Getty Images

A Safer Sauté: How to Prevent Injury From Jumping While Fatigued

Picture this: It's the end of class. You're exhausted and ready for reverence when your teacher decides it's time for a drill of 32 changements. If you feel like you might not be jumping at your best, take extra caution. According to a study led by Danielle Jarvis, an athletic trainer and associate professor of kinesiology at California State University Northridge, when dancers are tired, they may lack the muscle control to land jumps correctly, putting them at risk for injury.


The Study

To see how fatigue affects dancers' performance, Jarvis had 17 dancers perform 12 sautés in second position. She tracked how they executed the jumps, using a motion camera system and plates that measured how forcefully they landed. After having the group dance energetically until they felt fatigued, they repeated the sautés, and she studied how their jumps had changed.

Black and white version of back view of ballet dancer ballerina at the barre in dance class standing in first position

Getty Images

The Findings

Jarvis found that, when fatigued, dancers tend to collapse into a deeper plié at the end of a jump. She saw an increased degree of dorsiflexion—the way your ankle bends upwards—upon landing. "They're also tending to roll in towards the arch of the foot," says Jarvis, "which we know is associated with forced turnout and increasing the risk of injury." These habits put dancers particularly at risk for tendon overuse injuries, especially in the Achilles or the FHL tendon, which stretches from underneath the ball of the foot up the back of the calf. There's also a risk for foot or knee injuries.

How to Help Your Jumps

Eccentric strengthening exercises, which focus on controlled motions, like a careful, precise plié at the end of a jump, may help dancers maintain their technique while jumping, even when fatigued. "That controlled lowering is really where I think the strength is lacking," says Jarvis, who recommends the following exercise:

Stand on both feet, either turned out or in parallel. Relevé, and lower slowly for 5 counts. Then, try it one foot at a time. Work up to completing 3 sets of 10 on each leg

Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
iStock

Ask Amy: My Parents Want Me to Get a Job and Cut Back on Dance Classes

I am thinking about pursuing a career in ballet. However, my parents have made it clear that at some point they want me to get a job, which they acknowledge would mean possibly dropping dance, or at least not taking as many classes. I agree that getting a job is important so that I'm able to make my own money, but dropping dance classes is the exact opposite of what will get me to where I want to be. Any suggestions? —Kaia

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Laurent Liotardo (post-production by Nik Pate), Courtesy ENB

Catch English National Ballet’s Rising Stars in the Emerging Dancer Competition Livestream

The coronavirus pandemic may have postponed English National Ballet's annual Emerging Dancer competition last spring, but the show must go on—digitally! You can still watch ENB's best and brightest talent during the competition's livestream, taking place on September 22 at 7:20 pm BST (that's 2:20 pm ET). Now in its 11th year, the competition for the Emerging Dancer Award will be broadcast live from the company's East London production studio for the first time. Tickets are available for $6.99 per device and will remain available to view on demand until September 29.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks