Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rest, Recuperate and Readjust: stretching and injuries

An injury is the body's message that you need to rest and recuperate. Most people know the common acronym: RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation). To which I add an -A (Advil or Aleve for inflammation reduction). Others add a P- for prevention.

Prevention to me relates to the third R of my R&R: Readjust.

First of all, let's make sure you have rested properly and are ready to get back into dance slowly after an injury.  This is an opportunity to work properly, beginning with the barre:

--Close your eyes and feel your weight on both feet. Prepare with 2 hands facing the barre rather than one hand at a time, if it's too difficult to stand with just one.
--Breathe deeply, be aware of when you are inhaling and exhaling on movement (e.g. exhale as you degage or battement away from you, inhale as you recover from a plie).
--Focus on turnout happening from the top of your legs, knees going over the second toe of your foot.
--Pull your arches up when you stand on both feet. Pull your knees up on both legs always.
--Feel the breath opening your back. Your back is a T formed by the spine and the arms. Energy goes through the entire T.
--Hips are lifted, glutes are loose not clenched. Remember you must relax before you can contract.

Whenever I have an injury (whether it's an ongoing -itis like tendonitis in my knee or ankle or acute like a fall or sprain from a turn or jump) I take extra time to warm up slowly, to stretch properly, and to focus on my alignment first and foremost.  Only once I am properly aligned do I approach movement off the barre.

I love this article with some tips on stretching exercises for ballet dancers. I also love this article from OSU about 14 common dance injuries and what to do for them. Injuries can be opportunities for improvement. Take the time to fix what's wrong and then you will be able to prevent injuries in the future and be a lot happier in the present.

Happy safe dancing~

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