Thinkstock

Ask Amy: What Are The Best Non-Weight-Bearing Exercises To Do While Recovering From An Injury?

I have stress fractures in my sesamoid bones and need to be off my feet for four weeks. What are the best non–weight-bearing exercises I can do to stay in ballet shape? —Lindsay

Your sesamoid bones (two tiny, pea-shaped bones under the ball of the foot that act as a pulley for the big toe tendons) are a point of contact with the floor, so it's important to avoid bearing weight on the front of the foot while they heal. But that doesn't mean you can't continue conditioning your body. In fact, this is an excellent opportunity to work on core strengthening.


According to Emily Sandow, PT, DPT, OCS, at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at New York University Langone Medical Center, floor barre is an excellent way to stay in shape. "It's basically taking what you do in class and putting it on the floor," says Sandow. If you've seen A Ballerina's Tale, you'll recall that floor barre classes with Marjorie Liebert were a huge part of Misty Copeland's recovery from shin fractures. If you need guidance, there are plenty of floor barre classes available on DVD and YouTube—look for ones taught by Liebert, Zena Rommett and Stéphane Dalle.

Supplementary somatics can help, too. When I was sidelined with a stress fracture in my ankle, I stayed conditioned with Pilates mat and reformer classes. Gyrotonic is another great option for dancers. As for cardiovascular exercise? "Swimming is fantastic because you're able to do big motions without worrying about load bearing," says Sandow. The stationary bicycle is another option, but use your mid-foot or heel to pedal.

"Let pain be your guide," says Sandow. "If it hurts, stop." Once you're able to start taking barre, pace yourself. Stress fractures are overuse injuries, often aggravated by a high-pressure lifestyle, poor diet and irregular menstruation. Use this time off not only to heal, but also to check in with your work and eating habits.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt—she might answer it in an upcoming issue!

Latest Posts


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
From left: Alaina Broyles, Courtesy Werner; Courtesy Underwood

Gaynor Minden's Latest Dancer Lineup Features a Body-Positivity Activist and Its First Guy

Pointe shoe brand Gaynor Minden recently welcomed 32 young dancers to its coveted roster of Gaynor Girls. But this year, the company included two applicants who push the boundaries of what it means to dance on pointe. While both Mason Simon Underwood and Colleen Werner are longtime GM wearers, they stand out from the rest of this year's group: Underwood is the first ever Gaynor Guy, and Werner is a body-positivity activist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks