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Going to class with arm injury (in sling)? en>fr fr>en
By jlfuller22 Comments: 116, member since Sat Jun 13, 2009
On Sun Jul 12, 2009 03:28 PM

Hi everyone. Last Thursday night I took a tumble down my stairs (I was going to church in heels and was running a tad late, you can guess the rest :)) So after a trip to the er I discovered I had a hairline fracture on my left rotator cuff. The injury isn't too serious, I just have to wear a sling for the next few weeks and then follow up with an orthopedic. Worst case scenario I'll have to go to PT for awhile.

My studio's summer session is 6 weeks long and we are now half way through. Obviously I don't want to miss the next three weeks of classes (I'm taking 6 hours of ballet a week) and I don't think I'll have to as its only an arm injury.

My question is, how have others gone through class with an arm in a sling? Do most studios even allow this? It will obviously way throw off my balance in turns and such. I also won't be able to hold the barre with my left arm. Any tricks about getting through stuff you can't do or is better to just sit out the hard parts?

I am actually really klutzy so its kind of weird that this is my first injury. I'm new to the world of breaks and slings so just getting through everyday life has been a challenge! I don't know what I'm going to do about dance! Any and all help will be greatly appreciated :)

10 Replies to Going to class with arm injury (in sling)?

re: Going to class with arm injury (in sling)? en>fr fr>en
By veganwarriormember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 216, member since Fri Apr 17, 2009
On Sun Jul 12, 2009 05:00 PM
Ouch. I always find it funny how we can be so graceful and balanced. Then we end up tripping over our own feet or stubbing our toes (I can't even count the amount of times that all of those have happened to me)

I haven't personally dealt with this issue, but I remember reading a thread awhile back about taking (ballet) exams with casts. www.dance.net . . .

how have others gone through class with an arm in a sling? Never happened to me (knock on wood).

Do most studios even allow this? From what I read on the other post some said that their teachers have/would make them sit out. If you don't think it is that bad and you can dance in it you could explain that to your studio owner.

Any tricks about getting through stuff you can't do or is better to just sit out the hard parts? Just try doing everything once. You might surprise yourself. Then when you get rid of the sling you will be so much better.

I hope I helped a little bit. =) good luck.
re: Going to class with arm injury (in sling)? en>fr fr>en
By Emi89member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 838, member since Wed Jan 16, 2008
On Sun Jul 12, 2009 05:19 PM
if i'm not mistaken thats a wrist injury yes?

if so, why dont you go to the ER or your doctor and ask if you could get a simple wrist brace that would hold everything in place so you could go to class, with a sling i'd be worred about injuring it further by flailing it about accidentally

as long as its supported and you're not doing anything that would put stress on it then i dont see why you shouldnt go to class :)
re: Going to class with arm injury (in sling)? en>fr fr>en
By Sumayah Comments: 6099, member since Wed Nov 12, 2008
On Sun Jul 12, 2009 05:54 PM
If I had a student who came in with a sling, I'd have them do what they could, mark they stuff they could mark, and sit and stretch the stuff they couldn't mark. That way you could still do simple things like plies and tendus and some barre work, simple adagios center, releves instead of pirouettes, mark sautes, and sit out grand allegro. Keeps your legs still active and strong without jarring your shoulder.
re: Going to class with arm injury (in sling)? en>fr fr>en
By Arakmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 18113, member since Sun Aug 13, 2000
On Sun Jul 12, 2009 06:30 PM
Edited by Arak (4524) on 2009-07-12 18:31:46
Emi89 - The rotator cuff is part of your shoulder, not your wrist. Thought I'm a little confused as to where the fracture actually is, because the term "rotator cuff" being applies to the muscles of the scapula, whose tendons surround the glenohumoral (shoulder) joint. It has nothing to do with the bones. (And the part I find amusing about that term is, of the four muscles, one of them isn't even a rotator; it just gets lumped in with the others because of its location. But I'm a nerd like that.) Are you sure it's not actually your clavicle or your acetabulum?

And as far as taking class, I say no. Dance does not just happen from the waist down; it takes your whole body. You would find that you are being thrown way off balance by not having the use of one arm. And because of that, your body would find ways to compensate for it and once you're out of the sling you'll have all kinds of fun quirks to correct. And besides that, what if you lose your balance, fall, and land on your shoulder? You'll benefit more by sitting out and watching and letting this thing heal properly.
re: Going to class with arm injury (in sling)? en>fr fr>en
By toroandbruinmember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 3520, member since Fri Oct 10, 2008
On Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:08 PM
First and foremost -- does your doctor say it is OK with him? If the answer is , "Yes", then confer with your dance teacher. Can you do everything in class with both arms simply, sort of "crossed" so that they are not out of balance? This means you will have to do everything with your core. Perhaps not a bad exercise!

The closest I've come is many years ago when I was skiing. I decided to take a small jump at the end of the day, tired, in flat light and went head over teakettle. When I came to and got up, my shoulder really hurt. I went to the doctor, explaining, "I can't raise my arm or it hurts." After checking everything out he advised, "So don't raise your arm." Luckily, he understood skiers and did not prohibit the sport. Therefore, I skied the entire rest of the season without poles and, guess what -- my skiing improved about 300%!

So unless your doctor does not want you to jostle the area or tense the surrounding muscles it could be a learning experience.

When I was dancing nothing similar took place though once I did break the smaller arm bone near the wrist which landed me in a small, light-weight, cast for a while. My doctor, who encouraged me to stay active and continue using the arm as much as possible, had no problem with the Jazzercise step class I was doing at that time to stay in shape. My instructor, though, asked to do the step class without using a step. I said, "Sure," (because the choreography was simple and easy to modify in interesting ways). But I pointed out that the doctor had no problem with step aerobics. "And how did you break the arm?" she asked. "Falling down stairs," :P I admitted. So I couldn't blame her for not wanting to see me on the step with a cast on, and instead did my own thing on the flat in that class for the duration. :D
re: Going to class with arm injury (in sling)? en>fr fr>en
By jlfuller22 Comments: 116, member since Sat Jun 13, 2009
On Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:47 PM
First to clarify a few things. I said "rotator cuff" as I'm really bad at medical terms and I just know that was the stupidest :) term for where my injury is. Basically I just can't raise my arm forward or to the side more than 20 degrees or so.

I called my doctor and he said the place my injury is makes wearing a sling optional. "Jostling" my arm so to speak won't hinder recovery. Basically the sling is to be used when I'm just relaxing at home or I'm in pain. The fracture should essentially heal itself with time. I asked him about dance and he admitted to not knowing a lot about it but he seemed to think I would be fine.

I think what I'm going to do is try to catch my teacher tomorrow before she begins her first class so I can explain the whole situation to her and have her decide what she wants me to do. Some experimentation has shown the best position I can hold my arms is in low fifth so without factoring in what my teacher has to say, I think I can do barre work and adage and petite allegro but will sit out grande allegro. Thank you whoever the teacher was for suggesting raises instead of pirouettes. I will definitely suggest that to my teacher.

Well my class is tomorrow so I'll post tomorrow with what my teacher has me do. I then have a different teacher the next day so she might have me do something completely different! I'm just glad I decided to fly down the stairs in the summer, not before a big performance or right in the middle of learning my routines.
re: Going to class with arm injury (in sling)? en>fr fr>en
By odile53 Comments: 1913, member since Thu Sep 06, 2007
On Sun Jul 12, 2009 11:53 PM
I don't think you're going to want to try this, and I say it out of personal experience. I had a bad rotator cuff tear, requiring surgery. Just the movement of the car from side to side on the way home from the hospital was enough to make my eyes water in pain. For the first few nights I had to sleep in a chair with a pillow under my forearm to keep the weight of my arm from putting pressure on the nerves in my shoulder. I've been a dancer for a long time, and have a high pain threshold.

By the way, it took me nearly nine months to rehab postoperatively so that my arm was good enough to go back to work, let alone dance.

Go to observe class, but listen to your doctor first, then your teacher. You MIGHT be able to get away with a few plies, tendus, that sort of thing, depending on the extent of the injury, but from what I experienced, I doubt it. And talk with your doctor again--most rotator tears are fixable only by surgery.
re: Going to class with arm injury (in sling)? en>fr fr>en
By Arakmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 18113, member since Sun Aug 13, 2000
On Mon Jul 13, 2009 06:22 AM
I asked him about dance and he admitted to not knowing a lot about it but he seemed to think I would be fine.

This is what I keep going on about - dancers having needs that other dancers can fulfill the best. So if you can't get yourself into a company, go to med school, people!

When I broke my feet I went back to get checked out after two or so months and when I asked about dance the doctor told me the same thing. So I went back to dance and promptly re-injured myself, all because this doctor assumed "If I don't know about it already, it must not be a big deal". So if I were you, I would err on the side of caution and just sit it out. It's only three weeks.
re: Going to class with arm injury (in sling)? en>fr fr>en
By AlwaysOnStagePremium member Comments: 7291, member since Sun Apr 18, 2004
On Mon Jul 13, 2009 08:57 AM
Don't participate in class. Period.


Because you have an injury you'll be worrying about compensating for that body part with other things, which is training your body wrong. Straight up, training your body to do the wrong thing. Go, with a notebook, and take notes--observe. You learn SO MUCH without moving. It's the best thing you ca do for yourself. Trying to 'work around' injuries when you don't have to (and even when you do) makes your body compensate in weird and unusual ways, which makes it weirder when you try to go back to using everything correctly. It's not worth it.
re: Going to class with arm injury (in sling)? en>fr fr>en
By Dancingkate_x Comments: 630, member since Fri Mar 07, 2008
On Mon Jul 13, 2009 02:35 PM
Edited by Dancingkate_x (193118) on 2009-07-13 14:37:00
A girl recently broke her arm in my class and she still continued to take classes ... we were in a run up to a show and she was getting the cast off the day before. She just didn't do pointe or dances were we wore 'New Yorker' shoes (heeled).
Quite a few others have still taken classes in the past with casts on their arms, they just don't do dances where you go on the floor and they are just more cautious.
It depends on your teacher though because you school might have different requirements and it might not be appropriate. (Not enough space, to many others in the class, dances that require lots of movement and floor work) You should be able to do floor stretches and basic steps if you are careful.

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