A 4% • Vitamin C 0%
    Calcium 8% • Iron 0%

  • salsa salsa

    2 tbsp (Mix salsa in cottage cheese if you want)

Nutrition Facts and totals for the Day/Amount per serving
Calories 1,675
Total Fat64 g
Total Carbs133 g
Protein178 g
Note: From our previous discussion this does not match a typical or normal dancer diet. It is highest in carbs, but higher in protein than fat. They are flip-flopped. It repeats the cottage cheese, peanut butter and whey and casein proteins for building bulk and muscle. This would lead to a leaner muscle composition, and the excessive carbs and protein would increase muscle tissue and size. This is conventional for a body builder, but slightly different than a professional dancer would want. But you can see how to vary the diet slightly and how it would be appropriate for a dancer. This are all foods a dancer can and should have, but if not extremely active, they would be slightly too much, especially the late night snack. Dancers typically stop eating around 6 (or they are advised to). They can also eat more good carbs, but fewer breads and less rice and grains. A male dancer might find this diet composition good, a female would probably want to slightly increase her fat and decrease, ever so slightly, her carbs and protein unless she is extremely active everyday, say during a performance regimen. The calorie content, or serving size is also based on the 140 pound weight of a women and not a dancer’s lighter weight. But to convert fat to muscle, this is a good lean diet for one day. It takes a large amount of protein to build muscle, more than most people want, and it can lead to muscle size increase, so most professional dancers would omit the whey protein and perhaps reduce one serving of meat or other source of protein such as the extra cottage cheese. As you can see, it is a lot of food, especially protein. See other days below.



Breakfast 1:
  • whey protein whey protein

    1 scoop

  • orange orange

    1 large

Breakfast 2:
Late-Morning Snack:
  • whey protein whey protein (could sub Greek yogurt ta this time of day)

    1 scoop

  • wheat germ wheat germ

    1/2 cup (Mix wheat germ in whey shake)

Midday Snack:
Nighttime Snack:
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day/Amount per serving
Calories 1,870
Total Fat60 g
Total Carbs145 g
Protein190 g



Breakfast 1:
Breakfast 2:
Late-Morning Snack:
  • stir fry Stir-fry B Recipe
Midday Snack:
Nighttime Snack:
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day/Amount per serving
Calories 1,900
Total Fat55 g
Total Carbs160 g
Protein180 g



Breakfast 1:
Breakfast 2:
Late-Morning Snack:
Midday Snack:
Nighttime Snack:
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day /Amount per serving
Calories 1,850
Total Fat75 g
Total Carbs130 g
Protein165 g



Breakfast 1:
  • whey protein whey protein

    1 scoop

  • apple apple


Breakfast 2:
Late-Morning Snack:
  • whey protein whey protein

    1 scoop

  • wheat germ wheat germ

    1/2 cup (Mix wheat germ in whey shake)

Midday Snack:
Nighttime Snack:
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day/Amount per serving
Calories 1,915
Total Fat65 g
Total Carbs145 g
Protein195 g



Breakfast 1:
  • whey protein whey protein

    1 scoop

  • orange orange

    1 large

Breakfast 2:
Late-Morning Snack:
Midday Snack:
  • spaghetti Spaghetti and Meatballs C
Nighttime Snack:
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day/Amount per serving
Calories 2,000
Total Fat70 g
Total Carbs170 g
Protein180 g


Sunday (High Carb “Cheat” Day)

Breakfast 1:
Breakfast 2:
  • breakfast sandwich Breakfast Sandwich D
Late-Morning Snack:
Midday Snack:
Dinner: Cheat Meal
Nighttime Snack
Nutrition Facts/Totals for the day/Amount per serving
Calories 2,500
Total Fat75 g
Total Carbs255 g
Protein160 g

Note: Cheat Day for dancers is Sunday or ONE DAY and not two and the recipes are provided below-

The Recipes

Recipe A: Frittata

  1. In frying pan on medium heat, cook onions for about five minutes with fat-free cooking spray; add broccoli and cook for about five minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix eggs, and cottage cheese and add to pan, lift and rotate pan so that eggs are evenly distributed; as eggs set around the edges, lift to allow uncooked portions to flow underneath.
  3. Turn heat to low, cover the pan and cook until top is set.
  4. Invert onto a plate.

Frittata A Recipe PDF (12 KB)

Recipe B: Stir-fry

  1. In a pan over medium heat cook shrimp in nonfat cooking spray, add boiled rice and vegetables, add scrambled egg and soy sauce if desired.
  2. Cook for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir-fry B Recipe PDF (54 KB)

Recipe C: Spaghetti and Meatballs

  1. Mix desired spices with ground turkey and roll into balls; add desired spices to sauce and cook meatballs in sauce until done.
  2. Cook spaghetti squash in a shallow baking pan with ½ inch of water in pan at 350 degrees in oven until tender. Scrape out spaghetti squash with fork to make spaghetti strings.
  3. Top spaghetti squash with meatballs and sauce, and spinach and top with ricotta.

Spaghetti and Meatballs C Recipe PDF (12 KB)

Recipe D: Breakfast Sandwich

Recipe D: Breakfast Sandwich

  • 1 large whole egg
  • 1 slice reduced-fat American cheese
  • 2 slices low-fat deli ham
  • 1 whole-wheat English muffin
  1. Make breakfast sandwich: toast muffin; fry ham in pan and place on one half of muffin.
  2. Fry egg in pan using nonstick cooking spray and place on ham; top egg with cheese and cover with other muffin half to make breakfast sandwich.

Breakfast Sandwich D Recipe PDF (12 KB)

See the entire article here:
Nutrition 101 Main Page

My feelings about this meal plan is that it is too high in protein and calories for most dancers working from a significantly smaller frame. But it contains a lot of foods and gives examples of healthy ones which help to develop lean muscle, build strength, provide energy and reduce fatigue and aid in recovery. A lot of small meals is also ideal for dancers because of their class length and activity level, and of course they need many of the same slow-working carbs and protein, but not in necessarily such great amounts or number of servings per day. Much smaller, and somewhat servings and nothing after 6:30 would probably do the trick. But there are tremendous differences between a bodybuilder and a female dancer visually at least. She would not want to bulk up this way and as you can see by the type and number of proteins and powders, average weight speculated upon, that is what it takes to create and maintain a powerful looking frame. The minute this diet changes at all, so does the composition, these results begin to fade and muscle loss increases and bulk decreases, so you remember how people look when they deflate from bodybuilding. That’s the general idea here, too and as we stated a dancer trains everyday and needs a diet that can be flexible enough for time off, but also increased for heavy performance periods and longer workouts. And they don’t mention it here, but a lot of yogurt and cottage cheese makes you fat! These are all extremely healthy food choices for dancers, though and for the same reasons (nearly).


Turn-out, Injuries, Hips, Knees and Feet: The importance of not overtraining, crosstraining, and specifically strengthening the opposing sides….

Margaret Barr's "Strange Children" [...
Margaret Barr’s “Strange Children” [ballet], 1955 / photographer unknown (Photo credit: State Library of New South Wales collection)

Dancers are strange children. For what other persons would set out to achieve the impossible, inch by inch, seeking a kind of perfection and freedom which allows them to communicate to others more artfully, those existing ballets created for bodies conditioned for performing these unbelievable and frequently imperceptibly impossibly difficult steps and combinations of steps? To the untrained eye, this intentionally looks easier than it is. But as they attempt to achieve more and more of the masterpiece that remains in the dancer‘s brain, only the very successful are considered to be so, and no one but a consummate artist can detect many of the imperfections and flaws contained therein. Certainly, no one but ballet dancers understand this, or stand united on the subject. Modern dancers detest it. The public doesn’t get it. And the trick is after all of that, dancers are forbidden to let you see their hard work. It is truly an art only really appreciated, deeply, by the best. And only they can criticize it, develop it, or lay at our feet the secrets of it. For most dancers themselves, you will find, find it difficult, if not impossible to explain, not all of it, anyway. They try. Misogynists or mystics?

jose limon

That photo is of Jose Limon. Sometimes, my thinking (and writing) delves into deeper, or more technical, areas where I am not an expert, but have concerns on the subject. Problems and experiences we have had may help to serve other people similarly facing such issues. That is by no means stating that I am, or have become, and expert on the subjects noted. It is very possible that I am wrong in stating some things, but I am thinking it out as I go-is there any other way? It is merely a line of thinking that I have found, or measures, which may prove to be, helpful to others. So I think, in this instance, I will share this. My daughter, has for some time been dancing and she is a hard worker. Because she started later, and had to learn so much to be caught up and prepared for her age level of dancing, she has traversed, in instances, very quickly, the long-practiced maneuvers, steps and poses of other ballet students, who frequently do not understand WHY they do things, or WHAT they are doing, but they do it everyday. So this is good for them, too. In addition to speeding up her practicum to achieve her dancer-sylph, she had had to work on her various short-comings.

All dancers have them. Each one, each area of the body needs to be fit, balanced and prepared for the hard work to come. getting to that point is obviously frustrating for even the best dancers (and the keeping it of it is also a repeated task). All dancers find they have some shortcomings. As the years, or levels, pile up, the dancing becomes more difficult, requiring the basic ability to execute various steps, and combinations correctly, and then more ability, and ultimately-perfection. But even at the preliminary stages when working, quickly, or more rapidly than they are accustomed to, and throughout your dancing career-however long that may be-foundation is forgotten in the moment of dancing, and you just dance as fast or as well as you can. It would admittedly be, a very tedious process,  if one had to stop every minute or so, and correct oneself, be corrected, or think about it, but that is what needs to be done, and what should be done, but it is NOT what is done beyond the basic level for many dancers. This is how most injuries occur.

Over-training is another common way to injure oneself. In order to become better, faster, it is very easy to get hurt and when you add on to that any other frailties, anatomical differences, technical abilities or shortcomings, it is a recipe for injury of some kind, all kinds, and we are finding-most kinds. One injury, when working at so high a level of training, can spiral outward, on the mend, with less than active (not as active) muscles, and result in consequential injuries, either to the first, or new. You almost can’t stop, but then you HAVE to. Most injuries will get worse if you continue to dance on them making the recovery time inevitably  longer and the possible injury itself-worse. My daughter’s injuries nearly all fall into this category, for nothing is essentially wrong with her-thank God. She is not deformed, has straight legs and only some hyperextension issues, which believe it or not is becoming more noticable with stretching and straining to become a ballerina. When anything is overstretched, it is a problem. Always.

She will have to watch out for these and many other injuries in the future, but for starters, these have been enough. In a nutshell, too soft pointe shoes (little support) resulted in an achilles injury (and a failure to really work her feet to make them stronger). While taking it easy on that (for months) and stretching to become able to do higher poses, achieve more turn-out and better grand jetes, she torqued her knee (and after 21 performances of Nutcracker, or something very close to that). Mind said, “turn-out” in plie, and knee refused. Overtraining and fatigue, I thought immediately. Then, while recuperating from that (80%) is about all I could rein her in-she experienced a deep groin pain preventing her from turning out at all, for no apparent reason. Many days had I suspiciously eyed her laying on the floor in the butterfly position, and thought,”too passive”, but….I was right, and wrong.

The hip injury is getting better, but for many weeks she has not been able to do much (involving turn-out) that does not cause pain. Oddly developpes do not hurt, while a simple ronde a terre-does, and a tendu! Movement of the whole leg in the hip joint. The hip. I came up with this after much research and found that most hip injuries in other dancers are down to five and we did want to rule-out the femoral fracture (Harkness/NYU). Whew! But all of them which did mention a pain, were on the outside or front of the hip and not deep inside it. The bad ones were deep, but, we knew it was

HTC modded keyboard running on my Samsung
HTC modded keyboard running on my Samsung (Photo credit: DanieVDM)

getting better and was not related to hip popping, so that ruled out all the rest except the femoral fracture-common to dancers, and she did not feel it was broken (she would deny it if it was!). They are very easy to break actually and require surgery…. Movements to the side hurt more and above the hip line in front???  Only certain positions means certain ligaments or muscles. Sometimes you can feel warmth (none), notice swelling (Ibuprofen), but she didn’t and neither ice nor heat were particularly effective. A warm bath might help, but it did not.

All of these things should be noted, and a journal should be kept following injuries so you can remember the activity associated with it that causes (caused) pain. My dancer cannot always recall what she was doing when it happened, especially if it becomes worse after class-could have been anything! A doctor will ask. The more you know, the better diagnosis they can give. Dancers do not like to think about their injuries, let alone, keep a journal of them. Morbid, but effective. Tell them to try recording it on their phones. Most Android phones have this capability and the recordings will show up in S Memo (or in Apps) and Media-they can find that; it is very handy for the lazy speakers. I did not say “lazy dancers.” These notes record by voice, too. Tell them to tell their phone to “record a memo.”

Her second injury, to the knee, I felt sure was related to her turn-out issues. I did not expect it was a turn-in issue. But is is. She has a great turn-out, but a poor turn-in. The doctor confirmed this, and we also ruled out hip or foot problems-basically they are perfect for life. We are still learning about dancing. Too much turn-out (stretching) has resulted in two injuries from weak turn-in-specifically the adductors and the hip muscles. If one is over turned out, and the body has to suddenly transition to a turn-in, and does not react quickly and forcefully enough-the counter-muscle strains-the one that helps you control turn-in and turn-out. Over turned-out-funny. In stretching, most dancers fail to realize strengthening has to be done in equal amounts as stretching, of the same muscles, for support and control. Teachers do not explain this. At all. And apparently, not effectively, especially for young students who have short attention spans.

For anyone involved in the serious study of dance, no doubt, the discussion of turn-out has arisen in class. You probably know by now if you have good or perfect turn-out because you will have heard it from teachers. It’s the next thing down from “feet.” Remarkably, many successful dancers have notably deficient turn-out. It is the actual foundation of all classical ballet. It is stated by doctors that the ease at which it is obtained (sometimes) appears to be correlated with the age at which dancing is begun. In short, turn-out is relative to ballet, therefore, it will be stated by some that it should be learned early. It is and it is not. Let me re-state that many professional dancers turn in all the time-they fail to remember to turn-out. It is perhaps the conditioning of it, not physiologically, but mentally, that makes it more well-remembered by the earlier you start, but in fact, that has to do with memory and not actual ability to turn-out. There is also functional turn-out and structural turn-out. Even those very rare students with “perfect (structural) turn-out,” turn-in (do not have good functional turn-out). It is not only one part of the hip that is actually responsible for how much turn-out one has, and actual deformity-again, popular in ballet (only), does occur, and is therefore deemed “perfect.” FURTHERMORE, it is just as important for dancers with this turn-out to remember, all the time, to turnout at the correct times-and they don’t! Children who do not want to work on turn-out are quick to notice this in professional dancers as “okay,” but it is not, necessarily. Everyone is different!

Perhaps they can exhibit better turn-out, which is nagged about in the studio, but face it, when they get on stage-they forget. Any dancer is only trying to remember 6,000 things on stage, and as you watch most of them, particularly soloists, you will notice they turn in, frequently, or you will notice that they do not exhibit their perfect turn-out, except when at the barre in first position or in plies, in second. Ligaments change, and dancers have to not only stretch to initially achieve turn-out, and exercises to strengthen it-do not stop at the barre (I’ll tell you why), but most dancers have to maintain their own degree of turn-out by stretching daily and remembering to reinforce turn-out in the studio and while dancing, all the time, for the rest of their lives.

As people get older, much older, all of their ligaments and muscles begin to deteriorate, so not exhibit the same elasticity as when they were younger, but dancers continue to dance, turned-out, or turned-in, and they continue to get nagged about it, until it is second nature, for the most part, for them to remember to turn-out or they get beyond the point professionally when any teachers complain about it anymore. That is one indication of a professional-not having to be taught anymore. It is up to the dancer to work on it, keep it and nurture it. Holding turn-out is how you refer to it in class and that is exactly what it means. Therefore, it is not the degree of turn-out which is extremely important in all dancers, but their ability to control it; that requires strength! And the lack of control causes injuries. Wait and see or get on it now, to prevent  injuries.

Dancers with perfect turn-out also turn-in, because of strength issues-not just memory loss or forgetfulness. It is the body’s natural inclination to do so, and the mind of a dancer must think about so many other things, occasionally (LOL), that sometimes it can just go-that is why you train to control it, so it goes where you want it to, and how far you want it to.

There are many exercises in ballet, poses in variations, and most importantly, but never mentioned,transitions in classical ballet, which cannot be accomplished without injury to a dancer who does not possess adequate turn-out to do them. Perhaps more importantly, not turning-out first and then failing to hold the required degree of turn-out can be dangerous if not life threatening, then dance threatening (and this is the worse of the two-for dancers!). This is anatomy and physiology, and fact. It is fairly safe to say, then, and I do, that all dancers turn-out excessively, whether good schools tell them to or not, they learn to, it is conditioned in other ways, even if teachers tell you they do not force turn-out. They teach turn out, refer to turn-out and yell, “TURN OUT,” and they have to if they teach Ballet.

English: First Position of the feet in Ballet
English: First Position of the feet in Ballet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Notice the “over turn-out” in first position? Slightly? What is too much for many persons is simply put, too much without control. I always releve (turned-out) in every position, just to check that my alignment is correct and that the right muscles are engaged, and that I can releve from that position. It is evident when doing this, if you feel awkward, or forced, that you are! Fix it-turn a little tiny bit in and gain control from that position before you open further. Practice making transitions and moving from these positions, think of variables, so that when the time comes, it is no sweat-you have done that before, and the body remembers it. Sometimes, I also attempt a plie from whatever position this happens to be, all of them, to make sure there is nothing wrong, to see what I can do, and to strengthen infrequently used muscles that may contribute to a better position in the end, by cautious means. What a lot of teachers mean by teaching turn-out young is that they can put dancers in over turned-out position and due to the laxity of the muscles at that age they do not readily see injury-that does not mean that it is not occurring, only that you can’t see it. Ask Mikhail Baryshnikov about his knees and forced turn-out and I am sure you will get an earful. I have found, over the years, that my habit, hard to instill or demand in others, fixes almost any turn-out problem, assures that I can execute the position(s) correctly (with the correct amount of turn-out), in transitions, or quickly, without hurting myself, and that after years of doing it, I have no issues or injuries! It’s like falling, with practice, you can learn to fall without injury, or with substantial reduction of injury. Falls happen-practice. After years of doing this, and I am much, much older than any of you reading this, it helps strengthen those muscles directly associated with each position, the best. How do you learn to surf? You surf. Is there exercise for learning to surf or be a better surfer? Yeah, surfing. How do you build up the muscles used in surfing? Surfing. Practice, practice, practice-not repeat, repeat, repeat! Also, holding these positions is easier after many repetitions, and many years. I have good balance from it in most ballet positions, and I haven’t really danced as hard as you are for 30 years! But I still do the exercises….

If, as a dancer, you attend a new class, and the teacher has you do something for which you are not physically prepared to do, you will fall out of it. That is the best sign, this muscle is not trained. Train it by doing the exercise over and over. Do not think to use the fail-safe quadriceps for anything except stability and pumping-force. The Amish say, there is always another way, and there is almost always another muscle that needs work when your quadriceps engage to protect you-they do not jump into action unless it is to protect you from a major tumble-from everything. The finer muscles responsible for controller finer movements-are ignoring you, not engaging, not working, because you haven’t trained them to listen. Most dancers think they have no faults, are not lazy, but mentally, there are things we just do not bother to do. We ALL do this. We also rely on routines and it is virtually impossible to do all of the exercises you need to do in one routine, so make list and rotate them-less chance for injury! It is hard, harder than 64 small jumps in center, all of them a foot or more off the ground, and then again, because it seems so easy we just take it for granted, but I bet you can do those jumps. Working and strengthening the finer muscles is hard, because these muscles are hard to find, hard to visualize, and they all work together at times, making the isolation of them very difficult to sort out, or the use of them fathomable. They are truly not as complicated as they seem, but you have to take the time and think about them, research them, practice using and finding them-or try to-and prevent injury.

Adequate turn-out for dancers is that degree of turn-out required for that dancer, based on his/her body structure, bone shape (especially the femur, acetabulum and pubis) which determine the range of movement of the hip, and also the ilio-femoral ligament, obturator externus (front-see picture below), and piriformus, gemellus inferior, obturator internus and externus (front), which in addition are responsible for the strength of the hip movements. Overstretching in the butterfly, for example, which virtually no teacher will tell you is harmful (“do it 3x a day!”), but it is. It is when you do not strengthen the hip, or stretch the hip sufficiently in the opposite direction. But enough is said about this to beginning or ambitious dancers who


must stretch to attain a better degree of turn-out and they need to be particularly watchful, especially if they are teenagers. No exercises are specifically given for it in ballet class. Repeated 2x per day, these stretching exercises can overstretch the adductors, resulting in serious groin pain in the student, usually deep in the tissue, where ice and heat may have little impact. Ibuprofen can help, but must not be relied upon for daily use. The pain can be so severe the dancer cannot turn-out-that is actually the key to the cause of this pain, for most other injuries to the hip result in different kinds of pain inside or outside the hip, but not affecting the turn-out per se.

Piriformis - Muscles of the Lower Extremity An...
Piriformis – Muscles of the Lower Extremity Anatomy Visual Atlas, page 8 (Photo credit: Rob Swatski)

From all of the material I have read about possible hip injuries, it is my own conclusion, and that of a venerable dance doctor, that without sufficient strength in the adductors, and overstretching present, a sudden twisting or turning can result in a straining of the muscles of the groin and on the inside of the upper thigh if they lack the tone to prevent overstretching. The pain in the upper thigh is frequently called “rider’s strain,” and is caused by too much stretch of the adductors when doing movement a la seconde (Dancer’s Book of Health, L. M. Vincent). It is said that some dancers, with ligament laxity, may even feel the thighbone “go out of joint.” This continual dislocating may lead to joint degeneration, so the importance of good muscle conditioning and avoidance of over stretching cannot be ignored! He says to “always seek control more than height”, and when warming up, do not risk strain by caving in to the temptation of placing the leg on the barre for the first stretch. Check with your dance teacher/physical therapist before performing these exercises to make sure they do not interfere with your goals.

Interestingly, students who feel that they do not possess enough turn-out can fall prey to this type of injury if their leg is inclined to drop “backward,” so they will often find that their turn-out is not lacking, but rather their ability to control it is. These types of exercises will help, but for specific muscle attention (there are six sets- count them- of muscles and ligaments responsible for turn-out, and a few other muscles besides) it would do to look up and verify which muscles to strengthen, what each set does, and the individual ones, and to go over where they are, when they are used and what to do to strengthen each one and each group, just to prevent injury and to be aware of this rather complicated area of the body, prone to injury in female dancers with a high level of ballet classes, training or just plain dancing. There are classes, sometimes, led by physical therapists (and dancers) to integrate whole body strengthening and conditioning to prevent injury in the different parts of the body that ballet dancers are susceptible to. These injuries are particularly a problem for adolescent students for growth and hormone reasons. Look no further than the Nureyev Foundation in Switzerland, to locate a dance doctor (a real one-not a quack) in your area, or a dance-trained physical therapist, who can help you discover more about your dancing body and its limits, as well as its possibilities!


Deep muscles of the medial femoral region.
Deep muscles of the medial femoral region. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Your hip adductors (left) are all responsible for moving your leg in toward the midline of your body–a movement called adduction. Located on the inside of your thigh, your adductors stretch from the inside of your knee to the bottom of your pelvis. Strong adductors are important in knee and hip stability, and if they become weakened, you may find your knees are prone to dropping outward. Additionally, performing exercises for your adductors will tone the area of your inner thigh. There are a variety of exercises you can perform for this important muscle group.
Medicine Ball Squats

Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place a light medicine ball or soccer ball between your knees. Keeping the ball in place by squeezing your knees together, squat until your knees are bent to 90 degrees and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push your hips forward and straighten your knees to stand up. Make sure that you concentrate on pushing your knees in against the ball throughout this exercise.

Lying Side Inner Thigh Lift
Lie on the floor on your left side with your body straight and your head resting on your outstretched left arm. Cross your right leg over your left and place your right foot on the floor, creating a figure-4 shape and allowing space to lift your lower leg. Raise your left leg inward by using your adductor muscles. Lift your foot 8 to 12 inches off the ground. Slowly lower your foot back to the floor and repeat before rolling over and changing sides. Make this exercise harder by wearing ankle weights-no more than 1 lb, and work up to that!

Hip Adductor Machine

Sit on the machine with the leg pads against your knees and your legs as far apart as comfortable. Press against the pads and push your legs together until the machine arms touch. Pause for one to two seconds before slowly returning to the starting position and repeating. This machine can strain your muscles if you are weak here, as most dancers are, it is advised to put it on its lowest setting and do no more than 12 reps the first several times, working up to three sets of 10 or twelve. Dancers also have to be careful not to bulk up-so many of these exercises have to be done in moderation, compared to general athletes, or those trying to get into shape. Dancers have a preferred shape, and need to remember to work the opposing side EQUALLY. In this case, that means, to put the pads on the outside of the leg and reverse the exercise. Most dancers will find it is easier to press the pads out (a no-brainer), than in. That is where you need work!

Lying Pillow Squeeze

This one is easy, so you will really feel “the pee” muscles working. My daughter hates it when I say this. Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor (also on the bed or while you are waiting for lights to change to green in the car-anywhere and from any position). Place a large pillow between your knees. Keeping your head on the floor and your arms by your side, press your knees together and squeeze the cushion as hard as you can for five seconds. Relax slightly, but keep the cushion in place. Push your knees together again and continue repeating for the desired number of repetitions. Only a few will be possible at first, so do not overdo it. It is more important to hold it for 5-10 seconds than to repeat it often. It is also more challenging. Work up!

Many dancers experience imbalance between the hip adductors or inner thighs and abductors, the hip and gluteus muscles. To counter this muscular imbalance, here is a stretch which needs to be held at least 30 seconds. Personally, I do not recommend “adjustments” like pulling the leg (performed by some over-zealous chiropractic offices, and  frequently, without any warning!).


1) On floor or mat, lie face up with arms extended at sides

2) Lift one leg straight up then bend knee and hip to 90 degrees flexion


1) Lower bent knee leg to opposite side toward hand.

2) Hold stretch for 30 seconds, maintaining 90° flexion in hip with both shoulders flat on the floor.

3) Repeat with opposite side.

For definition and reaffirmation:
Think that some dancers use the outer thigh more than they ought to, when it is the inner thigh which is typically responsible for turn-out.  Working the turn-out muscles require isolating them and using them-nothing else will work. The adductors are the frequently forgotten five muscles of the inner thigh that connect to the pelvis—the Pectineus, the Adductor Magnus, the Gracilis, the Adductor Brevis, and the Adductor Longus. Look those up and write down their meanings, then locate them in yourself and work on them. When a dancer has had an injury to the knee, for example, these muscles will have atrophied while the dancer was resting from the knee injury. The tendency for the dancer to resume the level of previous training that his/her body was accustomed to is presumed, since most dancers who have not had a previous injury will not be aware of or expect these initial limitations so they just jump right back into class “to get back to where I was”! Right? NO.WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!
Even a few days off, literally, can lead to some scary loss of muscle tone and requires s-l-o-w and steady passive and active stretching to get back to ground zero. I also recommend the warm-up exercises of Ballet for Dummies (Evelyn Cisneros is one of the authors-and certainly NO Dummie!) In it, they well discuss passive and active stretching and the importance of EACH for dancers. Too much passive stretching before dance class can also lead to injury in dance class. Best to do moderate exercises (warm up) before class, and stretching OUT after class, for up to 45 minutes.
Yoga and Pilates demand strong inner thigh muscles — fortunately, routine practice of both strengthens the inner thighs.The Pilates Reformer is also said to produce amazing results, but work with a trained professional. Don’t do any stretch to the point of discomfort and don’t force any stretch. Work up!
A good stretching program is key to maintaining muscular balance. Hip and adductor muscles are focused on in CORE workouts, but prior to this, which can result in overworking some muscles and under working others that dancers use, dancers had to rely on themselves to diagnose and usually fix what was wrong, and in good ballet classes, teachers address this, usually through modern dance techniques and other exercises. There are many modern dance exercises which I believe prevent any issues in these areas through dancing. On The Count of One and The Dancer Prepares give some really good advice, and there is no end of information available on the subject. You will not hear this through an orthopedic doctor, who relies on personal links with general physical therapists to practice exercises, get patients “back”, which might be good for octogenarians or football players, but are not fulfilling for a dancer beyond an early stage of injury recovery. Dancers demand more-faster.

Although some of the same muscles come into play with athletes and the general population, dancers refine their use, and rely on a good deal many more muscles than does a football player, and also work at a higher level of training each one for specific uses not understandable to most orthopedic doctors unless they are also dance professionals. A dancer also uses them a lot more and a lot more turn-out stretches, means a lot more and tougher turning-in exercises. My argument here is that most of these types of injuries are turn-in injuries, rather than turn-out injuries, actually. A good modern (basic, then intermediate) technique class-Graham or Horton is best and can also work absolute wonders to this balancing act; it can act as the antithesis to ballet, thus working all of the needed muscles in a dancer’s range, while being easy on the body, when exactly properly performed, and done at least four days per week for any significant results. Since this is not available or possible for all professional dancers (who do not have the time to become modern dancers), many of them rely on yoga. Yoga is everywhere and gets you in places nothing else does, but is not as active as modern, and not dancing.

The important points here are to listen to your own body, and do not readily accept the physical therapy or medical advice of a medical professional untrained in the dance profession. Dancers are different and require the patience themselves to identify areas of concern, underwork, overwork and injury. All bound together, usually. Any pain in executing any position might indicate the dancer is doing something wrong, and the sooner this is diagnosed and corrected, usually through re-teaching and strengthening the affected part, ASAP, the better. You might say that dancers are continually pushing the limits and need to train smartly. They hold their fate in their own hands and how they approach such injuries can be the end of one or most connected injuries as well, or the beginning of several more related ones. Therefore, it is important to sort it out, when you can’t dance it out.
Keep on Dancing!



Elizabeth Sullivan writes this post and it is very, very welcome for dancers who have virtually no (well-intentioned) advice for eating properly for ballet. Mothers are concerned that their dancers are eating enough of the right foods to prevent injury, replace what is lost while sweating, and with the concern of the body image in a healthy and pro-active way. I think Ms. Sullivan zealously tries to assist dancers in maintaining a positive body image while eating the right foods (and enough of them) in order to prevent weight and health issues. A well-fed dancer is a happy dancer! I have not found better or more helpful information anywhere and recommend her blog highly. Keep on dancing!

Beyond the Gold

Dancers are creatures of habit. Why wouldn’t we be? Our art form demands it: we take technique class every day, do roughly the same exercises in the same order every day, and work on the same things over and over again. As creatures of habit and repetition, it’s natural that we would carry that thinking into our diets. How many of us eat the same thing for breakfast every day, because it’s fast, easy and we can predict our body’s reaction to it? Don’t worry- you’re not alone. When you have a strong, clean diet of whole foods, habit is not necessarily a bad thing. But we can all benefit from adding some variety to our diet and here’s why.

Think about kiwis and oranges for a minute: not only do they look and taste differently, but they also have different nutritional make-ups. We think that oranges are high in…

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