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I am wondering if anyone has dealt with an Achilles Tendon injury, and how they got back on track to dance again.  I had an injury just over a year ago.  Micro tears, and lots of pain.  I was dancing in a play, and toughed it out to finish, and went to Physical Therapy when I was done.  Since then I have had healing to the point of no pain at all, and even danced sometimes with no pain, then it hits again (always during a show) and WHAM!  After I can get this healed again, I am wondering if anyone has had good luck with strengthening, support of some kind, so I can make it strong and get to enjoy dancing pain free again!

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What kind of dance are you doing in your shows and what kind of shoes are you wearing when you feel the pain?

It's been varied.  The initial injury was during tap.  After that, it's been any kind of musical theater dance with hip hop shoes, or jazz shoes.  Once it is bad, it bothers me no matter what shoes I am wearing, and any type of dance, but anything jumpy/high energy is the worst.

Does it bother you more when you are pushing up (like onto releve' or into a jump or turn) or when you are landing or stepping down ?

Some discomfort when pushing up, but mostly the landing.  Anything where I'm not coming fully down to full foot on the floor and then into plie.  Hence, the tap is very painful, with being on the balls of the feet and lots of bouncing.  I would love to tap again, and have a show they want me to choreograph for next fall.  At this point, it is too much unless I can get this to heal and stay that way.  I really appreciate any information you or anyone has, as it seems many people have worse injuries to their Achilles tendons, and are in professional sports that they go back to, so I keep thinking there must be a way for recovery.

I am wondering if you are sure that it is really your achilles tendon causing the problem.  While your initial injury may have been to the achilles, you might have set yourself up for some compensation patterns or loss of mobility in others areas of your foot that are actually causing the current problem.    Since you are having more problem with the landing you might want to have your soleus muscle assessed.  It is works as the control and decelerator and if it is not functioning properly you will have problems into the achilles area (the soleus connects into the achilles).  If the arch of your foot doesn't have enough give to it upon weight bearing it will not properly function as a shock absorber and again this can cause increased discomfort in the ball of the foot position.   There are over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments (combined) in each foot / ankle.  A problem in any of those could be contributing to or causing the pain.  It might be worth finding a PT, podiatrist or orthopedist with a foot and ankle fellowship and get an assessment of your feet to rule out other problems.  www.iadms.org has a directory of members who are medical practitioners with a dance specialty.  There are also several dance medicine facilities around the country.  NYC has the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries and Westside Physical Therapy, California has facilities at USC and UCSF.  In the Portland, OR area check out Pacific Northwest Pilates - Melanie Byford Young, Seattle WA has Dancindoc - Seattle Dance Medicine Clinic, New Orleans, LA - Tulane Dance Medicine Clinic, Denver / Boulder CO - Denver Dance Medicine.  You might also try contacting the nearest professional dance company in your area and asking who they refer their dancers to.

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