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:)


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!


“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.


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.  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 instead 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.


“Education is the key to injury prevention”

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

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


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.


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)


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.


“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

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,

“Education is the key to injury prevention”

Développés – how to strengthen

First of all I would like to thank you for the great website and your great blog!

I am a 19-year-old ballerina and have been doing ballet recreationally since I was 5. A couple of years ago I decided to take it more seriously and to train more hours. I have three questions and I would really appreciate it if you had the time to answer them. The first one is a rather short one: How can I prevent Achilles tendonitis, especially as I have noticed that I pop my ankle more often, which I didn’t use to do as much before (it doesn’t hurt).

The two remaining questions have to do with each other: As I have been training more now, I have been working on my développé, they aren’t that bad, but not really outstanding: I can do about 100 degrees but I really wish to get it higher. However it seems that it is not only the muscles that are making it harder to improve, but also a popping in the front of the hip when LOWERING my leg after a développé and sometimes when raising the leg, too. As I noticed that, I kept stretching the iliopsoas muscle before développés and battements, it got better but it still pops and keeps me from doing my best (although it doesn’t hurt, my leg feels like “not free”!).

Could it be another muscle that needs to be strengthened and stretched? How can I get rid of that popping and improve my développés at the same time?

Thanks a lot for taking the time to read my letter!

Great questions, Liz! Let’s start with the easier one first. If your ankle is popping more, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are on your way to developing Achilles tendonitis – but it does make me wonder what’s happening in your standing alignment. Evaluate honestly if the weight is staying balanced between the front and back of the foot – are you over turning out at the feet in first position – and can you do a demi plié and keep the anterior tibialis tendon (the one at the front of the ankle) during the descent of the plié. Check those 3 areas and correct them as they may be creating some muscle imbalance.

Stretching is key for the Achilles tendon – and while most do the traditional lunge calf stretch, I prefer putting my foot over a thick book, and then stepping forward with the other leg to do a modified lunge. You don’t have to step very far forward to get a super stretch of the calf muscles. Also do this also with the back knee just barely bending to place the stretch down towards the tendon. Both variations are important.

Onto développés.

Many dancers aren’t aware of the importance of a strong iliopsoas to their extensions and développés. When you are lifting the leg to the front there is a point above 90 degrees where the quads are less effective and the iliopsoas becomes more important for a gorgeous high extension.

I’m posting a quicktime movie of an iliopsoas strengthening exercise. You will place a theraband around the thighs and then bring the knee towards the chest.. You can also do straight leg legs or développés. The more upright you are by moving from your elbows to your hands, the harder. Do these exercises with the leg slightly turned out leg. It is a challenging exercise but you will be quite happy with the results, I promise! Then stretch the iliopsoas afterwards. I’ll be curious if your ‘popping’ will get better after balancing out the strength to flexibility of the all important iliopsoas muscle.

This clip is taken from my new Essential Anatomy: A Multimedia Course for Dancers and Teachers

I’m putting it all together as we speak – and they will be ready to order (along with some very special bonuses) next week – for sure! I have put together over 3 hours of quicktime movie clips (along with an outline and study guide) that bring anatomy to life – talking and illustrating important muscles, concepts and what to do… in order to dance smart and teach smart. After clicking the link the movie will open up and take just a moment to load.

psoas strengther with theraband

Until next week!


“Education is the key to injury prevention”

Penché Tips

Summer is right around the corner and I know that I need to continue dancing. I am going to take a few classes here and there but I won’t be able to take them everyday like I usually do at school. (performing arts) Is that OK? I mean I guess I could do a barre in my bedroom and it wouldn’t hurt anything right? I would really love to progress and gain more flexibility and strength but I am a little scared of pulling a muscle or something. Do you have any tips on how to keep your body warm? I know jumping jacks, a few lunges and things like that but how do you know when you’re REALLY warm. Especially when you have longer legs like I do.

Another thing do you have any advice on “six o clock” penchés and tilts?
Thanks, Angelise

Great questions, Angelise! Summers are a great time to cross train and work in ways that you can’t during the regular school year. If you have the access to a pool, you could increase your cardiovascular fitness through swimming or water walking (a form of jogging in the pool). Biking as hard as you can for a minute and then pulling back is a form of interval training. Biking instead of running is easier on the dancer’s body.

Doing a barre in your room is a good idea. You can work slowly and carefully, paying attention to the weight on your feet, keeping the weight evenly divided between the 3 points of the foot. It would be great to do a barre without holding onto ‘a barre’ or ‘dresser’. I wouldn’t worry so much about pulling a muscle because you’ll be paying close attention to what you are doing, how it feels.

You ask a good question about being warm. Usually in the summer it takes less time to warm the muscles up. A few jumping jacks or jogging in place, should get the body going unless you are working in an air-conditioned room, then it may take a bit longer. Some dancers will feel they are almost at a light sweat. That never happened for me… but there was a sense of inner warmness that I would feel. It’s hard to put into words, so I would simply pay attention to how your body feels and you will learn what is ‘warm’ for you.

Penchés and tilts require the hardest type of contraction of a muscle, which is an eccentric contraction. The hamstrings on your supporting leg are stretching while you are slowly lowering.

My main tip is to practice keeping the weight placed between the front and back of the foot as you are lowering in your penché. Many dancers fall back too much onto their heel as they are lowering. Keeping even weight will help you keep the arabesque shape and the abdominals engaged as you lower.

The depth of the penché will be influenced by your hamstring flexibility. Once you have reached the range of the hamstrings you’ll start to bend the upper body forward – be aware of that and only go as far down as you can maintain your arabesque line. With repeated focused practice you will improve!


“Education is the key to injury prevention”

Too old for pointe?

What is your feeling about adults (20’s and beyond) dancing on pointe?  Some people (dancers and teachers) feel that adults cannot be successful on pointe, and that, indeed, it is risky because of their “advanced age”.

I have a group of 30-45 year olds who do quite well, thank you very much.  They are strong, take many classes a week, and cross train with Pilates, etc. outside of ballet class.  These ladies are doing double pirouettes, some of them are doing fouetté turns, hops on pointe, etc.  They love dancing on pointe.

Are there any studies you know of that link additional risks associated with pointe work due solely to age?

I’d love to see the topic of myths and misconceptions about older dancers dealt with on your site, as well as tips for dancing safely as the years go by.

Thanks so much!


Great questions! Margot Fonteyn danced the role of Juliet at age 43.  Did she do it in her bare feet?  I think not☺ She did it in pointe shoes.

As is the case with most physical activities – how you do it  – is more important than what age you do it at.  I remember hearing when I was growing up that running will hurt your knees.  (tell that to the 69 year old woman who took up running and did her first marathon shortly after)

I also grew up with the idea that all dancers will get ugly feet and arthritis the longer they danced.

Why?  Because the majority of my teachers talked about their aching feet, I saw their huge bunions, and listened to their complaints of how their hips hurt!

Not a very pretty picture of aging dancers, is it?

Alignment and muscle balance are keys to optimal functioning in any chosen physical activity.  Your group of 30 – 45 year old dancers sound like smart dancers by cross training outside of dance class and maintaining a good relationship between strength and flexibility.

In fact, I would venture a guess that the older dancer is even more particular about their training over the late teen, early 20’s ballet dancer who feels more invincible and much less concerned about the physical effects of poor training – especially if they have accepted myths such as bunions are inevitable.  (Which they aren’t – sorry for my bluntness)

If your older dancers are paying attention to their alignment and proper training and conditioning for pointe work they can work as long as they choose to – or until other challenges such as osteoporosis might crop up.  On the other hand, continuing to dance is a great way to decrease the chances of osteoporosis along with good nutrition.

If they begin to have problems associated with doing pointe work they’ll handle it the same way as a younger dancer.  By checking out their alignment and technique first and then correcting any muscle weaknesses (Lisa Howell’s, The Perfect Pointe book is a fantastic resource for teachers and dancers.  You can purchase it through my website .

There are other interesting aspects to challenging yourself as you age.  The Berlin Aging Study looked at men and women over the age of 70.  This research was looking at how people feel about aging and comparing that to their vitality and resiliency.   Your older dancers (although not truly very old) are engaging in an activity that makes them feel younger and better about themselves!

In unpublished research based on the Berlin Aging Study, they found that people who feel younger are less likely to die than
those who don’t, given the same level of chronological age and equivalent physical health.

“Feeling positive about getting older may well be associated with remaining active and experiencing better health in old age.” “Thus, studies on self-perceptions of aging can contribute to our understanding of potential indicators of resilience in older adults and the aging self.”   (

Bottom line – continuing to dance is good for our bodies, mind and spirit!  Your dancers will know when to hang up their pointe shoes – and it doesn’t sound like it is quite yet!


“Education is the key to injury prevention”

PS:  Remember any order this month will receive a FREE copy of Tune Up Your Turnout:  A Dancer’s Guide or if you order an ebook or downloadable product, I will see a FREE copy of the 440 page Dancing Smart:  Tips to Improve your Technique

strengthening knees and second position plié

Dear Deb,

I lately struggle lots with my knees, especially when I do a plie type exercises in second position, this is in gym and dance classes. I have to admit I am 40, but have been dancing all my life.

Was wondering if you have any suggestions to strengthen my knees.



Great question, Lisel! Plié in second position requires a slow controlled action from the quadricep muscle. This means the lower part of the muscle is doing an eccentric contraction – it is lengthening at the same time it is controlling your descent. That is the hardest kind of contraction for a muscle.

The other interesting consideration is that dancers tend to turnout more in second position than they would in first or fifth position. It’s just easier to be in a wide position and turnout.

One of the easiest ways to easiest ways to train your quads for that movement is by placing a physioball (one of the large balls that you can sit on) behind you on the wall. Your feet are away from the wall and in parallel first position and you are leaning with slight weight against the ball.  Then you simply do some slow and smooth demi pliés.

Slow and smooth is key.  Once you can easily do 10 – 15 reps on 2 feet try doing 5 single leg demi’s.  It will really work your balance so start with really baby demi’s and not lowering very far.

You could also sit and put a 5 pound ankle weight on one leg.  Slowly extend to straight, and then slightly (and slowly) bend the knee (only 4-5 inches) and straighten it again.  Be careful not to lock back into the knees when you are straightening.

By doing reps at a smaller range, slowly and smoothly, you are focusing the work more intensely.  This should translate to better muscular control in your second position plies.

As always – make sure your feet are accurately placed in a turnout range that your hips dictate.  In other words don’t turn out farther in second position than how you would easily stand in first position.

Hope that helps!


PS:  remember the early bird special on the Science of Dance Training Summer conference is only until March 30th! Check it out by clicking here!

Recovering from injury

I am a 15 year old ballet student who hopes to pursue a career in dance. Right now I have an achilles tendon injury that requires passive healing, a lot of physical therapy and may take many months to heal. I have been off of dance for about 2 months now, and I’m having a very hard time coping with this rest period. Going from 15 hours of ballet a week to none has put me in a kind of “dance withdrawal.”. I am trying to keep in shape, but there is really no physical activity that compares to ballet for me, and I have a hard time finding the motivation to go to the gym. Do you have any reconmendations for keeping in physical shape (flexibility, strength, balance, core work, etc.) and also in a good mental state during periods of injury rehabilitation?

Thank you so much, your blog is a wonderful resource.

-Jackie B.

I’m so sorry to hear about your Achilles tendon injury. It is especially rough for someone like you who is used to being so active. I know your ankle is being taken care of with going to physical therapy, so we’ll focus on the right of your body ‘s well being.

I’d like you to first focus on the perspective that this is a good cross training opportunity for you. How is your cardiovascular strength? What about your upper body? That is an area that many women could improve – especially in these days of extreme athleticism and using your arms for support in contemporary choreography.

Those 2 areas along with core work with theraband or foam roller could easily be focused on during your rehab – even without going to the gym☺ (I don’t like the gym atmosphere and also prefer working out at home) I like using the kettle bell for my cardio. It’s amazing how much you work within just a minute. It’s a weight that has a handle on top and you swing it for between a minute and 2 minutes (I started at 30 secs) and then rest, walking around for a few minutes in between. You are doing interval training with this. Cardiovascular health is about the ability of your body to recover from stress.

I found a kettle bell demo on youtube that is better than most – although I will say that I do not ‘snap’ my knees or suggest that my dancers do as she is showing on this video. Bring them to straight, using the gluts and engaging the abdominals as you straighten your legs – but do it without snapping. Here’s the youtube link so you know what I’m talking about.

This time off from dance is a great time to be focusing on virtual rehearsals – using visualization to set new pathways from the brain to the muscles.

I’d like to tell you a fascinating story about Marilyn King, who was a two-time Olympic athlete and later a coach at the University of California. Her story beautifully demonstrates the power of mental rehearsing. She made the 1972 pentathlon team and placed 13th in the 1976 Olympics. She was determined to do even better at the 1980 Olympics and gave herself all of 1979 to train for the trials that would happen in the spring of 1980.

In November 1979, she was in a head-on car accident and suffered a severe back injury. Her friends and physicians felt her chances for competing in the Olympics had come to an end. She spent four months in bed, a daunting setback for anyone training for a physical competition. During those long months, Marilyn was determined to continue training and working in the only way she could, which was in her head. She went through every event in her minds eye and watched endless hours of the world’s best pentathlon athletes competing. Sometimes she watched them frame-by-frame.

When she was able to walk again, she went to the track and continued to train by envisioning herself going through each event successfully.

When it came time for the trials, she was better enough to compete and put herself through five grueling events—without having months of physical preparation, as the rest of the athletes had. She described moving almost as if in a dream, as she had rehearsed it so many times in her head during the past months. She placed second in the trials and went to the Olympics that summer.

Inspiring story, yes? She had a strong desire, focused only on what she wanted – cultivated by an emotional attitude that supported success—and took the actions she knew would optimize her performance, physically training when she was able and mentally training when she was not.

Elite athletes have long known about the power of mental rehearsing. Musicians and dancers are beginning to be more aware of the body/brain connection to their performance.

Watch the videos of your favorite dancers, put music on and go through barre, or other warm-ups… in your mind’s eye – not in real time. Imagine how good you are going to feel when you are back in class – and feel that way now!

What I know about healing is those who are able to maintain a positive attitude, imagining the best coming out of the situation, rather than the worst, are often the ones who heal the quickest as well.

Hope that helps – and best wishes for a speedy recovery!