Health & Body

Why Can't I Heal? 8 Reasons Your Injury Might Be Taking Longer To Recover

Recovery doesn't always follow your ideal timeline. Photo by Jairo Alzate/Unsplash

You've rested and rehabilitated. But what if an injury still bothers you? Health-care professionals share eight reasons dancers might heal more slowly than expected.


You Got the Wrong Diagnosis

Make sure you're targeting the right injury. Photo via Unsplash

If a chronic injury won't heal, make sure you are treating the right one. According to orthopedic surgeon Donald Rose, founding director of the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Langone, doctors who aren't familiar with treating dancers can mistake dancer-specific injuries like FHL tendonitis or os trigonum syndrome for the more widely seen Achilles tendonitis. A misdiagnosis could lead to a physical therapy regimen that overlooks the true injury.

You've Been Dancing Through The Pain

Dancers' work ethic can backfire. Photo via Unsplash

As the lead physical therapist for Smuin Ballet for the past 20 years, Suzanne Martin says that dancers' work ethic often causes them to try to push through minor injuries. "If they really want to do something, I'll try my hardest to help them. But there are other times where it's impossible," she says. Resting when it's essen­tial will help a dancer get back on their feet more quickly. "If you take a week off now, you could last the entire season."

Don't buy into the myth that dancing through pain is normal. Rose says that if you have pain for more than four or five days after an acute injury, if there's significant pain, if you hear a pop, if you're not able to move an extremity, or if you have swelling or instability of the knee or ankle, don't wait to see a doctor.

You Keep Testing It

Avoid the temptation to keep poking the bruise. Photo by Dolo Iglesias/Unsplash

When you're sidelined, you might wake up every morning wanting to test your body to see whether it's feeling better. But checking if an injury still hurts can set back your recovery. "It's like little bamboo shoots are trying to grow but you're snapping them off," Martin says.

If a doctor or PT has told you to rest for a certain amount of time, let your body heal itself. Talk to a professional about when you can start testing weight on the injured area or stretch a strained muscle.

You Came Back Too Soon

You may nee to start by only taking the first half of class for a week or two. Photo by Matthew Murphy for Pointe

Don't rush through the reentry period, or you could wind up having to re-heal the same injury. Dance is not the same as sports like track and field, Martin says: "It requires so much articu­lation and detail work."

Oftentimes you'll have to train the injured area to take more weight little by little, or gradually increase your range of motion. Instead of dancing full-out until something hurts, work with your PT or other health-care provider to safely ease back into your regular routine.

Your Body is Hypermobile

Dancers with hypermobile joints can take longer to heal. Photo by Rachel Papo.

If your joints are hypermobile you may take longer to heal from sprains than your friends, possibly because there's less stability and strength in your ligaments. While one 2009 study showed dancers with joint hypermobility syndrome took longer to heal than the general dancer population, researchers were unsure whether this was because healing was truly delayed or if tissue damage was worse in these examples. Martin says a collagen supplement may help, but you should speak to a doctor before deciding to take one.

You Smoke Cigarettes

Nicotine delays healing. Photo via Unsplash

A 2013 analysis of several studies showed that smokers can take around 40 percent longer to heal a broken bone than nonsmokers. Researchers haven't pinpointed the reason yet, but cigarettes likely affect bone cell growth. Other studies have shown nicotine delays wound healing because it constricts blood vessels, blocking the flow of nutrients to damaged tissues. Research also suggests nicotine delays tendon healing in particular, possibly by causing chronic inflammation and slowing cell growth.

You're Not Getting Enough Nutrients

Maintain a hearty diet to keep your recovery on track. Photo by James Harris/Unsplash

Your body needs nutrients like calcium to repair and fortify bones, and protein to rebuild muscle tissue. "There's no way you can keep restoring muscle and bone if you're not ingesting enough," Martin says.

If you suffer from stress fractures, it could be a sign you're not getting enough calories. "As soon as I see a dancer with a history of multiple stress fractures, alarm bells go off and I ask about their nutritional status: Do they eat well? Do they have regular periods?" Rose says.

Make time for meals throughout the day, not just a big dinner before bed. A dietitian can help you plan meal strategies that suit your schedule.

You're Missing The Bigger Picture

Take care of your mental health to protect your physical health. Photo by Eutah Mizushima/Unsplash

Rose takes a holistic approach to assessing injuries, and will sometimes involve other health-care practitioners, from gynecologists to psychologists, to figure out why a dancer has a particular injury. There could be hormonal contributors or psychological factors.

"There's a lot of anxiety in the performance world," Martin points out. "You're half-naked onstage and things go wrong all the time. There's nothing wrong with you if you want to address your anxiety."

In addition to seeing a therapist, Martin suggests, maintain friends outside the dance world who will support you no matter where your career takes you. If you're in a good place mentally, you're better equipped to eat right, sleep enough and generally take care of your body so you can heal quickly.

Show Comments ()
Dance Training
Staring down the audience can be a powerful choice when appropriate. Photo by Soho Images, "Nebula" choreographed by Maria Konrad courtesy Next Generation Dance

The most compelling dancers don't just have amazing technique. They also use their focus to draw in the audience and make their performance captivating. Be more confident and engaging onstage by avoiding these mistakes:

Keep reading... Show less
News
Joe Lanteri teaching at Steps in the early 2000s

The iconic New York City dance studio Steps on Broadway has a new leader coming on board: Joe Lanteri. The New York City Dance Alliance founder will be Steps' new co-owner and executive director.

"For me, it's a big full circle," says Lanteri, who used to take class at Steps when he first moved to New York City, and started teaching there in the mid-1980s. The 4:30 p.m. Tuesday/Thursday Advanced Intermediate Jazz slot he held down for many years taught a slew of young talent—including choreographers-to-be like Jessica Lang and Sergio Trujillo. "As a young teacher, Steps was a platform for me to travel the world giving master classes; it became the underlying foundation for what I'm doing now in my life."

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Donald Byrd and Beth Corning share the stage for What's Missing? Photo by Frank Walsh, Courtesy Corning.

When I was approached to write on ageism in dance, I have to admit that after the initial honor of the invite, I suddenly felt old.

I guess I fit the "qualifications" to write this. I'm 63. I've been professionally dancing and choreographing for some 40-plus years, and, in the process, have accumulated a certain amount of perspective on the field. After 20 years running Corning Dances & Company, in 2000 I suddenly looked up and realized I was 10 to 20 years older than my company members. The layers of nuance I was craving were not there; their albeit lithe bodies understandably lacked a base of worldly experience and expression. I couldn't present the kind of movement or conversation I wanted onstage.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in Nicolo Fonte's The Heart(s)pace. Photo by Sharen Bradford, Courtesy ASFB

Small- to medium-sized companies based in cities outside dance meccas—New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles—are often written off as "regional," or somehow lesser than their big city counterparts. But in recent decades, a few have defied such categorization as they've gained traction on the national and international scene.

So how does a company build an international profile without losing connection to its hometown? We asked the directors of Tulsa Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Sarasota Ballet to share their strategies.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Voices
Photo via Andrew Seaman/Unsplash

Dear Dance Magazine,

Thank you for demonstrating a commitment to transparency and evolution during this divisive time in our country. Over the past few years I have seen the Dance Magazine content reflect increased awareness about the value of inclusion and diversity in U.S. culture. It also has highlighted the need for the dance industry culture to self-examine and pursue constant revisions (just as dancers themselves do).

Keep reading... Show less
News
Ramasar and Catazaro, photos via Instagram

New York City Ballet fired principal dancers Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro on Saturday. Both had initially been suspended until 2019 for engaging in "inappropriate communications," while principal Chase Finlay, who was the instigator of those communications, resigned. (Although, in a statement on Saturday, NYCB made it clear they had decided to terminate Finlay prior to his resignation.)

The New York Times reports that NYCB says the change from suspension to termination resulted from hearing the concerns of dancers, staff members and others in the NYCB community. Yet it's hard to ignore the fact that a lawsuit against NYCB had been filed in the meantime. A statement from NYCB executive director Katherine Brown and interim artistic team leader Jonathan Stafford stated:

"We have no higher obligation than to ensure that our dancers and staff have a workplace where they feel respected and valued, and we are committed to providing that environment for all employees of New York City Ballet."

Since the news was announced, both Catazaro and Ramasar have spoken out publicly about being fired.

Keep reading... Show less
Career Advice
Natasha Sheehan says competing gave her a crack at rep beyond her rank. Photo by Erik Tomasson, courtesy SFB

As a student, Katherine Barkman competed in several prestigious ballet competitions, and even won first place at the Youth America Grand Prix in Philadelphia. But at age 21, already a guest principal dancer with Ballet Manila, she decided to return to the competition stage as a professional. She found herself humbled by an experience at the 2017 Moscow International Ballet Competition.

"I was pretty intimidated, thinking, This is the big leagues, this is the Bolshoi Theatre," says Barkman, who was eliminated after the first round. "You are not just judged on how good you are for your age."

Competitions have long had a place in the training of young dancers, allowing them more opportunities to perform and learn under pressure. But even after you've secured a company contract, there are myriad benefits to putting yourself in front of judges.

Keep reading... Show less
Career Advice
Being an introvert doesn't mean you can't shine in the spotlight. Photo by Saksham Gangwar/Unsplash

Most people assume that for dancers to be successful, they have to be extroverts who feed off of constant attention. They figure that introverts don't enjoy being in the spotlight.

But don't let anyone tell you that just because you're introverted, you can't have a career in dance.

According to the Myers & Briggs Foundation, the only real difference between introverts and extroverts is where they get their energy. Extroverts are energized by social interaction and drained by time spent alone, while introverts experience the opposite.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Xenos, Akram Khan's final full-length solo, is an ode to the soldiers of World War I. Photo by Nicol Vizioli, Courtesy Sadler's Wells

We might have gotten a little bit carried away with this year's "Season Preview"—but with the 2018–19 season packing so many buzzy shows, how could we not? Here are over two dozen tours, premieres and revivals that have us drooling.

Keep reading... Show less
Rant & Rave
Photo Caleb Woods via Unsplash.com

Update: Additional perspectives have been added to this story as more responses have come in.

When news about the lawsuit against New York City Ballet and Chase Finlay emerged last week, plaintiff Alexandra Waterbury, a former School of American Ballet student, told The New York Times:

"Every time I see a little girl in a tutu or with her hair in a bun on her way to ballet class, all I can think is that she should run in the other direction," she said, "because no one will protect her, like no one protected me."

It was quite a statement, and it got us thinking. Of course, it's heartbreaking to imagine the experiences that Waterbury lists in the lawsuit, and it's easy to see why this would be her reaction.

But should aspiring ballet dancers really "run in the other direction"? Were her alleged experiences isolated incidences perpetuated by a tiny percentage of just one company—or are they indicative of major problems in today's ballet culture within and beyond NYCB's walls?

Keep reading... Show less
Rant & Rave
Mandy Moore at the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, during which she took home her first Emmy. Photo courtesy Inline/AP

Every year, as soon as the Emmy Award nominations are announced, the first thing I do is scroll down (way, way, way down) to find the nominees for Best Choreography. Last week's announcement was no different, and it was a delightful surprise to see tap queen Chloe Arnold become a first-time nominee for her work on "The Late Late Show With James Corden." Alongside Arnold, Mandy Moore, Travis Wall, Al Blackstone and Christopher Scott received nominations for their dances on awards heavy-hitter "So You Think You Can Dance." (Shout-out to Blackstone for his first Emmy nod!)

I do, however, have a bone to pick with the Emmys. Namely, that the routines for which these choreographers were nominated do not appear on the nominations section of the site. Worse, not even the episodes in which the Emmy-nominated dances appear are listed.

Keep reading... Show less
Editors’ List: The Goods

Longer ballet skirts are having a major moment. We've seen them popping up in the Instagram studio clips of dance fashionistas around the world—from American Ballet Theatre's Isabella Boylston to The Royal Ballet's Beatriz Stix-Brunell to Berlin State Ballet's Iana Salenko. And with cooler weather on the way, we have a feeling we'll be seeing even more calf-length skirts.

Beyond being trendy, long ballet skirts give any studio ensemble a sophisticated prima ballerina vibe (hi, Natalia Makarova). Try out one of these long skirt options.

Keep reading... Show less
What Wendy's Watching
Bill T. Jones' Ambros: The Emigrant. PC Paul B. Goode

Bill T. Jones is one of the few choreographers who can weave together social consciousness with choreographic inventiveness. This is visible in all three parts of his Analogy Trilogy, a 6½-hour marathon that comes to NYU Skirball Center on Sept. 22 and 23.

In this Trilogy, Jones goes beyond his own cultural identity. The first part, Dora: Tramontane, centers on Dora Amelan, a Holocaust survivor who tried to help children during World War II. Her ordeal is told through interviews spoken by the dancers and envisioned in shifting scenes. The second part, Lance: Pretty aka the Escape Artist, is about Jones' nephew, and his involvement in the underground world of drugs and sex in New York in the 80s. This section contains several gorgeously choreographed duets. The third part, Ambros: The Emigrant, is not about a real person but about the nature of trauma and memory.

Keep reading... Show less
Breaking Stereotypes
Seyi Oluyole uses dance to radically change children's lives in Lagos. Via DreamCatchersDance on YouTube.

In Ikoradu, a part of Lagos, Nigeria, "The parents here don't believe in education," says Seyi Oluyole, in a video for Great Big Story. "They just want their kids to just sell stuff." Instead of watching the cycle continue, Oluyole took it upon herself to change these children's lives in a radical way.

Her method of connecting with them? Dance.

Keep reading... Show less
The Creative Process
Shankman on the set of 2007's Hairspray. Photo by Daniel James, courtesy Shankman

Adam Shankman came into the spotlight in 2007 when he choreographed and directed the movie-musical Hairspray and made his first appearances on the "So You Think You Can Dance" judging panel. But he was already more than a decade into his career as a choreographer and budding director. Today, Shankman is a Hollywood mainstay who has worked on scores of movies, TV shows and commercials, including dance classics like the Step Up franchise, which he produced. Next up: Directing the film What Men Want, which opens in January.

He recently spoke to Dance Magazine about his path to Hollywood and why the dance studio remains his favorite place.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance History
Paul Taylor flying high in 1957. Photo by Radford Bascome, Courtesy DM Archives

The news of Paul Taylor's death two weeks ago at the age of 88 has sparked innumerable tributes to the choreographer. We were inspired to delve into Dance Magazine's extensive photo archives to see what images of the late modern dance titan were hiding there. We present a baker's dozen of our favorites from over the years.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Voices
Lucinda Childs' DANCE. Photo by Sally Cohn

Ten years ago I stood outside the New 42nd Street Studios near Times Square in New York City, freezing in a very long line, waiting to audition for Lucinda Childs. I thought about leaving after an announcement was made that dancers who did not register, like me, would not be seen. Today, I am on a plane home from Abu Dhabi where the Lucinda Childs Dance Company just gave its final performance of her 1979 masterpiece, DANCE, at The Performing Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi. Lucinda will be the first to say that she asked to see all the dancers waiting outside in 2008, and I am certainly grateful to my 24 year-old self for sticking around to see what would happen.

DANCE is the first piece of Lucinda's choreography I learned and it was the first piece that her newly-formed company performed. The process of learning the work presented its challenges; there were tears and much needed pep talks from family and castmates. But I fell in love with DANCE, too. For close to ten years, I was fortunate to dance this evening-length work all over the world. I'm not entirely sure I'm ready to say good-bye.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

You Might Also Like

477,305 likes

Sponsored

Viral Videos

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox

Sponsored

Giveaways