Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Many dance teachers, concerned parents and health professionals are struggling with what they see going on in the dance world, especially online. Every day we are seeing images of young kids stretching inhumanely which tends to inspire girls with ballet dreams. But is it safe?

Recent studies show how ignorant teachers can cause the children untold physical damage. Many ballet teachers lack important training in anatomy and physiology. Encouraging children too early into moves, like going up “en pointe”, when the whole body is balanced on the toes, can ruin careers. It’s not just relatively advanced techniques like pointe work that can cause problems but forcing “turnout”, where dancers splay out their feet and open their hips, can also cause damage.

What is over-stretching and how is it harmful?
Over stretching is taking any joint past its natural physiological range, and especially stretching the ligaments that normally help support the joint, so that it becomes more mobile. Overstretching may also be where the individual is forced into a position resulting in traumatic damage to the tissues that previously restricted range. Many young students, especially those who already have hyper-mobility, are being put in ranges that overload one particular area, in their desire to achieve dramatic ranges of flexibility
If joint, such as the hip, is pushed past its normal range of motion there is a risk of damaging the surrounding tissues, including the labrum of the hip, the ligaments that surround the joint or in the case of the spine, the discs that give us the capacity for shock absorption and spinal mobility. In young students whose bones are not fully developed there is also a serious risk of damaging the shape of the hip socket or developing spinal stress fractures or Spondylolisthesis.

Adolescent bones (especially in the pelvis, spine and foot) are very vulnerable and any kind of extreme mobility training in young students must be very carefully considered.

And ballet for toddlers, which children can start at the age of two, must be handled with particular care. The teacher’s care to handle this age group is perhaps more important than at any other stage because at that point the bones are completely unformed.
They are unset and they are very, very flexible. Huge danger is apparent at that point.

We at LDAB have also seen too many children arrive at our school after early ballet training elsewhere with absolutely no understanding of correct posture, alignment and how to use turnout correctly, many with knee injuries too. A good dancer does not necessarily make one a good teacher. Quite often the understanding to break things down and build things up to achieve a rounded dancer isn’t there in many teachers.
Ballet is a lot of fun, in the right environment and with the right teacher.

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