Achilles tendinitis is all too common amongst dancers. I myself am a victim and know just how painful it can be. It's a long healing process and, let's be honest, dancers often just don't have the time it takes for it to heal.
On Thursday, the Maine State Ballet's physical therapist sat us down to talk to us about taking care of our bodies and injury prevention before we begin our summer intensive. After asking him a question about caring for Achilles tendinitis, the feedback was surprising.
Typically, when my Achilles irritates me during a class, I am careful to give it a little TLC afterwards: ice, elevation, massage, arnica gel, and sometimes Icy Hot. But little did I know that all of the attention I was giving to the site of pain wouldn't provide any long-term benefits at all.
"Everything is connected," Dr. David Reese told us. "So in order to treat the Achilles, we must first treat the calf." He proceeded to explain that massaging and loosening the calf will ease the Achilles as well as the ball of the foot. Something I would have never even thought to do.
What I gathered from our talk regarding Achilles tendinitis was this:
- Ice the trouble area after use for ten to fifteen minutes.
- Massage and stretch the calf to loosen the muscles.
- Massage the ball of the foot
- Icy Hot and Arnica Gel are beautiful things and should certainly be used if you find them helpful.
He also talked to us a lot about nutrition. Dr. David Reese has worked with many dancers and dance companies including Alvin Ailey. He told us that backstage at a performance with Alvin Ailey, all the dancers were given to eat was fruit and vegetables and the nearest legitimate food sources were McDonalds and whatever they could find in China Town. He couldn't stress enough how important it was to properly feed your body and give it the nutrients that it needs.
"Protein, protein, protein," he said. "To replenish your muscles you need protein, especially after dancing."
He also mentioned that we shouldn't be afraid of carbohydrates. Many dancers are wary of them, but they are a great source of energy and we shouldn't always avoid them.
"So have that plate of pasta or occasional cheeseburger," he laughed. "Our bodies need calcium, protein, and carbohydrates. It's okay to eat and properly feed your body," he reminded us.
I found it to be a great talk. There will be several lectures incorporated into our summer intensive schedule, so I'll be sure to provide you with more of Dr. David Reese's pearls of wisdom.
Thank you David for talking with us! I hope everyone is gearing up for a fabulous 4th of
July weekend! My family always throws a party at our lakehouse in Maine. This year the even falls on the 5th and I'll provide updates ASAP.
Stay tuned for a look into the first week of summer intensives filled with partnering tips and answers to questions like: what are the best snacks to pack? How much water should I be drinking? And I'm sore! What can I do?
Have any questions you'd like answered? I'm here to help. Ask me anything and everything with an email or leave a comment below (it makes my day).