Frequently Asked Questions

I confess I have been rolling over on my ankle enough that it's starting to get swollen. As a dance instructor, I don't feel I can tape it or stay off my feet. It wouldn't be a good example to my young students. I'm searching the Internet for any help I can find. What should I do?

Dancers are no strangers to foot and ankle injuries. Repetitive motion, long hours on the feet, and ignoring injuries when they first happen can lead to chronic problems such as you are describing. This may actually be an opportunity for you to help your young dancers learn how to get help early -- before problems progress to the point that treatment becomes complex and lengthy. When dancers are told that they are putting 300 pounds of weight on the bones and ligaments of the foot and ankle by standing on one foot and turning, for example, it can become an object lesson. Leaping and jumping increases that stress even more. Learning good technique and correcting technical errors right from the start head up the "To Do" list for any dancer. You can't stress this enough. Taking time to strengthen and stretch has always been a focal point of dance training. Now it's time to add rehab and reconditioning after an injury. Dancers should be encouraged to report even the smallest, slightest injury. And instructors should be willing and able to accept and use that information to help formulate a plan to prevent a worse problem down the road. Physical therapists and other sports specialists who have been dancers themselves or who have taken training in dance injuries can be very helpful. They can identify underlying problems and offer acceptable solutions for the athlete (dancer). Tape can be used to stabilize the foot and/or ankle while demonstrating important movements. Some dancers use a cosmetic sponge to smooth facial foundation over the tape to cover it up. In the meantime, a progressive rehab program is advised for retraining and retuning the ankle joint. The goal is to restore the ankle's ability to sense and respond to even the tiniest movement. This is an essential step in preventing future ankle sprains. Let your students see you diligently working to retrain after your own injury. If a picture is worth a thousand words, your actions will be a very powerful message.

Gina Brockenbrough. Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons with a Love of the Performing Arts Treat Dancers. In Orthodpedics Today. June 2009. Vol. 29. No. 6. Pp. 48-49.

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