Recently, heel pain has been a common complaint in the classes I coach gymnastics. Most of the time resulting in the gymnast missing key portions of the class. After doing some research, I came across information concerning Sever's Disease, one possible cause for heel pain in young athletes.
Sever's Disease is found in pre-adolescent boys and girls ages 9 to 14. This is a temporary disease, as it is related to the growth patterns of the body. The calcaneus bone (heel bone) grows at a faster rate than the achilles tendon that is attached to it. This creates greater tension on the attachment site on the calcaneus bone. Sever's Disease is inflammation and pain caused by aggravation of this attachment site. This disease is more common in athletic/active children due to repetitive high impact pounding such as running or jumping, as well as tight hamstrings, quadriceps or calf muscles.
This condition may manifest itself as red, swollen, tender heels, tight achilles tendons or calf muscles. It is best for the gymnast or dancer to seek medical attention to look at options for treatment. Some treatment options may include a heel cup, an ankle brace-like support that has a slight pad at the heel to relieve some stress on the achilles by decreasing the angle (Image Below). Another option may also be orthotics or taped arch support. As well as stretching the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles followed by icing the area for maximum 10 minutes will help with inflammation and tightness. Physical therapy is also a course of treatment that will help decrease pain and get your student back to their sports. It is always a good idea to seek a medical professional's opinion when there is pain. When the growth plates close, which takes about two years, the pain should go away. For more information concerning this condition please check out the links below:
References: (above links)
As a dancers, we twist, fall, jump, run up walls and throw ourselves into other human's bodies on purpose! We love what we do but this movement can cause new or repetitive stresses on the body that can cause imbalances that leads to aches, pains, and creaky joints. These imbalances could be muscular, circulatory, or even digestive.
There are many ways in which one can maintain their body. Chiropractor, acupuncture, physical therapy. One option that is a bit less well known is Osteopathy. Osteopathy is a natural medicine, that assesses the body as a whole and uses manual techniques to balance the body's systems. Analysis of all the systems of the body (visceral, digestive, musculo-skeletal, circulatory, neurological, and cranial) takes place. Looking at how these systems are working together and if they are balanced. Osteopathy uses a hands on approach to balance these systems in the body, to get the body back to normal function. Examples of hands on work may include realigning the sacrum, releasing the femur in the hip joint, or moving organs back to proper place in the torso. While this may sound intense and perhaps a little scary. From personal experience, I can confidently say the experience of going to a Osteopathic practitioner is a very positive one.
What is unique about osteopathy, is it's holistic (whole body) approach. If the ankle is hurting because it is jammed up, a practitioner will assess how that misalignment as affected the rest of the body. On your first visit with an Osteopathic Practitioner, you will receive an interview and a full body evaluation. In the States there are Doctors of Osteopath and in Canada there are DOPM, also known as Osteopathic Practioners. These two roles are similar but not the same. For more information please refer to the links below.
Yoga is a wonderful way to improve your life through fitness. It is also a great option for cross-training, whether you dance, do gymnastics, run, walk, play soccer, etc. Yoga focuses on centering the body and mind through the use of breath and balance. Using breath with movement is good practice for dancers, as most of the time dancers, especially younger dancers, can forget to breath while moving. Focused breathing will also helps to increase stamina and lung capacity.
Connecting the mind with body is also good practice because it is essential to know where the body is in space and how is feeling in terms of injury prevention. The physical aspects of yoga include increasing flexibility through remaining in poses for a set time and breathing through them. Yoga has many poses that strengthen the muscles of the feet and lower legs such as tree pose or hand in foot pose.
Another important aspect of yoga that makes it great for cross-training, is that it works all sides (front, back, right and left sides) of the body equally. This is sometimes not the case in dance, as a dancer or choreographer will favor a particular side or style of moving that is not equal.
Here are some more benefits of yoga for dancers:
There are great ways to check out yoga and see if it is right for you. Most studios have beginning specials or trial weeks, where you can come in and try out the different styles of yoga.
Vancouver BC studios:
Seattle WA studios:
For more information on yoga please check out this great resource:
Potassium is an important mineral in the body. If the body is depleted of potassium it is unable to repolarise cells which can lead to improper muscular contraction (ie. such as cramps) or muscle weakness and fatigue. Some possible causes of potassium depletion can be from dehydration or inadequate dietary intake.
Bananas are a common source of potassium. It is popular because it can be a healthy easy snack to carry with you, providing you will about 12% of your daily value (DV) of potassium. However, bananas are not the only possible sources of potassium. Below is a list of other possible sources of potassium:
This is by no means a comprehensive list, there are many ways to obtain potassium in your diet, however, most of these are easy snacking foods and can easily be used in lunches or mid-day snacks.
The International Association of Dance Medicine & Science was established in 1990 by a group of international dance medicine practitioners, dance scientists, dance educators and dancers. Since it’s inception, the association has grown to over 900 members from 35 different countries around the world. The goals of the association can be summed up by their mission statement:
"IADMS enhances the health, well-being, training, and performance of dancers by cultivating educational, medical, and scientific excellence."
Every year a scientific conference is held in venues around the world. This annual meeting is multidisciplinary and attended by healthcare professionals, educators, artists, administrators and dance professionals. Becoming a member of IADMS has a number of benefits, the greatest being the information that can be gathered regarding dance medicine/science knowledge and the connections that can be made attending the meetings and joining in on the discussion of new findings.
To become a member visit the IADMS website: http://www.iadms.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1
IADMS is a great resource for any dance science/medicine questions because they are continually publishing new findings as the demand for the knowledge grows.
IADMS website. About IADMS. 2013 http://www.iadms.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=8
This post from theballetblog.com has great information about training your deep external rotators to help with engaging turnout. One thing I particularly like about this post is the training of the standing leg. The standing leg is just as important as the moving leg, sometimes more so if it is needing to stay turned out while supporting your entire body weight. Check it out!
Isolating your True Turnout
With the change of the seasons, school starting up and the beginning of the new dance session, life has picked up the pace and things are moving just a little bit faster. How do you prepare your dancers and students for this increased pace?
Discuss with your students the importance of preparing themselves and their body for school and dance class. They may have seen or heard these topics talked about before but, we as their teachers and coaches have the opportunity to inspire healthy lifestyle choices in young adults and children. How great is that?! The beginning of the school year is an ideal time to bring up these topics. Such as: what constitutes a good snack? The importance of drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Why it is important to avoid sugary snacks, especially right before dance class or practice? As educators we can help young dancers and athletes form healthy lifestyle habits that will carry on throughout their entire life.
First and most obviously, encourage them to get enough sleep. A lack of sleep leads to decreased attention span, decreased ability to take in corrections, and lowered awareness of where and what his or her body is doing in space. A lack of sleep will also decrease immune system and ability to cope with the pressures of juggling school work, dance class and life.
Now that dancers will be at school directly before class, they are more likely to be dehydrated. It is advisable to encourage them to carry a water bottle with them at school. Stretching while dehydrated increases the chances of pulling a muscle, not to mention dehydration can lead to lethargy, irritability, fatigue and dizziness. During class or practice it is recommended that for every 15 to 20 minutes of activity, a water break should be taken. After activities, electrolytes and carbohydrates need to be replaced, this can be done with watered down juice or sports drinks (be careful of high sugar content).
Discuss healthy snacks to have after school and before dance class, such as peanut butter and celery, yogurt and fruit, string cheese, pretzels, etc. Touch on what sugary snacks can do to your energy level. Simple sugar snacks can cause a high-glycemic effect, where the child will have a lot of energy while the blood sugar level is high and as it comes down dramatically, the child crashes and is very low on energy. It is best to avoid these snacks before dance class, practice, rehearsal, game day, or recital time. For more tips on athletic kids and balancing life check out:
We have all heard that avocados are good for our hearts and have good fats. Why exactly are avocados good for us and what is the difference between good fats and bad fats?
"Bad Fats" are saturated fats and are solid at room temperature, such as animal fats, butter and lard. "Good Fats" are unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are liquid at room temperature. Replacing bad fats in your diet with good fats will decrease the density of lipids in the blood. It has also been shown by studies that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats while staying within calorie needs will serve as one effective way to decrease the risk of heart disease. Avocados are a wonderful option for both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. This fruit is sodium-free and 50% of its fat content is monounsaturated. Not to mention the lutein content in avocados is good for eye health.
Here are some unique recipes for avocados:
CarliAnn & Ella