8 year old daughter, EDS hypermobility in Dance Classes

My daughter is 8 and is in her 4th year of dance; her 4th year of ballet and 1st of jazz. It's her first year at a new dance studio. Her jazz teacher is emphasizing stretching and flexibility, and I'd like to write a letter (for both teachers) explaining EDS, hypermobility, and why it might hurt my daughter more when they push her to do the splits. Does anybody have any suggestions? I don't want my daughter to be singled out, she loves the classes and hasn't started feeling adverse affects of the training. I think it would be good for her through her early years to continue dance through controlled movements if she can learn the proper range of motion with help from her teachers.

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My EDS daughter has a diagnosis from proffessor Grahame and is a champion acrobatic gymnast ,apparently a lot of dancers/ gymnasts have Hypermobile EDS and it makes them good at what they do,as long as she listens to her body and her teachers listen to you and her the strengthening of the muscles and fitness is good for them.Good luck!

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I saw a medical journal article, which I don't think I can easily find again, saying that among younger dancers there was a high proportion of people with hypermobility, but the proportion was much lower among dancers a few years older. The researchers inferred that this was because hypermobile dancers are at increased risk of hurting themselves and therefore dropping out of dance. I now have arthritis in almost all my most (previously) hypermobile joints, and apparently had it in my 30's or before.

Please follow your instincts-- they are correct and justified. Look at the material on the EDNF.org website explaining EDS, or go to the hypermobility orgnaization, http://www.hypermobility.org/, and find something "official" you can show them. You will need to help them understand the distinction between harmless hypermobility, and the kind that puts your joints at risk.

Dance classes often get very competitive about who can stretch the farthest, push themselves the most, and so anyone in that sort of class is at risk of injury, as anyone who isn't listening to their body is at risk of injury. But it is also true that good muscular development is the best protection for joints.

good luck, speranza

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It's a double-edged sword. I was a competetive gymnast....they Looooovvvved my flexibility. Who knew it was a bad thing?

I think it helped my coordination and muscle development for joint stability. I also think it injured my joints and I have greater pain now than I would have had I engaged in a more joint-friendly activity.

Tread gently with gymnastics and dance....Good luck.

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I have a six year old daughter, and a four year old son. My geneticist told me NOT to put them in ballet, dance, gymnastics or yoga. Of course, those are all the thing I excelled at and loved. So far, I have listened to her advice. I figured if they didn't start these things, they wouldn't have to quit them if they became symptomatic. So, we stick to soccer, girl scouts, art classes etc.... But I can't help but wonder if they are missing out at something they could be good at. Then, I look at myself, my joints, my body, my pain..... For now, I listen to the geneticist. I'm sure there is some info you can provide for her teachers regarding safe range of motion, etc.. The biggest thing is to make sure your daughter knows what not to do. It won't be easy, especially because she feels good and excels at it!


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I know this is exactly opposite of what you want to hear but take them out of dance. I was in sports all the time. Basketball, track, volleyball. But one by one i stopped doing them because I couldnt. volleyball through out my shoulders worse than anything then basketball started to really bad then i did track and screwed up my knees. The worse the sport the quicker they will have joint problems bigger than soreness.

When my dr found out id gone out for track as a jumper he just about slapped me. I wish he had. within a week my knee was sprained. i was out for 3 weeks with a straight brace. She does need to build up the muslces around her joints but sports even dancing isnt the way to do it. Its too much strain. I know she may not feel it now but im 19 and I wish someone had limited my sports when i was younger. I haven't done any sport since track freshman year...four years ago. I can now barely lift weights because the resistance of the machine alone is enough to strain my quads.

Keep her active maybe do a simple yoga class - one without poses that will over stretch her tendons/ligaments. Like doing the sun salutation would be great to build leg muscles.

or maybe go to the gym together do the eliptical (low impact ) and bike

as long as shes got someone to do it with her and make it fun it wont seem like shes losing a sport but strengthening a relationship with her mom or whover does it with her.

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I wouldn't necessarily remove her. The issue is really avoiding impact, and most dance forms make avoiding impact a central focus in training. But there is one caveat here - ballet in particular tends to be part of an old culture that involves 'suffering for your art'. And that's where it can be a problem. The best explanation I ever got was "it only hurts if you're doing it wrong. Don't do that." It was the single most valuable piece of information I ever got, actually. Talk to the teachers and see if they can grasp that idea. Her hypermobility should serve HER - not them. If they can grasp this, good. If not, consider letting her move into another school or a different dance form if she wants. I wouldn't rec flamenco, tap, or Irish step, for obvious reasons. But she'd probably do well in jazz, Latin, folk, or ballroom.

Actually - here's a rule of thumb for you. If it's done barefoot or in soft shoes, good. If it's done in shoes that have metal, wooden clogs, or hard leather soles on the bottoms, limp away before you have to be rolled away. The only exception to that rule is Argentine Tango, where hard-soled shoes are only worn by custom rather than necessity.

If she doesn't want to do any of that, then swimming is good and will serve the same purpose in strengthening muscle without impact.

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Just to clarify, I have no intentions of removing my daughter from dance class, and I'm not seeking advice on that subject. What I'm trying to do is write a letter to her dance teachers to educate them on EDS and hypermobility. Does anybody have any suggestions on what I can say in this letter? Thank you to everybody for your input.

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I thought we had pretty much covered that stuff, but I suppose we could restate it to make writing your letter easier. I think you need to just explain to them that she has Ehlers Danlos, which is a connective tisue disorder that causes her hypermobility. She needs to focus on gaining a better sense of proprioception and developing muscle strength. Anything which she finds painful must absolutely be avoided because it is doing permanent tissue damage she cannot recover from. When she becomes tired, she needs to take a break. This child will learn better and become stronger with brief frequent repetition than with intense practice such as other students may do. Add a pamphlet from the EDNF site, make yourself available to answer any questions, sincerely, and out.

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