Ballerina with Achilles Tendonitis

by Karen Berggren
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Dear Mr. Tucker,

My 16 year-old daughter is a serious ballet student and is hoping to try her RAD Advanced 2 ballet exam this spring. She has been plagued with achilles tendonitis in her right leg for the past 2 years, and it is getting worse. We have seen our family physician who recommended physiotherapy, which did not seen to help at all.

We are currently seeing a chiropractor, which seemed to help initially but is not helping anymore. My daughter is so upset at the idea of having to stop training for months in order to heal this problem (which is what we have been told). Have you got any suggestions as to what she can do to get this problem under control? We appreciate any help you can offer.

Thank you so much!


Joshua Answers:

Hi Karen. Sorry to hear about your daughter's Achilles issues.

Balet can be tough on the Achilles, but I'd rather deal with that that the toe/foot damage they get.

Still, both can be prevented if done right, and reversed if caught soon enough.

Some thoughts, then some questions.

1. Get her Vitamin D3 levels checked. I bet you a dollar she's low. Vit D3 plays such a big role in health and pain, and everyone is deficient, so I recommend it
to everyone. And Vit D deficiency is clearly linked to breast cancer, so you can't go wrong getting your whole family's levels up.

2. She needs to start eating more protein. Not enough protein means not enough building blocks to rebuild what gets broken down on a daily basis.

You literally can't heal wihtout enough protein.

3. How motivated is she? It will take some effort to turn this around, especially if she continues to be active on her feet. Is she willing to do the work?


1. Did the pain suddenly appear, or did it sneak up over time?

2. Please describe the pain, as much detail as possible. Where, when, how long, how bad, etc.

3. Anything else interesting/valuable for me to know?

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Oct 01, 2009
PART 2 - Ballerina With Achilles Tendonitis
by: Katren Berggren

Hi Joshua,
Thank you so much for your quick response.

I cannot tell you how thrilled we are to hear that it can be rectified with some effort!

Meredith is very motivated and will do whatever it takes to get this problem under control. Last night, after dance, she did the ice baths. She soaked her foot (it's the left one, by the way) for 15 second intervals 10 times over the course of an hour (every six minutes).

The pain was gradual in onset. It gets better in the summer when she doesn't dance, but then begins again in the fall when she starts to dance. This year, however, it has started up with a vengeance. It is usually not this painful in September!

The pain starts right above the heel (on boths sides above her heel) and radiates throughout her ankle and up the back of the tendon about three inches. It never comes close to her calf. There is swelling at the top of her heel and the chiropractor says he can feel scar tissue, which he massages to break it up.

Sometimes it hurts during day when she is walking a lot, i.e. going to the mall, but as a rule it does not hurt during the day (when she is walking around at school, etc.) It also hurts first thing in the morning, but the pain stops after she has her shower.

The pain is the worst when she dances, i.e. points her foot and when she is up on pointe. The left foot seems weaker because of the pain, and it is difficult to get up on pointe on that left leg.

Do we need to limit this activity for a while? I am so scared that she will snap that tendon!

Obviously, she would prefer to do ballet in moderation, and stop doing anything that is causing her a lot of pain, than to have to stop totally for a length of time. What is your feeling on this?

Thank you so much for your is appreciated more than you know.


P.S. You mentioned Vitamin D which we will get...also want to get Omega 3s for her. Regarding protein, would you recommend the protein shakes for her?

Another thing I forgot to mention is that we are definitely going to look into accupunture as well to treat this!

Thank you so much again,



Joshua Comments:

You're welcome Karen, no problem.

Protein shakes, sure. Make sure it's protein isolate not concentrate. If you can get pure whey (isolate), even better because then it's pure protein.

Egg whites, cottage cheese, meat, etc. Drinks are easy to do.

I don't know how much calorie intake she does, but take protein on top of that.

RE: Vit D, make sure it's Vit D3. Check out the Vitamin D pages on my Kerri's

I'll answer the rest later today, gotta run.

Oct 01, 2009
PART3 - Ballerina with Achilles Tendonitis
by: The Tendonitis Expert

Ok, where was I?

Should you take a break from activity that hurts the achilles?

Rest and stopping/lessening activity is fine for the first 7 days or so...-IF- a person is hitting it hard with self care.

Rest itself won't help. Minimizing irritation to the structure while you perform activities that help the Tendonitis dynamic, will.

So she should probably lighten the load for a week or so while she works to 'fix' her Achilles.

1. Bucket of arctic cold ice water. 10-20 second dips, getting the leg in as far as possible. As many times as possible throughout the day. The more she does, the faster pain will go away, the quicker we can start some other activities.

If all she does is ice dip like crazy, increase her protein intake, keep things moving and LIGHT stretching, for the next 5-7 days, that will be perfect for right now.

I could have her do lots of things, but if she just focuses on the ice dipping, intensely, that will prepare her for the rest. First things first, and ice dipping to start clearing the whole ecology of pain enhancing chemicals from the Process of Inflammation is the first step.

Have her hit hard with the ice dipping for 5-7 days, keep me updated, and we'll go from there.

And sure, do the acupuncture. That can't hurt, and may very well help.

Oct 01, 2009
PART 4 - Ballerina With Achilles Tendonitis
by: Karen Berggren

Hi Joshua,
Meredith will "ice bath" like crazy for the next week! We'll contact you after that to let you know how it's going!

Thank you !!!!!




Like Crazy!

Just for fun, keep track of how many times a day she dips. 70 dips is the most I've ever heard of anyone doing.

(If she's competitive, have her beat that! :)

Jul 30, 2012
16 Year Old Equestrian with severe wrist pain!
by: Horsegirl's mom

My daughter is 16 years old and has been riding horses for about 11 years. She has had many falls but never anything that caused pain in her wrist.

She has however damaged muscles in her hip and caused it to go permanently numb. Her wrist pain started about a year ago, but will only hurt for a few weeks at a time, and then go away for about 2 or 3 months. She has pain on the outside of her wrist (opposite side from her palm.) It is on her wrist line, but directly infront of her index finger. It is on her right hand, and she is left handed.

I was curious to see if it could be from equestrian activities? She helps at the farm she rides at helping tack up horses which invloves tightening girths on many horses at a time. She is out there at least 4 days a week and will tighten at least 7 horses girths everyday. And she tightens a girth with her right hand.

She cannot rotate her wrist, put weight on it, or flex it at all when it does flare up. She keeps it in a wrist brace, and will put ice on it frequently during a flare up. I wasnt sure if it was just a tweak she did or since it happens repeatedly, it it could be something that needed more attention.


Joshua Comments:

Hi HM.

Yes, this definitely needs more attention.

She's an active, passionate, hard working girl. It's incredibly unlikely that her wrist pain etc is going to to just go away on it's own as she continues her usual activities.

And her hip is numb? That's not good. That's not good at all.

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