Friday, August 5, 2011

Dance Moms

The Cast of the New Series Dance Moms
The new lifetime reality series Dance Moms, showcases a dance studio, its dancers, and of course, their mothers.  The cameras follow the talented young dancers and their mothers to the studio and to their weekly competitions.  The show is the typical reality television show, filled with conflict, mothers out for blood, and a demanding dance teacher in black.  Once the viewer digs beneath the drama and fighting, he or she finds very talented young dancers working hard night after night.  However, all of this hard work is bound to take a toll on the young dancers.

The show depicted Brooke, a thirteen year old dancer going to see a doctor concerning an ailment in her hip.  The young girl was very mature in making the decision to see a doctor about her pain.  Young dancers should take notice of this mature behavior and see a doctor about pain, especially in their feet. Dancers should also alert their parents and teachers of their pain so they do not further injure themselves. Some common problems to look out for include Achilles tendinitis, sesamoidits, and plantar fasciitis.

ACHILLES TENDONITIS is the inflammation of the Achilles tendon, which attaches the calf muscle to the heel bone. Achilles tendonitis is first noticeable as a mild pain during and after exercise that gradually worsens with continued use. Running and jumping generally increase this pain, and feet may feel weak during repeated relevés and fast allegros. The tendon will often feel stiff until calf muscles warm up. Sometimes there is a point about an inch and a half above the heel bone that is tender to the touch. Achilles tendonitis is caused by tight and/or weak calf muscles, jumping without being fully warmed up, chronic rolling in and not putting heels down in successive relevés or when landing jumps.

If left untreated, inflammation of the tendon can irritate ankles and may cause a partial tendon tear or rupture. A rupture is an emergency requiring surgery. If the tendon ruptures, you won’t be able to stand or walk on the affected leg. Rehabilitating from a tear or rupture takes much longer than treatment for tendonitis.

To avoid injury or irritating an existing injury, maintain both flexibility and strength in calf muscles. Warm up calf muscles with ankle circles and by sitting with legs extended straight in front of you and pointing and flexing feet 30 times or more. Release tension from the calf muscles by stretching after every time you dance. Assess foot mechanics, taking care to put heels down during demi pliés, before taking off for and when landing from jumps. Stretching the calf muscle regularly will help to break the habit of popping heels.

SESAMOIDITIS is inflammation of the sesamoid bones, or the bones that move the big toe downwards.  It occurs on the bottom of the foot behind the big toe. It is caused by excess force on the bones or sudden upward movement of the toe.  Sesamoiditis may be treated with anti-inflammatory medication, cortisone injections, taping, or orthotics.

 PLANTAR FASCIITIS is a painful foot condition caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of connective tissue between the heel bone and the ball of the foot. When you walk, run and dance, this tissue transmits your weight through the foot. Plantar fasciitis causes pain on the bottom of the foot close to the heel. Discomfort is most acute when trying to walk first thing in the morning or after prolonged sitting. Many patients with plantar fasciitis also develop a heel spur—a protrusion of bone that can be seen in an X-ray jutting from the heel bone.

Pronation (rolling in), very high arches, sudden weight gain and tight Achilles tendons can all cause plantar fasciitis. Less common causes are poorly fitting shoes or running without warming up.
Left unattended, an inflamed plantar fascia will continue to pull on the bone spur, making it larger and more painful. Continued spur growth could require surgery.

To prevent plantar fasciitis, if you were born with high arches, regularly massage the bottoms of feet with a tennis ball. Maintain strong and flexible feet and ankles through daily exercises with an exercise band. When dancing, keep weight equally divided between the pads of the big and little toes and the heel. Also, your toes shouldn’t grip the floor when standing or in demi-pointe. Try the footroller depicted above, available at our product store.

If you are experiencing any bad pain in your feet or ankles or think you may be suffering from one of the conditions listed above, call our office at 419-423-1888 or visit our website to request an appointment.

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