Darcey Bussell- 'After years of ballet my hips are crumbling'
June 2007 Darcey Bussell retired from performing because of her hip pain. These excerpts are from articles that appeared in the UK in which she talks candidly about the toll dancing has taken on her body and her subsequent hip resurfacing. There are links to the full stories. - NR
Photo NY Times 06.11.07
" Ten years ago, an orthopaedic surgeon told me that my hips were only 50 per cent as good as they should be for someone my age and that I would probably need hip replacement operations.
The X-ray he showed me made my blood run cold. This is one of the reasons why, although my daughters adore ballet as a hobby, I have no ambitions for them to follow in my footsteps.
Ballet requires movements which are very unnatural. With every step, you do a circular movement of the hip. You turn out from the hip and make your knees point out to the side, instead of forward.
I have suffered pains deep in the pelvis, and when repeating a movement over and over I would get a grinding sensation as the cartilage that stops the bones rubbing against each other was being eroded. The orthopaedic surgeon said that if ever I had hip or groin pain, I should rest until the pain went. However, resting is not part of a dancer's life - so I just danced through the pain.
Although such pain is unimaginable for many people, it's a dancer's lot. But the hours of practice, rehearsal, costume fittings, travel and performances add up.
Now I have decided that the time is right to retire and I shall dance at Covent Garden for the last time on June 8.
My daughters are growing up and I want to be able to spend more time with them. And I'm hoping that by stopping at the age of 37, I can avoid the hip surgery which would have become inevitable if I carried on.
Damage to the hip joints is progressive, but with a good diet, supplements such as glucosamine (which reduces inflammation) and chondroitin (which slows cartilage breakdown), plus gentle exercise, I just pray I will be able to avoid the surgery."
The full article written by Moira Petty can be found here
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UPDATE October 2015
Darcey had her hip resurfaced in 2014
"I had the resurfacing because I was too young to have a replacement. A lot of retired ballerinas have [hip replacements] but they usually wait until they are in their 60s, not 40s. I just think, look, how lucky are we that we can have titanium put in our bodies and it do wonders," she says.
Almost 20 years ago a surgeon told Bussell her hips were only 50 per cent as strong as they should be for someone her age because of the pressure dancing puts on them, and she has long suspected she might need them replaced.
Bussell is keen to point out that not all retired ballerinas need have their body parts removed or replaced in later life though.
"I was incredibly supple and did gymnastics as well. So half of my injuries are because I am over-supple and the joints could always go that little bit further. But I was happy to push and I have no regrets. That is important to say. It's not a horror show. My body feels great now," she says.
The above is excerpted from an article by India Sturgis, published 18 Oct 2015
Read the whole article lavishly illustrated by clicking here