Advice for Dancers

By Hamilton, Linda | Dance Magazine, September 2003 | Go to article overview
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Advice for Dancers


Hamilton, Linda, Dance Magazine


I'VE SUBSCRIBED TO DANCE MAGAZINE FOR YEARS, AND YOUR COLUMN IS ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS I READ EACH MONTH FOR YOUR EXCELLENT ADVICE. HOWEVER, IN RESPONSE TO "ANONYMOUS" WITH SORE KNEES (SEE ADVICE FOR DANCERS, DANCE MAGAZINE, JUNE, PAGE 13), MAY I SUGGEST ANOTHER POSSIBILITY FOR HER PAIN BESIDES OVERTRAINING? DANCERS WORK WITH TURNED-OUT HIPS AND FEET, WHILE MOST EXERCISES AT A GYM ARE DONE IN A PARALLEL POSITION. WHEN I MOVED FROM DANCE CLASS TO THE GYM MY KNEES ALSO FELT AWFUL UNTIL A TRAINER MODIFIED EXERCISES TO INCLUDE A SLIGHT TURNOUT. NOW, WHILE OTHERS' FEET POINT STRAIGHT AHEAD ON THE EFX ELLIPTICAL FITNESS CROSSTRAINER MACHINE, MINE ARE AS TURNED OUT AS THE MACHINE ALLOWS. AND THE KNEE PAIN IS GONE!--TONI MULLER FROM SPRINGFIELD, OREGON Your point about turnout is well taken. In fact, this is one of the major advantages of the Pilates system, because it allows dancers to exercise in their position of function. Still, Anonymous's knee pain occurred while dancing, not working out at the gym, suggesting that the problem arose from too much training. Dance medicine specialists tell me that a common knee injury due to overwork is a strained tendon, causing patellar tendinitis ("jumper's knee"). Telltale signs include pain in front of flee knee when landing from a jump or going down stairs. The first step toward recovery is to reduce training or even take time off, especially if the dancer has the luxury of a summer break or layoff. If the pain continues, see a physical therapist or orthopedist for a correct diagnosis and treatment plan. Smart dancers know that the best way to treat overuse injuries is to address them before they become chronic problems.

I RECENTLY STARTED TAKING HIP-HOP CLASSES WITH MY GIRLFRIEND AND WAS SURPRISED AT HOW GOOD IT FELT TO WORK OUT AGAIN. I LOVED DOING TRACK IN HIGH SCHOOL, BUT I DIDN'T KNOW YOU COULD GET THE SAME FEELING FROM DANCE. IS IT A CHEMICAL THING?--HOOKED ON DANCE Intense exercise, whether it's from sports or dance, has the power to release the body's endorphins, natural morphine-like chemicals that calm your nerves while producing feelings of satisfaction, euphoria, and a greater tolerance for pain. This reaction is often referred to as the "runner's high." Other pleasurable experiences, such as laughter, soothing music, meditation, and sweets, can also elevate endorphins. In the latter case, food cravings usually accompany periods of stress or hormonal changes two weeks before a woman's menstrual cycle. They may also be associated with seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression related to lack of sunlight.

WHY DO DANCE TEACHERS SNUB STUDENTS WHO DROP OUT OF THE PROFESSION? BOTH MY DAUGHTERS WERE GIVEN THE COLD SHOULDER AT A RECENT DANCE RECITAL BY A FROSTY INSTRUCTOR, AFTER YEARS OF FRIENDLY GREETINGS WHEN THEY WERE HER STUDENTS.

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