Dance Injury – At What Cost?

Everyone knows the irritation of getting a paper cut on his or her finger. After the initial “ouch,” you bandage it, and suffer silently (or not so silently), as you try to perform simple everyday functions.  Suddenly, those simple tasks are not so simple.  It’s hard temporarily to write with a pen, turn a key in your car door, or even pick up a hot Starbucks cup without making a complete idiot of yourself.

Unfortunately, dance injuries are usually larger than a paper cut.  You can develop shin splints, Ankleingrown toenails, a strain, or a broken bone in your left foot. Then, the ordinary everyday becomes dysfunction, and it multiplies exponentially.  Suddenly you’re nursing an injury that may take time to heal. Lots of time.  You’re out of the pointe class or company performance, and you’re feeling some serious “blahs.”

A dance injury – at what cost? No. I’m not talking about money, and I’m not offering advice. I’ll leave that to the medical professionals. What I am talking about is the mental anguish of not being able to dance while sustaining the injury. You’re used to the daily exercise, the rush of happy endorphins, the social aspect of being in class. You thrive on it.  It’s frustrating to say the least, waiting around at home on the couch anywhere from a week to a few months. And, it’s not only dance injuries.  You can get the flu, pull a muscle from coughing, or merely trip over a book on the floor of your apartment, and hurt yourself.  What do you do then? How do you wait? Why did this have to happen in the first place?

The first rule of healing is to listen to your doctor or physical therapist.  They will tell you when you are ready to move those muscles, and, in what way. In the meantime, there are things that you can do to pass the time productively.



While you’re out of commission, use this time to visualize combinations.

Petite allegro and adagio are mental exercises anyway. If you don’t remember what your connecting moves are, in order, you’ll miss your combination and stop dead in center floor. Take this time now to go over some past combinations from class in your head, especially some of the more difficult ones that used to trip you up. Memorize them, so that when you do return, you will have a head start.  In addition, try to mentally correct commonplace errors, and imagine yourself back at the barre in great shape. Positive thinking can go a long way.



The Internet explosion of dance

Thank goodness for all of those ballet videos on Facebook and You Tube. Keep watching while you are resting up. Study them. How does the ballerina retain control? Why are her fouettes crisp and clean? Watch all your favorite ballet clips, and revel in the beauty of it. After all, you’ll be back doing it yourself as soon as you’ve healed.


Write in a Journal

Pour the words of your soul into a book.

One of the greatest therapies in the world is writing. And, its free. Write your thoughts, frustrations, joys and woes about ballet into a journal, either online, or in an old-fashioned notebook. Get it all out. Complain first, and then write about how much you love ballet. When you’re finished, write a positive sentence that states your determination to reach your goal – returning to class.


While you may not heal faster, you won’t stagnate either, and you’ll keep your pointed foot in the ballet game. The important thing is not to stress out. You will heal. Patience is your best friend, along with the calendar. Every day that passes brings you closer to being back on your toes, and putting on those magical red shoes.



Photo: Wikimedia Commons Publlic Domain

July 3, 2016




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2 thoughts on “Dance Injury – At What Cost?

  1. Lisa Blanchard

    Nancy, I’m just a recreational adult ballet student and when I injured myself was away from my once a week ballet class for a few months and then modified for a long time after. The absence of that class brought so much distress, I can’t imagine what actual dancers go through! My teacher, Catherine Tully soothed my broken heart by saying, “Don’t worry, what you’ve learned will be there, when you come back — Patience, the biggest ballet lesson of all!”

    1. Nancy Lorenz Post author

      I feel your pain. I recently had a bad flu, and during recovery, I hurt my muscle from coughing so badly, I got a muscle strain. I’ve been out of class for 5 weeks (so far!) I can’t wait to get back to the barre myself. I know you will heal. I know we both will. Catherine is wise, and a kind person too! She’s very nice. And, patience surely is a lesson!


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