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Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle (karma: 49)
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 11:07 AM
Made sticky by Theresa (28613) on 2005-11-26 21:27:06
Moved to Irish - Technique & Training by Theresa (28613) on 2005-12-16 11:04:43 moved to a more appropriate forum
Edited by Sumayah (204191) on 2011-09-25 12:22:03 fixed mark-up codes and removed dead images

Okay, first of all we're going to deal with sickling - and a picture speaks a thousands words. This picture shows sickling when standing flat:

Image hotlink - 'http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b115/weezy8/sickling.jpg'

...and this shows a ballet dancer supinating while pointing:

Image hotlink - 'http://www.abt.org/education/dictionary/terms/images/sickling.jpeg'

Here's a dancer supinating on half-pointe, demi-pointe, tiptoe..whatever you want to call it:

Image hotlink - 'http://www.nismat.org/ptcor/dance/ballet2.jpg'

To a light shoe dancer, as you can see, sickling is very unattractive while doing anything that requires a pointed toe or standing/dancing on half pointe. So essentially - everything! But aesthetics isn't the only reason to try not to sickle - as I'm sure Jitchiwah will vouch for - if you land on a sickled ankle, you ARE going to fall and you ARE going to hurt yourself (see main picture). For a hardshoe dancer these 'cons' are the same - but with the added danger of pointe. A sickled dancer on pointe runs the risk of every ankle injury in the book - plus it places too much strain on the knee and hip joints.

The only way to correct sickling is - I'm afraid - exercises. So - shoes and socks off, rolls up the jeans, look down. Are you pronating or supinating? Then read on. In fact, read on even if you're neutral. I am neutral, and I still have problems with my ankles. Neutrality doesn't automatically mean you'll never hurt yourself or that you have strong ankles.

And, just quickly, here are www.pacificballet.org 's requirements that dancers must meet before starting pointe. If you don't meet these criteria, you MUST do strength work immediately.

Keep the heels forward toward the big toe (no sickling).
The most stable position for pointe work is to have the weight slightly forward over the big toe.

Point their feet while dancing.
Students must point their feet while dancing in order to strengthen the muscles that pointe-work requires. If the student is not in the habit of using these foot muscles then they will not be able to support themselves en pointe and will probably knuckle over on their toes, thereby increasing their chances for injury.

Be able to do 16 relevés...without stopping.
Strength for pointe work is achieved by repeating exercises. Relevés are excellent for building up calf muscle strength, which is vital for pointe work. The student must also go up as high on half-pointe as she can, since pointe work demands this ability. A student who keeps her heels very low to the ground is not preparing her calf muscles adequately, and will not have the strength for pointe work.

(NB - Relevés are simply raising oneself up onto half-pointe, usually in a turned out position, and back down to flat again - slowly and carefully).

------

Exercises

1) Alignment and Strength of Feet.
Stand with your legs and feet parallel with a tennis ball placed between your ankles. Slowly rise up onto the balls of your feet and then lower back down while keeping the ball between your ankles. The ball helps you keep your ankles aligned without winging or sickling. Perform a maximum of ten repetitions at any one time. (www.dancer.com)

2) Range of Ankle Rotation and Strength.
Sit up straight with your back firmly against the back of a chair. Slowly turn your left foot inward. Hold this position for six seconds. Then turn foot very slowly outward and hold for another six seconds. Repeat this exercise six times. Repeat entire exercise with right foot.

----------

Therabands

Therabands are often used in a rehab setting to help injured dancers recover quickly after injuries. Healthy dancers, too, have realised the pros of using Theraband and have long since invested in short bouts of time in their daily routines to prevent injuries. If you've never considered Theraband there are some great reasons for you to try it:
1. Theraband is inexpensive. You can cut to order at $5 a yard;
2. Theraband is portable. It will easily fit in your dance bag; and
3. It's effective if used properly.

Below are three great Theraband exercises for your feet. You will need a length of Theraband about 1 yard long (Theraband comes in a range of resistance. For beginners I recommend the red Theraband which is light resistance. For intermediate and advanced the green or medium resistance can be used.) Remember you will gain more out of each exercise if you do the movement slowly with control rather than doing many repetitions without thought. Other general guidelines:
§ Do each exercise on both legs at least 10 times initially once a day. Increase repetitions and frequency as you gain strength.
§ Be ever aware of your ankle alignment. Prevent sickling throughout each movement.
§ Remember that if you feel undue pain during the exercise, stop immediately. You may be overdoing it or aggravating an old injury. Take a break and try again later. Consult with a rehab specialist if your problem continues.

Flex and pointe
Works the ankle stabilizers, strengthens the arch and toes, stretches the achilles tendon.
1. Sit with your leg stretched in front of you in parallel with your knee straight. Position the center of the Theraband beneath the ball of your foot and under the toes.
2. Start with your foot flexed. Take up the slack and keep the band parallel to your legs. Keep the tension constant by keeping your arms in a fixed position.
3. Slowly stretch the foot into a pointed position. Hold for 3 counts then return to the starting position. Repeat.

Flex and relax
Works the ankle stabilizers, strengthens the ankle flexors, helps to prevent shin splints.
1. Sit with your ankle crossed over the opposite leg. Position the center of the Theraband over the metatarsals and toes.
2. Start with your foot relaxed. Take up the slack and keep the band on the same horizontal plane as your foot (If you hold the band above your foot your are more likely to sickle). Keep the tension constant by keeping your arm in a fixed position.
3. Slowly flex the ankle. Hold for 3 counts then return to the starting position. Repeat.

-------

So - brief though it was I hope this has alerted you to the fact that you may not be aligning your ankle properly and you may not really be strong enough to stand en pointe safely. Many more in-depth exercises can be found on these websites:

www.mckinley.uiuc.edu . . .
physicaltherapy.about.com . . .

...but don't forget that Google is your friend!

Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor or physiotherapist. Do not trust this random DDNer over trained professionals. If you encounter pain of any sort, stop the exercise immediately and seek professional advice. If you pass this advice onto friends, impose upon them the same disclaimer. These are not miracle cures - if you do them once a week you will not notice improvement. They may not work for you - something else might. If you do have 'something else' please share it here.

Thankyou!

Louise

65 Replies to Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle

re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By Jitchiwahmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 11:14 AM
OWWWW
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By Emi1y
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 11:17 AM
Amazing post Louise! If I could give karma I would (I'm still a new member), but I've requested to the mods that it be made a sticky.

I pronate and I wear orthotics in my shoe to fix it so this was really helpful for me to read. I do some of those exercises already but there are a couple that I've never heard of so I'll try them out. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together!
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle (karma: 2)
By LlamaLlamaDuckmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 11:17 AM
Some great advice there.

I'm all for theraband work... if you have an extra few hundred dollars sitting around I would recommend investing in a wobble board as well.

theraband.com also has a great list of exercises. You can personalize a plan for yourself. For example the exercises above are from this website. Say you are looking for exercises for your arms or wrist, they are also here.

When in doubt, I highly recommend going to see a physiotherapist and having them design a rehab/maintainance programme just for you, also it is a good idea to make sure that you are doing all exercises correctly.

Especially with pronation, orthotics are also a good idea, they will help to realign your feet. They also work for supination.

Watch the footwear that you are wearing on a daily basis. Saucony and New Balance are the best running shoes that you can get (I was told by a kinesiologist who went to a seminar). Nikes are the worst shoes as far as support goes, especially Nike Shox. Birkenstocks are also great shoes.
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 11:25 AM
Why do I always forget stuff? I forgot to include shoes and orthotics. I'm rubbish. Slap my hand.

Louise
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle (karma: 1)
By AisAis
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 11:45 AM
/\

*slap*
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By EireLibramember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 11:56 AM
Thanks Weezy! I'll have to show this to people who have sprained their ankles... maybe then they'll turn out and not sickle, lol.

By the way folks, I think this is why I sprained my ankle this past summer. So don't be me, protect yourselves!
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By AisAis
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 12:02 PM
What are mine? I can't work it out

Image hotlink - 'http://tinypic.com/hukbk1.jpg'
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By EireLibramember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 12:05 PM
if I may... Your right looks a little supinated.
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle (karma: 1)
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 12:08 PM
Edited by weezy (29559) on 2005-11-26 12:08:59
Take the picture again but make sure BOTH your heels are dead-on straight to the camera and that your feet are straight - no turnout on this occasion. We can't tell for sure at an angle.

Louise
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle (karma: 2)
By LlamaLlamaDuckmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 12:43 PM
I've got an even easier way, look at your shoes, if they are worn on the outside you are a supinator, if they are more worn on the inside you are a pronator. If there are no signs of excessive wear in spots chance are you are ok.
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By AinetheDragonPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 02:41 PM
I have a tendancy to supinate... used to freak my teacher out cause my ankles are also like rubber, and I would roll my ankle, and fall down like every class! Now they are much stronger, and I dont fall down, but I now have a tendancy to pronate a bit from overcompensating. Especially when turning out (I do mostly turn out from the hips, but I'm still working on not pushing a bit from the ankles too).

I think this is a really good post, as sickling the ankles is one of the most common problems in ID that leads to injuries, both minor and major. So many dancers turn their ankles, and blame it on the floor or something and never really look to fix the technique.

In addition to strengthening exercises, you can look at your dancing and pay attention to what your ankles are doing. Being strong wont help if you dont also break bad habits. Pay attention to the way you walk too.. dont turn out when you walk, and keep your weight even on your feet.

Shoes are also key, even for just walking around in. If you dont have good shoes, at least get insoles for them! Not only will it help with this, but it also will help your knees and arches, and hips and back too!
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By hummingbird
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 03:49 PM
This is a really... reely good post weezy
The only thing I have to add is that if you have a supination or more common pronation when standing,you are twisting your knees as well and will also injure them.So it is very important to get things right from the ground up
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By Eireannmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 07:11 PM
Ah, loveliness! I MAJORLY pronate, but I've never had problems with my ankles when dancing. You know why? Because I made DANG sure that my ankles were strong enough to keep me safe before trying any of the tricky stuff. Injuries are no fun.
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By xodncnblondi13member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 07:23 PM
thanks for posting

alot of the stuff is what my teacher is looking for before she puts on en pointe or not. and i learned so new excersises i can try
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By SionnachPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 08:57 PM
google may be my friend, but weezy is my favorite.


okay, so I'm a little confused. My shoes are worn out on the inside of the sole towards the toe, but on the outside of the sole towards the heel. then when I stand I almost look neutral. since the heel is worn out the most should I guess that I'm a supinator?


on a completely unrelated subject~~~
LlamaLlamaDuck, I LOVE your icon. Hilarious.
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By rincedragonflymember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 09:10 PM
*chanting* Weezy's my best friend, Weezy's my best friend!

I am just getting over a nasty strained ligament due to sickling on pointe and falling on my butt. :) Thank you! I am working on re-strengthing so the same thing does not happen again.

THANK YOU! Now I feel motivated to break out the Theraband and do some exercises. :)
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By brackengirlmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 09:38 PM
i looked at my shoes and it seems as though im a pronator. i better order a theraband...maybe ill aske for one for christmas....
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle (karma: 1)
By reeldansr
On Sat Nov 26, 2005 10:14 PM
Edited by reeldansr (130996) on 2005-11-26 22:23:14
Edited by reeldansr (130996) on 2005-11-26 22:32:48
Great post, Weezy!! If I may add a few more suggestions for exercises...

One of the things ballet dancers do to strengthen their feet and ankles for pointe is releves - lots and lots of releves in every position imaginable (feet parallel, turned out, switching feet, etc.). These are very effective as an exercise when done in large quantities (I don't know if this was totally clear in the OP - it was just kind of mentioned as a criteria for pointework). One of my friends does a total of about 150 a day. These are great strengthening exercises and are so simple and require no equipment. They key is doing them very slowly - this builds the strength, as opposed to stamina if you do them quickly. It's also very important to stretch your calves before and after doing the releves to prevent them from tightening, trust me, you'll want to because you'll feel it! Another great simple exercise is writing the alphabet in the air with foot pointed by moving your ankle. This takes your ankle through its entire range of motion. Again, do this slowly.

Both of these exercises have helped me a lot with ankle strength in recovering from my severely sprained ankle this summer. You will see improvements in a few weeks if you make a committment to do them for just a few minutes every day. I also used a Theraband to regain flexibility. It's a great way to stretch a bit.

RD

P.S. I've been a ballet dancer for many many years before I became an Irish dancer. Above knowledge is a combination of exercises given to me by my instructors, my own experience, and things learned from other dancers over the years. Check out the ballet/pointe boards on this site, you'll find they have the same exercises, and many many more.
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By Hoodster777member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Sun Nov 27, 2005 12:16 AM
Great post! I'm also a ballet dancer and I sickle a lot when I'm in demi-pointe (mainly when I'm up in a passe), and doing releves really helps. And I pronate, but when I'm up in demi-pointe, I supinate.
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By Saoirse
On Sun Nov 27, 2005 05:58 AM
Good post.
I would like to add that those theraband exercises work wonders for your jumping abilities (fly! or in my case manage to get off the ground at all...)and for staying high on your toes, plus improving your arch!
That just as a little bit of extra motivation.
I am such a big fan of that point and flex exercise that it is the number one exercise I recommend to ANY Irish dancer. If you only have three minutes time to practise or exercise, that is the best way to spend it. It just improves SO many aspects of your dancing. I love it. Especially cause I can do it whilst watching tv, or just about anywhere and everywhere.

Oh yes, and Karma to weezy. You're a good girl.
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By AisAis
On Sun Nov 27, 2005 09:35 AM
Image hotlink - 'http://tinypic.com/hvdzqt.jpg'

heres a better one. They don't look like those pics so I'm a little consufzzzled still.
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By maureensiobhan
On Sun Nov 27, 2005 10:12 AM
This is a wonderful post.

If you pronate the foot while pointing the foot, that is called winging the foot in ballet. There are ballet dancers who wing the foot when they do arabesque. Balanchine didn't want the dancers to "wing" the foot. Pronating the foot can injure the ankle just as much as supinating, and you won't be able to balance in pointe shoes since you won't be correctly over the box. That same thing (not being correctly over the box caused by pronating and supinating) can happen in hard shoes when you do toe stands, and could cause taco toes.
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By Rosiemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sun Nov 27, 2005 10:33 AM
Thanks for posting this, Louise! Your posts are always so helpful, and informative!
re: Ankle Injury Thread - including How Not to Sickle
By celticladymember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Mon Nov 28, 2005 06:52 PM
I went through hell with my ankles due to slipping and landing sickled on a very slick floor and may I say that therabands are my best friends. They helped tremendously with my rehab. I also use these posture cups:www.footsmart.com . . .
Since I've been wearing them I've noticed I don't supinate at all anymore,not to mention I feel better since I'm better aligned as well.I also do at least 250 calf raises/releves daily in alternating reps of first position,pigeon toed(toes turned in) and straight. Gets both of the gastrocs in the calves and the rest of the supporting mucles. Those and the therabands have dones wonders for my lower leg strength.

LlamaLlamaDuck,I totally agree about New Balance, I LOVE their shoes.

Karma for you Weezy for taking the time to do this post.
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