Sunday, 5 May 2013

Health Column - Preventing knee injury - Veena Basavarajaiah

(This article was orignially posted on November 17, 2011)

Most Bharatanatyam dancers at some point in their professional careers have experienced knee injuries. While some injuries like sprains have lasted for a few days, ligament tears have resulted in the end of many dancing careers. Is it the form itself or the mode of practice that makes the knee most susceptible to damage and causes excruciating physical pain and emotional trauma?

The technique of Bharatanatyam requires the dancer to stay in demi plié / araimandi for long periods of time. While dancing in this posture, the lower back, gluteus, thighs and feet are at constant work. Extensive foot work, the full plié / muzhumandis and lunges exert additional pressure on the knees. The ‘araimandi,’ an essential aesthetic of the form is not natural to the body. It takes years of training and building strength to attain a good 'araimandi' and many people with short Achilles tendon will not be able to achieve a deep plié because of their body structure itself. Teachers must be aware of the limitations of each individual’s body and not push every student to dance in a deep demi plié.
Read the article in the site 

Comments posted upto May 5, 2013

The knee has one degree of freedom - but unless the musculature is perfectly strong, the knee twists, and leads to injuries. Having enough strength to move the knee in the right direction is not the same as having the strength to keep it from twisting wrongly.

The back and knee are two things that are compromised for 95% of people including athletes and dancers and even so called martial artists.

Tendon strength and flexibility training is often ignored, since it takes long and shows no visible results.

To be in any physical art and survive intact, one needs to study various disciplines including anatomy.
This is one of the areas where more studies are needed by persons who possess the knowledge of Bharathanatyam and a medicine degree. A full time dance college or an institution must include the human anatomy as basic subject to study these injuries. Have any conventions dealt with this subject ? Is there any person who can we reach regarding this issue ?·  
Monisha16 February 2012 13:35
Knee injuries also have psychological implications in recovery. The feeling of helplessness and despair is one I'm sure many dancers have experienced. It's important to be positive and patient. No two rehabilitation stories can be the same. An online community for injured bharatanatyam dancers would be helpful I'm sure.

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  1. I am a new member to narthaki and just read your article. I am a bharatnatyam as well as an odissi dancer but unfortunately I have suffered some serious knee trauma. The doctor said that I have worn out my knee cartilage. The rehabilitation is slow and painful and irritating considering I am not able to give 100% to my dance. It would be great if I could touch base with someone who can help me regarding this.

    Again thank you for all the asanas.

  2. Anterior Cruciate Ligament surgery(ACL) is a common type of knee injury in athletes. Its symptoms are joints that easily move beyond the normal range expected for a particular joint. ACL tear

  3. This is very common with dancers especially with bharatnatanatyam dancers that they face knee injuries. They should take care of the dancing etiquette so that they can keep them self safe from any kind of injuries. For any kind of little pains they can use tiger balm white ointment that is perfect for pain relief treatment.

  4. Knee arthroscopy is a surgical method that can detect and treat problems in the knee joint.ofcourse, there are other conservative approach wherein you will be just on medication for the knee injury.

  5. There are two very useful books to help prevent and treat knee pain; Fix Your Own Pain by Dr Jolie Bookspan and "Trigger Point Therapy Workbook' by Clair Davies. Trigger points are small points of tension in the muscle that can be csused by many reasons, including overuse. Knees have no nerves so if there is pain, it's coming from tendons and muscles, most likely trigger points in the muscles.The book allows you to diagnose and self-treat with massage. If TP's aren't treated they can weaken muscle and result in injury. The book by Dr. Bookspan explains the posture defects that result in knee pain and how to fix them e.g. when ascending stairs, keep the weight on the heel so that muscles, not the knee, are doing the work. The posture in dancing where the knee is bent way over the foot is the one likely to cause injury. Surgery has been shown to be no more effective than doing nothing. Knees heal slowly and you need to keep pressure off them while doing so, but they also need a lot of motion to heal properly.

  6. There was a good blend of medical info that went well with info from Bharatanatyam practices. The concision was also very good, and this serves as a nice primer to the full article. People who do this must be very skilled!

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