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Hamstrings & Sore Sits-bones

Greetings!
I haven’t gotten to answer any questions over the past few weeks as I’ve had some special events such as spending time with Lisa Howell, the wonderful Australian dance physiotherapist who authored the Perfect Pointe Book and the Perfect Pointe System! Lisa and I then went off to the IADMS Conference (International Association for Dance Medicine and Science) where I got to meet – some of you!

I so appreciate learning and being inspired by all the good work that is happening in dance medicine from around the world. Thanks to all who stopped to introduce themselves to me!

Onto the questions of the week….

My question concerns soreness around the sits bones during lunges and straddle split stretches (both the kind where you face a wall and push yourself closer and where you lie on your back perpendicular to the wall with your legs dropped open). I’m used to feeling sore there when working on hamstring flexibility, but never before with other stretches. It’s especially odd with the lunges, because the soreness is in the buttock of the BACK leg. Rotating the leg inward seems to help a little. Do you have any ideas what may be going on here?

Your turnout muscles also attach in the area of the sits bone. You gave a good clue that rotating the leg inward helps relieve the soreness some. Why don’t you try putting a pinkie ball or a tennis ball underneath your pelvis and rolling lightly around. Pay special attention to the sitting bone area. After gently massaging that area do your stretching and see if there is any difference in your response. Let me know if that helps!

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Another dancer writes….

If the hamstrings are tight where might a dancer feel discomfort?

We talked about this in class this morning. It seems logical that if the hamstrings are tight you would feel that tightness at one of the ends of the muscle. Either around the sits bone like the above question – or at the knee. But interestingly, often hamstring tightness and problems show up as lower back aches, and lower back problems will be felt in the hamstrings.

seated_hamstring_nThink about a dancer who has tight hamstrings and is sitting on the floor with one or both of the legs in front of them. As you can see from this picture, the hamstrings aren’t being targeted very effectively – rather the back is taking the brunt of the stretch.

Try using the pinkie ball on your back and pelvis. I really should buy stock in a pinkie ball company! – just teasing!

Sometimes releasing muscular tension above or below the hamstrings will help. I have students spend about a minute rolling a pinkie ball underneath one foot. They are massaging the plantar fascia of the foot. Then they go to touch their hands towards the floor and generally at least 50% of them will feel the hamstring loosened up on the side they used the pinkie ball. They didn’t stretch the hamstring directly – and it still benefited!

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I promise I’ll get back on track with the newsletter. I’m working on updating the website and along with that bringing some new information to you! Stay tune for more info in future newsletters!

Warm regards,
Deborah

Sore Arches

Quick announcement: I’ll be in NYC for the Dance Teachers Summer Conference sponsored by Dance Teacher Magazine and MacFadden Performing Arts Media. I hope to see many of my loyal readers! The subject of my two classes will be, Conditioning the Body for Jumps and 10 Tips Towards Keeping Teachers in Top Shape. Hope to see you August 9-11!

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Recently I’ve been doing a lot of tendus and the like daily to increase the strength and stop my toes “crunching” while pointing. Over the past few days the tendon/muscle going from the top of my toe over the arch has become incredibly sore and “crunches’ when I flex and pointe. After some very brief research on the net, I found that this could be tendonitis. More research also points to a small bone fracture or something to do with the tissue. I was just wondering what you think this is and how to treat it?
Regards,
Jane

My recommendation would be to use the pinkie ball to see if releasing tension from the anterior tibialis muscle will release the discomfort on the top of your arch. That muscle contracts when you flex your foot and needs to stretch and lengthen when you are pointing.

You’ll want to gently kneel on the pinkie ball to massage the front, outside portion of your calf where the anterior Tibialis muscle is. After doing the front of the calf, take some time to massage the bottom of your foot by standing and rolling your foot over the ball. If you are practicing your tendus and lengthening the toes you are strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot – always a good idea! That, along with lengthening the front of the ankle is what creates a beautiful tendu.

If releasing the pull from the muscles around the ankle helps – super! If the top of your foot continues to feel sore, and you are hearing crunching or cracking noises – I would encourage you to go to the doctors and get some x-rays in order to rule out a stress fracture or other boney problem.

The doctor should also look carefully at your standing alignment to make sure your foot is not pronating, which so strongly affects the muscle balance around the foot.

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I am suffering from Plantar fasciitis…I am doing everything (ice, taking time off, walk with heels, massage, exercises for the feet and legs, hamstring and calf lengthening and ease) and there is no change. What do you recommend?

I was diagnosed by a foot doctor.
Lori

Lori, you are following the traditional protocols for plantar fasciitis, and since it is not getting better I would look at other potential factors. Is one foot or both bothering you? Did it start all of a sudden, or come on more gradually? Were there any precipitating events?

It appears that you are going to need to put on your detective’s cap to figure this one out. I would check for any imbalances between the two legs. Could there be a leg length driving this problem? Does one foot have a tendency to pronate more than the other? Do you have a difference in your turnout between the two legs? Are you able to walk more comfortably when your arch is taped up for pronation? Often, that will help ease the pull and strain to the plantar fascia, which will help it heal.

As far as immediately trying to release the strain – I would encourage you to find a practitioner who has been certified by Tom Meyers, who wrote Anatomy Trains, the best book on understanding the myofascial relationships in the body, in my humble opinion. Here is the link to his practitioner list. http://www.anatomytrains.com/kmi/practitioners

There are massage therapists who have studied other myofascial techniques that could also be useful. My focus would be on releasing the entire line of fascia that runs from the bottom of your foot all the way up the back of your leg, spine, neck, and finally ending on your head. It could be that other areas are feeding this posterior line of fascia and once they are released the weight and pull on the plantar fascia will be released.

Plantar fasciitis can be a very tenacious problem – I wish you the very best for a speedy recovery!

Warm regards,
Deborah

“Education is the key to injury prevention”