Weak Muscles?

Thank you for providing such a wealth of information as it pertains to dance and the human body.  I have a daughter, soon to be 12, that has been dancing since around the age of 4. She is quick to learn and quite coordinated.   Ballet class is a challenge for her.  She is not nearly where she needs to be in the areas of strength and endurance.  She is very slender and although has a “dancer’s body” with well defined muscles, her muscles are weak.  Is there anything that can be done outside of dance class to assist with muscle strength and endurance – last year she danced 4 hours per week, this year she will be dancing 6 hours per week. Outside of dance, she doesn’t do anything athletic.

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Are there exercises that can be done at home to increase her muscle strength and endurance? Any dietary recommendations that can help with building muscle? She has fallen behind her classmates (in ballet only) and her teachers are very surprised that, despite her years of training, she has not developed the strength and endurance typical of girls her age. 

Thanks for your help!
Kathleen

Great question, Kathleen!

I love it that you are thinking about all the markers of health instead of just the physical ways to go about increasing muscle strength. I have a daughter with Hashimoto disease (a very common form of thyroid problems) that was discovered when she was 12 – and only because I knew something was off in her health. Now, I’m not suggesting that your daughter has a thyroid or another metabolic syndrome, rather I’m encouraging all of us to look at the intricate balance of nutrition and physiological health to our physical strength and health.

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Stretching, Assessment, Pinkie Balls & Hamstrings

I received some great questions from Lynn and have imbedded my responses below.

Hi Deborah,

I have a few questions and was wondering the best way to go.  I have the Essential anatomy course for dancers and just started to dig into it a little bit because I bought it in the summer and just had my first baby in December so its been crazy.  Congratulations!!! I really want to learn more and more about anatomy and dancers. I never took anatomy at all and it has just been all my dance education along the way from anything I do know.  So thank you for doing this.  Its just hard because there is so so much information and I want to be able to answer a question if a kid asks me.  So I do things in small stages.  But was wondering I came from the erra of bouncing in stretching and then we moved in the static stretching.  Now I do understand dynamic because I do warm most of my classes with a jumping and getting things moving but then we usually go into stretches and based on what you were saying I was wondering if you have something like a sample of a class run down to get the kids warmed up properly for the 20min or so and then we go into technique, center work and across floor or center combos depends on the class.

Try warming them up in a cardiovascular fashion, jumping jacks, running, galloping, etc.  for about 5 minutes (which you are already doing) …. no stretching…. then go into class whether that is barre or modern warmup.  

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Turf Toes and Hip Strain

I’m going to answer 2 questions – one at the top of the leg with a hip injury and another at the foot.  Especially with foot injuries there is such potential for compensation and shifting your weight subtly in order to continue walking and dancing and so I encourage everyone to pay attention to the small tweaks and strains that can occur!

First question….

I have a 12-year old daughter who is very serious about her dance development and who has been concerned about pain in her big toe.  While rehearsing for a show she hit her toe on her leg and has been complaining ever since.  We have been to the doctor and have been given advice (such as Advil) but her pain continues.  I’ve noticed that her toe is moving slightly towards the other toes while her bone remains fixed in its position.  There must be some exercises she can do to strength that area.  

Thank you,  a concerned Mom

It sounds like your daughter has had a ‘turf toe’ injury.  It is common in football players (and dancers) and usually is caused by either stubbing or jamming the toe as your daughter did.  The challenge is in the recovery.  The original injury creates soft tissue inflammation and that is why your doctor suggested doing an anti-inflammatory such as Advil.  The challenge is your daughter has continued to be on her feet, both just walking and dancing, and often the joint doesn’t heal fully enough and is the cause of her continued pain.

You didn’t say how long ago the injury was but if her toe continues to have pain the doctor may choose to put her in a walking boot temporarily in order to give the joint a rest and allow it to heal.  Icing 2 or 3 times a day along with other anti-inflammatory efforts would continue while she is in the boot.

As far as the big toe starting to move towards the other toes – you are right about thinking something needs to be strengthened.  We want to prevent what sounds like the start of a bunion pattern – and you do that by strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the feet.

If you click HERE this will take you to a blog post where I have a short video on how to strengthen the intrinsic foot muscles.  Tell her that if she cramps when she is doing it – it simply means she has found the weak intrinsics and with continued practice they will improve!

The primary concern is that she gets on top of this injury – instead of allowing it to become chronic.  Bottom line – her big toe needs not to hurt!

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Three months ago I was doing a heel stretch in one of the classes I assist in and my hip made a big cracking noise.  It started to hurt but not that bad.  But it still hurts today and I don’t know why.  I sit in a straddle stretch and it hurts my hip when I stretch.  Also, when I do a barre stretch or sit in my splits it hurts.  Do you recommend any stretches to help it get back to normal? 

Thanks, Meghan

Meghan, sometimes muscle strains can take a really long time to heal – and I’m not exactly sure what happened when you hear the hip crack or pop three months ago.  It’s possible that you strained either an inner thigh muscle and/or the deep hip flexor (iliopsoas).

I would encourage you to stretch gently and consistently for these two muscle groups.  Instead of sitting in the straddle position which creates discomfort try standing up and placing one leg on a chair and stretch the inner thigh muscles one side at a time.

For the iliopsoas muscle I would have you do one of the stretches outlined in the video clip below.  Remember to breathe and move gentle and easily – listening to your body – stretching should never be painful!

Do your stretching when your muscles are warm – after class is a good time.  Teachers and assistant teachers have to be careful about their demonstrating in class when you aren’t really warmed up!

Hope this helps…. and remember to comment below, especially if you have had similar injuries please share what you did that helped!

Warmest regards,

Deborah

“Education is the key to injury prevention”

 

Too Young for Splits Training?

I have a question just came up regarding splits and young dance students. When is it safe to start doing splits with young children, and why? Most of us start at about 7 years of age, for a variety of reasons. None of this is based on any research we can find. Also mentioned was the fact that in gymnastics, splits are started earlier.

Do you have any opinion on this, or would you be able to head me in the right direction to find the science we need to back up our practice?  I very much appreciate your time and consideration. Thank you so much!

When to start stretching?

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This is a great question, Nancy!  And you are right there isn’t much research on this.  What we know is that children’s bodies generally begin to lose flexibility as they come into their adolescent years. Being introduced to effective stretching at an early age will certainly help set in the practice of working their joints through a full range of motion and understanding that a strong and flexible body is what you want – especially as you age!

When I was teaching very young children (5-7 years of age) my focus was on building better coordination and control over their body.  Are they developing the ability to balance on one leg?  Do they understand what efficient alignment is?  Can they follow your verbal directions? (Beyond just doing what you are demonstrating and not paying any attention to what is happening in their own body)

These are all important pieces of the stretching puzzle by teaching young dancers learn how to stretch safely and effectively.  These attributes are more important than a strict age designation for a formalized stretching program.

There are 5 and 6 year old students who are very coordinated and can follow directions easily and who know where their knees are facing, or if their knees are bent.  Those students are the best candidates for more focused split training.

So let’s talk about one could approach the splits with very young children.  I’m going to stick with talking about the front splits for this post.  In the front splits there are 2 primary muscle areas that are involved. The front leg needs hamstring flexibility and the back leg needs hip flexor flexibility.

Stretch hamstrings and hip flexors individually

These 2 areas are key for good alignment and separating the 2 areas and working on flexibility training can start as early as the child shows the appropriate coordination as talked about above.  What I mean by this is I would do hamstring stretches separate from practicing the splits.  Sitting on the floor where they can see whether or not their legs are straight and then rolling back on their pelvis (slumping) then sitting up straight and tall is a good quick test to see where they are with their hamstring flexibility.  They should be able to sit on their sits bones ideally without a lot of strain at the hamstrings or bending their knees.

Even with the younger students I like teaching them how to put their leg up on a low chair or stool and doing single leg hamstring stretching.Picture-2  By doing one leg at a time even a young student will become aware if one leg is tighter – and can be guided to do more stretches on the tighter side.  For the student who can go for extra stretch you can have them sit on a yoga block or cushion and extend one leg forward while having the other one bent.

Lunge stretching for the hip flexors can be done in the runners lunge position as well as in a standing lunge, or one with your foot up on a low surface and leaning forward.  If they are able to go for more range in the hip flexors have them sit on the yoga block or cushion (or

P1018459-150x150anything that gets them slightly off the floor) and extend the back leg while keeping the front leg bent.

What I would NEVER do is to push a young students legs straight or physically adjust them too much (meaning with pressure or pushing) them into a specific position.  You run a risk that by doing so you are placing them in a position that their body isn’t ready for. While the stretching practices that some gymnastic coaches give to their young students can be successful (like taking the leg and passively stretching the leg) it can also be painful and potentially stretches ligaments and joint structures in ways that can be injurious.  (Image on right is a no no!)

A young dancer will automatically keep themselves out of painful stretching – and should be encouraged to not do anything that is painful.  We need to teach them to listen to their bodies from a very early age.

I like using props to help them move into practicing splits – starting them sitting up on an appropriate surface and stretching long and straight the front and back legs.  This way they can release their weight into the stretch without putting themselves in a funky or weird position.  (Think of someone reaching to the floor awkwardly with one or both of the legs bent because they don’t have enough flexibility to easily put their hands on the ground – not an effective way to stretch!)  I’m sitting on low stool in the picture below to stretch both the front and back legs equally while keeping my body upright.  I am not in favor of over-stretching for the very young dancer.  Generally, they have not developed enough strength to be put in such an extreme position.

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Bottom line is they need an adequate amount of flexibility in both the hip flexors and hamstrings before they ever try a true split.  Working on the different muscle groups individually, though, can start as soon as they are able to work with guidance in effective stretching practices.

play-200x300I’m not sure if my following statement is a true one – but it appears to me that children are less flexible than they used to be. I wonder if there is a correlation between less time spent in playing on the playground and in the yard as many of us teachers grew up doing.  In a nutshell, less physical activity and physical play going hand in hand with tighter and less flexible young people.

Good stretching practices are important to set into early in life.  While I don’t think it is imperative that a young dancer has to have their splits by age 8 or 9, I do know that as they become pre-teens and teenagers they decrease their injury potential by keeping their muscles flexible and strong as they grow into their adult bodies.  And of course… the same is true as we mature into and beyond our 20’s.

And with that thought…. I’m off to stretch!

Hoping everyone has a wonderful holiday break!

Warmest regards,

Deborah

“Education is the key to injury prevention”

 

 

Stretches for the side popping and snapping hip

In the last post we saw a good example of a popping and snapping hip and I talked about the possible reasons for a popping/snapping hip.  Many of you appreciated the post and have asked me to talk about the hip pops that happen in the front of the hip.  That’s been duly noted and is on the list for a future topic to look at in the Dancing Smart newsletter.

Today let’s look at some stretches that you could do to work with the side hip pops.  Let’s start with stretching out the back of the hip.  There are many different ways to work with the turnout and gluteal muscles, and I have shown you recently one of my favorite sitting stretches.  Let’s add another stretch into the mix and see if it works better for any of you.

Picture-1-300x261  Begin lying down on the floor on your back, and crossing one leg over the other.  Lift your other knee up by grasping around the back of the thigh.  Now gently press the knee of the crossed leg away from your body (that would be the right leg in this picture) as you bring the left thigh slowly closer to your chest.

This is an active stretch.  You are actively contracting the turnout muscles on the right side, while you are stretching them by bringing the legs closer to your chest.  In essence, this is a variation on the sitting stretch that was demonstrated a few weeks ago.

It’s good to have many ways of stretching so you can figure out the best ways for you.  We aren’t all built the same – and what works for one StandingTFL2person – doesn’t always for the next.

Stretching the muscles on the outside of the hip (the abductor) can be easily done inthe standing position.  The photo on the right shows the most popular way of stretching those lateral muscles.  I also encourage dancers to use a tennis ball or pinkie ball against the wall to release and massage those often tight muscles.

 

The muscle that usually needs stretching the most is that all important but now always acknowledged  turn-in muscle, the tensor fascia lata or TFL.  Curiously, this week I assisted 5 dancers in getting a good release and stretch of their TFL muscles and it was magical when they came back to standing on one leg.  They felt like they could stand up more easily and effortlessly and access their turnout muscles without strain.

To stretch the TFL – lets use the popular iliopsoas lunge stretch and then shift from stretching the front of the hip to feeling the stretch towards the outside of the front of the hip.  The picture on the left is stretching the front, and then as the dancers turn towards their front leg they can feel the stretch moving to the side and are now stretching the TFL muscle.  If you don’t feel a stretch in that area – no problem – typically means you aren’t tight there!  But if you do feel a strongish stretch it would be a good variation to add into your stretching repertoire.

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These muscles aren’t going to change their tightness overnight – but you’ll know you are on the right track if you stretch (especially, the TFL) stand back up and see if there is any difference in your ‘popping’ action at the hip.  It will be a softer clunk – or perhaps not pop, click, snap, at all!  (Hmm…all of a sudden I have a sudden desire for rice krispies:)

I hope everyone has a glorious Thanksgiving week.  I am thankful and appreciative of having such a warm and welcoming dance community – thank you for being a part of my life!

Deborah

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul”  Martha Graham

Getting higher extensions!

Today’s posting looks at another way to help get your extensions higher and développés even smoother and more controlled.  It has to do with the wonderful iliopsoas muscle that you hear so many anatomists and body workers talking about!

I know I’m someone that always looks at this muscle carefully when I am assessing someone’s standing alignment.  It is such a major postural muscle and so strongly influences how the pelvis sits on the legs that deserves some extra attention.  When overly tight it can pull the lower back into a swayback. When it is overly weak it makes it hard to get the leg much over 90 degrees.  The quadriceps which also are hip flexor muscles like the iliopsoas (or psoas as many people shorten it to) are working hard, but they simply don’t have the leverage to get the leg up as high as what is necessary for dance today.

I was recently in Seattle working with students from the Allegro Performing Arts Academy and showed them a way to inconspicuously strengthen their iliopsoas while sitting in school waiting for class to begin.  By the way…. these students were wonderful!  So curious, open, and willing to work hard to improve their technique by understanding how the body really works!

The picture below shows them sitting on the front edge of their chairs, with their arms folded in front, keeping weight on both sits bones (or ischial tuberosities as they are called)  Without shifting backwards on the pelvis, or over to one hip they lifted one leg up and then lowered it to just touch the toe to the ground before repeating it 10 – 15 times.  Didn’t take very long to feel that very deep ‘tired’ feeling deep in the front of the hip.  That’s like practicing lifting the leg into the beginning stages of a développé before extending the leg (of course without dropping the knee… at least that’s the goal:)

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It’s such an easy way to work strengthening the iliopsoas, and then you can simply swivel around and do a sitting lunge stretch to release the tightness form the iliopsoas.

A different way of strengthening was shown in a previous post and I’d like to repost that video in the newer format for all those who had trouble opening it.  You can use a theraband wrapped around the thighs and then slowly working to come more upright to simulate doing an extension to the front.  Of course the more you are upright – the harder it is!  Remember to slightly turnout the leg when practicing these as well as doing them in parallel.  It won’t take long…. just 3 or 4 weeks for you to see and sense improvement in the control and height of your extension.

Have a great week!

Deborah

“Education is the key to injury prevention”

 

Working with Overweight Dancers

This week’s newsletter tackles the very sensitive and tricky topic of overweight dancers.  A reader writes…

You may have already discussed this issue in the body series but I just wondered if you had anything specific on over-weight dancers.  It is so tricky discussing weight issues with students and parents that I thought if there was a general article that I could send to all students regarding the problems with joints, etc. that it would be better coming from you or another source so that they would know it is not just me having this issue.

I worry so much about these girls who love to dance and want to perform full out but just don’t realize how large they are.  I wish the parents could indiscretely put them on “diets” by planning meals, portions and grocery shopping lists without even mentioning the word “diet”.  I would appreciate anything that would help get my point across in a good way.

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Weight is such a tricky topic.  I’m going to start on safer ground and first talk briefly about the ramifications of extra weight on the body.  The weight of our bodies is carried through the boney skeleton and of course pass through the joints.  It makes sense that carrying 10 or 15 extra pounds is going to put more of a working challenge on the body, but Dr. Jonathon Cluett estimates it increases the forces by 3 on the joints. Meaning if you are 15 pounds overweight you will be putting 45 extra pounds of force through the knee joint with every step you take.

If the overweight dancer has good posture and alignment they will absorb the extra force better than if they have poor alignment.  What I often see in the younger dancer is weak abdominals, a anteriorly tipped pelvis giving them a slight swayback.  In this scenario the knees are more vulnerable to injury and adding the extra weight increases potential for muscular strain and ligamentous injury.

There is research showing that being overweight leads to arthritis at an earlier age.  You want your BMI (Body Mass Index) to be in a normal range.  Here is a link to a BMI calculator to get an approximate measurement.  Exercise is essential to the health of the body – and dance class is a good place to develop extra strength and flexibility, but not necessarily increase your cardiovascular fitness.  I’m not sure that kids today are biking and running and playing on the playground in the same way we did 20 or 30 years ago.  We are becoming a more sedentary society and it is showing up in the increasing numbers of injuries in our children who only move in significant ways during the hour or two of PE class (if they haven’t already cut gym from the curriculum)

The self-esteem of the child who is overweight is a huge problem.  They begin to define themselves as someone who is overweight and if their parents are also overweight may decide at an early age that they are doomed to always packing on extra pounds.  It’s really hard to work with that situation – when the way the family eats.. and exercises… or not… can be at the foundation of our young dancer’s weight problems.

So what to do?  If the dancer is old enough (10 or 11) they may be able to start making their own choices about food.  When the studio owner is vocal about healthy dancing practices they could choose to have a nutritionist come talk to the students all together about good eating practices.  I love having outside people come in to talk  to my own students because it gives me an opportunity to talk with my students at the next class about what they heard.  It allows for a good group conversation or even some one on one conversations without making it seem like you are targeting them specifically.  Also, the majority of  parents will appreciate having a studio wanting to create healthy dancers!

Even a younger child needs to decide that they want to lose weight because they believe it will give them something positive in return.  So many of us who carry a few more pounds that what is ideal use food to give us something…  a feeling of security, a ‘sweet’ moment, a break, a reward. I believe in stead of focusing on not eating sweets or bread or whatever might be your over-indulgence it makes much more sense to focus on what you can give yourself in other ways.

For example, when I get to feeling overwhelmed I tend to overeat.  When I stop to breathe or to take a short 10 minute walk around the block, or take the time to make a cup of tea… any of those activities will act to calm me down.  I have a choice about what strategies I use to alter my emotional well-being (or lack of) The challenge is it takes me planning out alternate strategies before I go on automatic pilot and reach for the muffin or cookie or whatever is around to placate my overwhelm.  Not always easy.

The older I get and the more in control I feel about my weight the more I focus on my internal dialogue – the thoughts that I say to myself all the time.  I’m going to share a quicktime clip that is part of the Inner Dance of Success Weight Loss Program.  The program focuses less on specific dietary advice and instead gives lots of options and choices for different strategies for weight loss – starting with changing your thinking.

This clip is on how to use affirmations (which are simply the thoughts we say to ourselves all the time) in a more positive fashion. It is a 5 minute clip and make take a minute to load.  I’m always interested in your comments and your stories.. Do you have a way that you address weight challenges in your studio?  If so…. please share with all of us!

Enjoy!

And remember to send me your suggestions and comments on what you think I should focus on or add onto the Body Series website and Dancing Smart Newsletter and you could win a free product!

Deborah

“Education is the key to injury prevention”

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My Favorite Turnout Stretch

Today’s video blog shows you my new favorite way of stretching the turnout muscles.  No floor needed… just a chair:)  Makes it easy for a dancer to get a quick stretch in while at school or sitting at the desk.

Last week’s post on testing turnout got some great comments from dance teachers that you’ll want to check out! It’s great to hear from dancers ‘in the field’ so keep those comments coming!

Click the image below and you’ll be taken to the 4 minute video clip.

If you have questions please send them to questionsfordeb@gmail.com

See you next week when I explain the details of the tried and true clamshell strengthener!


Turnout Stretch 

Strengthening the feet

My daughter is nine and this year has started to complain of heel pain and sometimes knee pain. So I researched and have come to the conclusion that she has fallen arches. I did a water foot test and her arches are not flat or low but when you just look at her feet they look flat. When she points she has an o.k. line. I would also say her ankles over pronate . If I ask her to not let her ankles roll her feet don’t look as flat. So I guess I’m asking what I can do for her at home to strengthen her ankles before they move her in the fall to pre-pointe. She is moving quickly up and I want to prevent any injury I can. I have read of other dancers with this same problem and they talked about exercises. Do you have any suggestions? One more thing her teacher said no flip flops and very supportive shoes…

Thanks, Tracy

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Great question, Tracy!  First, for those who don’t know what the water foot test is… you put a small amount of water in a shallow pan, enough to cover the bottom fully, then place one foot, then the other,  in the pan getting the bottom of the feet wet and then stand on a flattened brown paper bag or other nonwhite paper.  Once you step off the paper you’ll see an imprint of your foot on the paper.

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The foot on the left describes a normal foot, the one in the middle a flat foot, and the one one the right a high arched foot.

Having pronated feet would look like the image on the left from the back.  Looking at the heel cord at the back of the ankle is a better way of seeing the rolling in of the foot.  The image on the right is a normal looking heel cord.  (It is the Achilles heel that you are looking at)

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To strengthen her ankles, start slowly and simply by standing on one foot, in good alignment (weight even on the 3 points of the foot – not rolling in). Start standing for 1 minute, and work your way up to 3 minutes.  Toss a ball between your hands or turn your head and do port de bras as your standing on the one leg to challenge your balance.  It is such a simple exercise, practicing balancing – and the rewards are so great!  Balance gets better through practice.

Then have her practice standing on one leg and doing a very small demi plié, again without rolling in.  Can she do 8 repetitions without tiring?  It goes without saying that she’ll want to make sure she’s in good alignment.  Not tucking under her pelvis, or moving forward onto the balls of the feet during the descent, etc.  While she is doing the single leg pliés she should make sure the weight is staying even on the 3 points of the feet (pad of the big toe, little toe, and heel) and the knee is being directed over the foot.  Any strain felt in the knee area is a clue that her alignment is off.

Those 2 simple exercises – will create a strong foundation for her to work off of – so when she begins working her rélevés her balance and alignment will be rock solid.

Deborah

“Education is the key to injury prevention”


Weak Rélevé

I got your name from a dancer/friend when I asked her a question regarding a current ‘disability’ I have that affects my dance.

First, I am a sixty year old male with a history of osteoarthritis and two joint replacements (one hip, one knee).  I also social dance 5-6 nights a week……and I am actually a good dancer (mostly because of musicality and I am precise/gentle at leading)……I sometimes tease that I recently won an award for being ‘The Best Male Dancer in the Greater Seattle Metro Area over-60 and with TWO OR MORE Artificial Joints”  (small competitive class!).

My most recent issue:  foot/ankle surgery in late December09 to tie ruptured post-tibial tendon into adjacent tendon…..they also did a couple of calcaneus bone cuts and one inserted bone graft to facilitate better foot alignment… sounds pretty mucked up but I have been dancing consistently with ONE noticeable (to me) impediment:

I have trouble taking weight on the ball-of-foot of a pointed foot…..I can hold my weight well enough to get in a chaine turn (heel just kisses ground…..but does not collapse halfway thru)……but I can only hold the weight so far with heel is near the ground……I want to be able to absorb weight at point of max extension and execute a cushioned articulation (sorry I do not know the tech words better) down to my heel…….if I could do a MOON-WALK…..I think I would be fine.

Currently working wth a heavy rubber band at that max-extension to see if that will help……also raising to max extension two-legged and then trying to shift weight to injured foot for the down (eccentric?) movement.

Related, I tend to ‘claw’ my toes related to being up on ball of foot…..I think because my ‘long’ tendons are trying to compensate for ‘short’ tendon weakness……anyway dancing around on clawed toes for a few hours IS pretty
tiring…..

Overall, I am in great health, not overweight…..but if you have any ideas for rehab, I would REALLY appreciate it!      John

I’m curious, John, if you had your hip and knee surgery on the same side.  (and what side does the ankle surgery line up with?)  When there are too many injuries on one side I start to suspect a leg length difference:)

You’re doing the right stuff with the theraband to start to strengthen the calf muscles again, and I like the slow descent lowering from releve on the side that had the surgery.  If you are doing toe risers with clawed toes, though, (called rélevés in dance language) then you aren’t getting as much out of that exercise as you could.

This is what I would suggest.  Start working the bottom of the foot with a pinkie ball.  Stand and roll your foot on the ball to release as much tension on the bottom of the foot as you can.  It will feel tight – but good:)

Then I want you to stand on one foot and place the other one behind you as in the picture below.  You won’t have as wide of a position as the dancer demonstrates.  You are stretching the underside of the toes and know that you won’t really need to bend your knee much to get a good stretch. To get more stretch you bend your back knee.

An even simpler way to stretch the underside of your toes would be to stand with both feet in parallel and then slowly bend one knee, lifting the heel up slightly as you keep the toes straight and long.  Then switch feet.  You are in slow motion practicing a ‘moon walk’ variation but without traveling:)

When you practice your toe risers – only go as far as you can keep the toes straight.  The minute they start to claw – stop – stretch them out and lower back down.

Time will tell how much change you can give to this area.  After all… you are going to need to continue to train in order to keep your title of The Best Male Dancer in the Greater Seattle Metro Area over-60!

Best regards,

Deborah
“Education is the key to injury prevention”