THE BALLET BLOG
by Ewa Sivertsen

How to transform the process of injury into meaningful learning

Are you a dancer and recently got injured? Why it's natural to feel fear and how to transform the process of injury into meaningful learning.

As you know, I'm a physiotherapist dedicated to the field of dance which still is an active dancer, on a hobby base. By the way, I never have seen the reason to stop dancing! What I usually do now is that I only adjust my body and my thoughts to new needs and the life situation I'm in as a mother, wife, freelancer, house owner, and moreā€¦

In this article, I'm going to share with you some thoughts about being injured and how to make the process constructive for yourself as a dancer.

First, a short story. It's started just right after my period of preparations for a dancing performance. After some short time, I realized that my knee started to hurt, and I barely could bend it, walk the stairs, or play with my kids on the floor.

The pain came unexpected and surprised me as I couldn't give it any meaning or track any logic arguments for why my knee just stopped to function.

Mentally, the first thing that came to me was the feeling of a catastrophe. It manifested itself as a big shock and a fear of not being able to dance again. I thought if I couldn't function normally in my regular daily life, how would it be possible for me to go to the class back and dance?

Second, the catastrophic black&white thoughts got activated immediately, and I started to struggle with ideas like this is over, there will never be any dance classes anymore, the dancing is over, EVERYTHING is over, and now I'm going to live a boring life for the rest of it.

Third: I started to close myself to the world, and I became silent. I stopped to talk to my friends and attend dancing. When they asked, I only answered: oh, I'm so busy right now, so I don't have much time to take classes.

Fourth: I started to get these images in my head about how my knee must look like, with meniscus damaged or worse. I expected complex operations and a long recovery process at the hospital. What was in my head, was an image of a disaster and a total failure. Believe me, this image was so sharp that I was surprised by myself how it was possible to feel like that without knowing ANYTHING about the range of this potential injury.

So what I did, was to seek professional help and I simply...went to my doctor! I asked for an MR test, and I also started to test myself what my knee was able to do and not. I protected my knee and didn't let it do the activities and functions which made the pain worse. When my MR results came, and the picture showed perfect meniscus and other structures in the knee being undamaged, I breathed out. I got so surprised that there wasn't any severe damage inside my knee, only a millimeter- size small cyst who irritated the area and probably caused the pain I felt and the inadequate function in my knee. I almost started to laugh when I discovered this, and that my fear was much much more significant than the actual damage was, and that I spent so much energy being worried,  and lost so much joy being always afraid.

But, I still had pain, and the knee function was terrible. Anyway, knowing that I now can calm down, I started to open my mouth and shared my situations with first, my sister who knows me very well and knows how much great dancing is for me. Then I went to the studio, and I took action. I trained on balance math and finally took out my professional knowledge about the anatomy and physiology of my knee, and my pain. I started to explain pain for myself (by the way, I really recommend this book "Explain Pain"!), and believe me, as an injured dancer, I wasn't better in mastering my fear even that I'm a physiotherapist. In this situation; I faced the injury as a human being, with the fear which is very natural and has a function of protection.

After some weeks, I retested my knee at a hospital, and the cyst was totally gone, the pain was gone, and I was a happy dancer again!
If you would like to know what kind of a knee approach I used during my injury clink on the link here:



What I learned from this process, was that NEVER conclude your situation based on the fear you are feeling here and now. The concern is a natural reaction, but remember that life, fortunately, is in constant motion, and if you have a proactive attitude, you can experience change very quickly.

During my injury, I got a chance to explore my body even more, and I learned about new movement patterns which I didn't know my body had. I also started to look at my body with retrospection and looked at my technique and what should change to get different results.
I got more creative in my self-training and learned a lot about my thought patterns.

One big thing I regret during my injury process, it that I waited too long with sharing my natural fears and thoughts with a close person. I went around depressed and passive, and I could avoid it by starting to talk to someone earlier. I believe it also would faster my recovery process by minimizing the muscular tension, decreasing my breathing and making me mentally stronger to face the new situation.

So please, if you ever get injured, talk about it to someone you trust as soon as possible! Unfortunately, there still is a lot of stigma about the dancer's mental issues, and it is not so easy to open up. The feeling of loneliness can be even bigger if you are living in an environment of stigmatizing attitudes.  My strong recommendation is, if you have access to, please consider talking to a specialist who understands dancers needs so that it will be easier to share your worries in a context of dancing.

That was my story about how I reacted to my knee injury, some things were good, some, unfortunately, was putting a brake on my recovery process. I hope that my experience will help you to find your pro-active and positive ways to cope with an injury, and look at it as an essential learning process, rather than a life-devastating catastrophe!

With that, I wish you all the best and take care of your dancing&health! And remember to download The Three Knee Exercises for Quicker Recovery now, I hope this approach will be helpful if you ever experience a similar injury as mine.

Made With Love,

Ewa&AuthenticBallet

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