Health & Body

Ask Deb: How Do I Help My Dancers Through Growth Spurts?


I have a student who's going through a growth spurt, and I'm wondering what advice I should give her. Is there anything you recommend?

That's such a great question! Dancers often get injuries during growth spurts because they continue to train as if there hasn't been a shift in their flexibility. Overuse injuries like tendinitis often occur during this time.

During growth spurts, bones grow faster than muscles. If the growth spurt is significant, a student may experience growing pains, and they may become temporarily clumsy and uncoordinated. Add in hormonal shifts and you've got a pretty awkward period to get through.

Here are four things to tell your students during growth spurts:

1. Encourage your student to gently and consistently stretch. Make sure they're feeling their stretching effort in the middle of the muscle, not at the joints, which would indicate the pull is too strong and the tendons are yelling at them to ease up.

2. If they are having any discomfort in their knees or ankles, have them pull back on the amount of jumping and leaping they are doing. Achilles tendinitis and jumper's knee can easily start during a growth spurt.

3. Encourage your dancer to cross-train during growth spurts. This would be a good time to introduce Pilates, yoga or floor barre into their training regime. Cross-training is good at any point, but if they need to temporarily ease up on some of their dance training, it makes them still feel as if they're getting stronger.

4. Last but not least, let your dancer know what they're going through is a normal consequence of growing up!

To your success,

Deborah Vogel

Director, The Body Series

Got a question for Deb? E-mail, and she may answer it in an upcoming web exclusive.

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