Minor injuries that prevent you from dancing can be frustrating. A few weeks ago, I noticed a sharp pain in the top of my foot when I walked. It persisted over a few days, and after going to work with it, the pain became so bad that I was heavily limping. I decided to get it looked at, in case it was bone damage such as a stress fracture, and the nurse confirmed that it was soft tissue damage, namely inflammation of the tendons in the foot. She attributed it to the fact that I had been working long hours in cheap, unsupportive street shoes, and prescribed anti-inflammatories and total rest.
This meant that I had to take time off work, as well as ballet. It was extremely boring to be stuck inside, as I always like to be on the go, but I found ways of entertaining myself. I bought a colouring book, which I found very absorbing and therapeutic, and got a lot of long-overdue housework done! I went back to work last week with a reduction in my hours per week, and I came back to my first ballet class this morning, minus allegro.
When you suffer a minor injury, it can feel like an unnecessary setback, and when the injury is not severe, it’s tempting to simply take a day or two off and then go back to dancing again. However, proper rest can do your body so much good. It means that the injury won’t persist for months, or just come back again, and it can do a lot of good for your whole body to experience a change of pace. Taking time out to relax can help you to get a new, positive perspective, instead of rushing along through life without stopping to think about where you’re going. This allows you to come back to class healthy, happy and focused.
Coming back after an injury, it’s important to do a little at a time. To avoid getting completely out of shape, do what exercise you can- this will depend on your injury. You might be able to walk, to swim, to do yoga or pilates, or floor barre. As you start to feel better, you can do more of this, and maybe go back to class and just take barre, then eventually centre. Again, depending on the injury, it might be wise to avoid certain movements (e.g. for a back injury be careful with full ports de bras backwards (backbends), arabesque and attitude), allegro or pointe work. Take time to warm up your whole body and especially the injured area- if it helps, use sports tape or a support bandage. Afterwards, stretch and cool down properly and then apply heat or ice as appropriate.
The main thing is to not get frustrated- go slowly, and know that once you’re back to your full strength it will feel like the injury never happened.