Making modern and contemporary possible for the aging dancer! Kidding… but some truth to it…
For the most part, when I think of kneepads I think of those big bulky white ones that we wore in junior high p.e. when playing volleyball. So when a dance classmate mentioned wearing kneepads during modern (and feeling much more confident about floorwork with them), I did get sad – and feel positively geriatric. But then I saw a different classmate wearing some that looked much more streamlined, and hope grew.
I searched online and apparently the item I was looking for was the Bunheads Gel Knee Pads. After calling my local discount dance store and finding out they don’t carry them (or any style of knee pad, which was surprising given how huge the store is), I called the local not-so-discounted dance store which did. Said not-so-discounted shop is actually quite close to home, so off I went.
The store carried two styles of knee pad, a bulkier type for around 10 bucks, and the Bunheads Gel Knee Pads for around $40. Yes, $40 for some knee pads! So about as much as my three favorite leotards and leg warmers put together. But…cheaper than a knee replacement, so I paid up, grumbling on the inside.
I feel like I have to justify why I picked these out instead of the bulky ones for 1/4 of the price. Well, as the back of the package boasts, these are ‘the first gel knee pads made specifically for dancers’ and are supposedly able to be hidden underneath tights on stage, as well as don’t slip around or roll up. And while I’d have to say that they are visible under tights (I haven’t tried wearing two pairs of tights, but I may do that for the show) – picture below – I wouldn’t say they’re distracting. It doesn’t look like, hey that girl’s ready to go to the volleyball game right class! or anything like that. If I wear black leggings – well any actual leggings that are opaque, not tights – they are invisible. I’ll see if I get around to taking another picture to put up.
The store carried two sizes: S/M and L/XL. I got the L/XL and the first time wearing them they felt uncomfortably tight (after several wears they feel much more comfy). I was anticipating this, since some dance stuff tends to run small, which is why I didn’t even bother with the S/M. My legs are rather thin by “normal” standards, but by “dancer” standards they’re XL apparently. Measurements are 14″/35.5 cm circumference around knee, 16″/41 cm around the top of the knee pad band, for comparison. For length, I’m 16″/41cm from hip/greater trochanter to knee, 15.75″/40 cm from knee to ankle/malleolus. (The store had great customer service, as the shopkeeper let me take them out of the package before purchase so I could see what I was getting into. But if you have to buy online, just know they run SMALL)
So, do they work? Yes! I’m able to get on my knees and not be screaming in pain, both then and there and after. At first I doubted them and their effectiveness, and still played it really careful (and besides, this just takes care of my knees and there’s no padding to protect other delicates like my tailbone), but soon as I was feeling completely unhindered. My worries that I wouldn’t be able to continue doing anything that involved any floorwork at all melted away. I only wish I had discovered this product sooner (and, of course, if the price tag was slashed by at least half…).
Here are some truly awful pictures that show how the knee pads look once worn:
I assure you they look much less lumpy from farther away.