December 27, 2007

Dancing Smart Newsletter: 12/28/07

Welcome to Teaching Smart! This blog will house the Dancing Smart Newsletter and gives you the opportunity to add your helpful suggestions at the end of the post. Hopefully, posting the newsletter in this format will decrease the newsletters that get caught by spam filters and create more active dialogue between us. I'm always open to feedback and learning - and will be the first to admit I don't have all the answers! Please be respectful in your responses and it goes without saying that the focus and content should stick to the posting topic.

Warmest wishes for a successful 2008!


About two years ago when I started training very seriously for just ballet, I started having a popping sensation in my hip. I soon learned that I had snapping tendon syndrome. During the winter of that year I hurt it badly enough where I couldn't walk comfortably and couldn't dance for about two weeks. It got better, but I always had the same popping.

Now two years later, I have learned that I have had snapping tendon tendonitis. It hurts whenever I do anything to a la seconde (especially doing développés, ronde de jambs, and retire/posse). It also hurts when developing devant and fouettes of course.

Last year I got physical therapy at the local exercise place and it didn't help at all. I've read your "Tune Up Your Turnout" book (and love it :) and I've been stretching in a lunge position during class often. Any other stretches or exercises I can do? Will my tendonitis ever go away even though I've stopped growing, and are foam rollers helpful?
Thanks, Rachel


It's unclear from your description whether the popping is coming from the front of the side of the hip. Snapping hip syndrome usually refers to the pop at the side of the hip that comes when the thick band of tissue (the iliotibial band) snaps over the greater trochanter which is the bump on the outside and top of the thighbone.

The foam rollers are extremely helpful as you roll slowly on the outside of the hip, and down the outside of the thigh. It can be pretty tight and uncomfortable, so only put as much pressure on the foam roller as you can easily tolerate.

If the popping is coming from the front of the hip it is the hip flexor tendon that is causing the snap. I'm happy to hear you are doing the stretches from Tune Up Your Turnout, which focus on stretching out the iliopsoas muscle with the lunge stretches, and standing quadriceps stretching. Keep doing those and add on a new way of stretching with the foam roller.

Start resting with the foam roller at the top of both thighs. You are going to rest on your elbows. Gently allow your weight to drop into the foam rollers. Slowly bend both knees until you feel a subtle stretch. Keeping your knees bent let both feet drop to one side, then the other. It will feel as if you are rolling across the width of the quadriceps. (The foam roller stays in the same place on your thighs)

After doing a couple of passes, shift forward slightly so the foam roller is now a bit closer to your knees. Repeat bending your knees and slowly letting your feet drop from one side to the other – easily and slowly.

Try this once again bringing the foam roller closer to your knees – staying at least 4 inches above the knees. In this final position your chest is probably now resting on the floor as you drop the feet from side to side. The last position will be the most tender (or at least is for me) so please do this carefully and slowly.

Then stand up and see how your legs feel – hopefully a lot looser!

It does help that you have stopped growing as growth spurts are notoriously challenging for dancers and athletes. Can you get rid of your tendinitis? Absolutely, Rachel! Tendinitis is an overuse syndrome and can be very tricky to work with. It often seems like it is 3 steps forward, then 1 step backwards. Decreasing the overall tension of the contributing muscles and creating a better balance between strength and flexibility will give you better muscle tone, increased range of motion, and decreased pain.

Good luck, be patient, and let me know how you do!

Happy New Year!


"Education is the key to injury prevention"