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On Back to the Barre: Injury

English National Ballet | Photo credit : Bex Singleton

English National Ballet | Photo credit : Bex Singleton

I’ve spoken before about the pain associated with ballet. However, there are two kinds of ballet pain.

There’s the good kind; the kind that is because you’re trying something hard and that hurts, but you know that it’s good for you.

Then there’s the bad kind; the kind that means that you have damaged yourself.

Sadly, I’m currently experiencing the second kind, and today I’m in pain in four different places.

  • My toes. Bruised because I didn’t cut my toenails short enough.
  • My knee. Bruised because we were dancing a tarantella that involved kneeling and I hit the floor a bit hard.
  • My ankle. Unknown, but it hurts.
  • My leg. I’ve torn my soleus muscle.

The last one is the main problem, because it means that jumping is painful (as is walking down stairs). Wonderfully, Julia (the ballet teacher) is a physiotherapist by day, and so is able to both tell me what’s wrong, and how to go about fixing it. Unfortunately, the treatment for this torn muscle (aside from quality time with a bag of frozen veg) is rest, and specifically: ‘don’t do anything that makes it hurt’. And, whilst it’s easy enough to avoid jumping in my normal daily routine, it is a great deal less easy to avoid walking down stairs (unless I want to become a shut-in) due to the fact that I live in an upstairs flat.

This leg injury probably came about when I was jumping and landed slightly off-balance. There’s so much going on when you dance, so many things to think about and to remember to do, and so many things that can go wrong. And of course, our bodies are pretty complicated, with all these different nerves and muscles and bones; there are so many different possibilities of things that might go wrong that it’s perhaps surprising that we don’t hurt ourselves more.

Injury is annoying. But it’s also part and parcel of dancing. Forcing your body to do things that it doesn’t naturally do is always going to end badly, but we weigh the costs against the gain, and decide from there.

I’m not a fan of pain, but the real joy of dancing outweighs the potential irritation of injury (almost) every time.

In summary: no pain, no gain.



This entry was published on February 14, 2013 at 10:15 pm. It’s filed under Back to the Barre and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “On Back to the Barre: Injury

  1. parental unit (male) on said:

    Sorry to hear your woes – I hope you are recovering. Take care – and remember you aren’t as young as you once were!

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