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Prevent Ballet Injuries In Ballet Toe Shoes

Sprained Ankles and Inflamed Achilles Tendons

A dancer I spoke to recently complained of stiffness in the Achilles tendon, after a full recovery from a sprained ankle. She wanted to stretch out the Achilles tendon.

My take on this is that the Achilles tendon may or may not have been torn when the ankle was sprained. I suspect that the stiffness the dancer is feeling is from scarred ankle muscles. In this situation, I can only assume that the health practitioner who treated the ankle injury would have known if the Achilles had been hurt.

Also, right now, there is no pain in the Achilles, just stiffness in the ankle joint.

The usual calf stretches will return some range of motion to the ankle joint.  Done when you are well warmed up, this will help increase the depth of the demi plie.

When the Achilles tendon is inflamed, it is often the result of chronically tense calf muscles. Calf muscles need to be stretched and relaxed with massage or a Pinkie Ball, after every class. This is done by:

  • sitting on the floor, legs straight and relaxed
  • roll a sports ball under the calf muscle and you will feel tense spots
  • place the ball immediately below the back of the knee
  • press your calf into the ball every inch or so, moving down the leg to the ankle

You will feel tender spots that you can press into, releasing accumulated muscle tension. This will allow for the full depth of your demi plie.

Spaulding ball for release muscle tension

Use for muscle tension - prevent injuries

Try using coconut oil for massing your calves (and feet too!). I suggest this because it is an anti-inflammatory oil. You can scent it if you like.

The sprained ankle may have some scarring, and there is a homeopathic ointment used for decreasing scar tissue called Traumeel. It is a long term project; you may use it for up to a year or even longer. However, there is a strong likelihood that stiffness after a sprained ankle will relieve with careful stretching and tension release in the calf muscles.

Also note that calf muscles become over-worked when the sole of the foot muscles are undeveloped. This becomes a problem when you  aim to get onto pointe. Any muscle weakness, or inaccurate ballet moves or ballet positions, transforms into a  more obvious difficulty once you are in ballet toe shoes.

How To Prevent Ballet Injuries

  • make sure you know whether your feet or strong or not
  • work toward strong feet so that your calf muscles are not over-working

Foot exercises are both described in text and shown in videos in The Pointe Book. This book/video collection of  ballet tips also gives you progress charts and self-assessment tests so you know when you’re getting stronger.

The Pointe Book all about pointe shoes

Learn to prevent ballet foot injuries



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