Topic of this article is to offer you detailed and complexive view on the health condition of the dancers of the professional ballet. We want to inform you about the problems which are resulting from a long term ballet dancing affecting the active dancers.
Being a ballet dancer means apart from beauty and art, also many other inseparable issues. It is a challenging profession which can be physically and mentally very exhausting, so the life of the ballet dancers is usually full of pain, suffering and repeating injuries.
WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT IN A BALLET CAREER?
The dancers put the ballet shoes first on in the dancing classes or dance academy. They usually start at the age of 12. In this age the organism is in development, and it has to deal with disproportional pressure. The tissues on the foot will first balance out the intensive pressure and blood blisters, which are after sometime replaced by calluses. And this is just a beginning. The foot is during the dance in an unnatural position constantly burdened, which is reflecting on the transversal and longitudinal arch of the foot. The toes are gradually deforming into a hammer toe shape with permanently shortened ligaments of the flexors of the toes. The big toes will start to “collapse” inwardly under the pressure, forming the “hallux valgus” - bunion.
Constant dancing on the toes forces the foot to be rotated in the ankle downwardly, which causes enormous pressure on the calf muscle, which is reacting to the following pain of the Achilles tendon and frequent ruptures (torn fibres). Sprained ankles are unfortunately a common injury of hard trainings. The knees are also suffering from the pressure, especially the soft structures of the knees.
Ballet dancers are known for their flexibility, however hypermobility can mean risk of damaging the joint capsules, tendons and muscles. Usually it ends with torn tendons, meniscus and fractures.
And one has to keep a straight posture while dancing, but is still healthy for our spine? Correct body posture is important, but extreme straightening of the dancers is unnatural. Especially the arch shape in the thoracic spine is completely absent, the spine even bends in opposite direction. That creates a posture with outstretched chest and chest muscles too much in the front, which is pushing the lumbar spine and buttocks backwards. Such position of the body is not economic and it is interfering with with a natural statics of the spine. That leads to overload and consecutive pain in the neck area, pain in the shoulder blades and in the lumbar spine.
Apart from the physical tension, there is also a developing psychological stress, to which our body responds with tiredness, pain and health problems. A normal day for ballet dancers is consisted of 4-6 hour long training and in the evening with a show, where they have to often times perform on the comparable level of top athletes. Apart from physical preparation, there are high demands on a psychological endurance. High levels of stress, which overloads the organism needs an adequate compensation. Because of the time management, many ballet dancers solve this problem with smoking, that adds only more health problems which are gradually increasing.
HOW TO SOLVE IT?
Even though ballet dancers have a complicated profession and many negatives and effect on the mental and physical health, to a certain degree it can be compensated by an optional regeneration. We can compensate it with a quality and long sleep, regular massages, nutritionally rich food, thorough muscle relaxation, adjusting the muscle imbalance and keeping a strong immunity.
What are the compensational options? You can find it in a following article:
Shockwave therapy is ideal in therapy of traumatic injuries. More about effects of the shockwave therapy can be found in the article: Description and effects of the shockwave therapy.
- Tendinopathy (attachment pain) of the Achilles tendon in shockwave therapy
- Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS)
Author: FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic