Tuesday, 10 November 2015

How to Cope With Injury and Illness When Fitness And Dance Are Your Life

Alongside death, moving house, losing a job and divorce, dealing with physical injury is considered one of the major threats to mental health.
Many, many years ago at the height of my manic hours of running, I would force myself to work through injuries to the point of being incapable of walking from my car to the kerb. I have come to a genuine appreciation of my body and what it can do now and forcing my body into a regime it can't cope with is a foreign idea to me, thank god.

For many who have a daily routine, who work in fitness or play a sport, injury can be isolating. Especially if you can't make the classes where you normally see the same people and it's a social communion that lifts your spirits.


Having strained both knees at the moment, I'm struggling with the mental and physical
consequences. I can't do my usual training routine and I've had to reduce my classes to enable recovery and healing time. Here are my coping strategies and whatever your injury, whatever impact it has on your professional or personal life, I hope these ideas help you.

1. Be sad! Don't feel like you have to puff your chest out, smile and shrug it off. You're not overreacting. This is your body and when it isn't performing as you want it to and it's even causing you pain, that IS sad. This is part of healing.

2. Get the information you need from a professional. Don't self-diagnose (oh, it's probably a twisted ankle, I think I fractured my... etc). See a physiotherapist, a doctor, a sport physiologist and diagnose exactly what the issue is. Then you can determine the best way to rehabilitate.

3. Plan your rehabilitation. Don't set exact timelines. You won't know for sure that your body will follow a set plan. But work out what you can do and what will still make you strong, flexible and able to spend time with others while not compromising your health and fitness.

3. Use the skills you have gained as an athlete, yogi, weightlifting pro in every other aspect of your life. Be strong, be determined, be committed.

4. Don't isolate yourself. Attend classes that you can participate in - even if you need to modify moves and even skip parts of.

5. See a counselor, psychologist, compassionate GP. Being able to talk about your fears, your struggles and your plans with someone who is trained to listen and support is so valuable.

As a barre instructor, I found this site fascinating. Common Dance Injuries by body area. As a hyper-extender (where I lock my knees back), I need to think about keeping flexion or a slight bend in the knees. Trying.
The following info comes from Harkness Centre for Dance Injuries.

Genu Recurvatum (Hyperextension)

" My knees extend way back, and now they’re painful."

Knee Injury Prevention Tip for Dancers

  • Strengthening the knee and hip muscles are critical to preventing overuse injuries. Strong, balanced muscles will help take strain away from the knee.
  • Stretching the knee and hip muscles are equally important in preventing overuse injuries. Stretching the quadriceps, hamstring, and hip muscles will help to make your muscles long and lean, and will reduce pull on the different knee structures.
  • Give your body time to rest and heal itself, otherwise damage can build up and cause chronic pain conditions.
  • Listen to your body! If it hurts after class, rehearsal or performance, the chances are you’ve irritated something by over-use. Ease off it, and give it time to heal, otherwise you may end up with an ‘–itis’ type overuse injury.
  • Fatigue sets in at the end of a long day of class and rehearsal. Continued strengthening of the knee and hip muscles is of the utmost importance to prevent injury when the body gets tired.
  • Use proper technique. Alignment in a pliĆ© should always be maintained such that the knee goes directly over the second toe. When the knee falls inside the second toe, it can put increased stress on structures in the ankle, knee, and hip.

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