Ballet dancers are considered exceptional athletes; they’re not simply dancers; they’re athletes and performers. However, due to the long hours spent standing on their pointed toes, ballet dancers’ feet are susceptible to long-term injuries. Like other athletes, most ballerinas are tenacious and willing to push through the pain to give the best performance that will entertain their audience. They are used to pain and suffering and think it’s normal, so foot pain is typically ignored. It happens mostly to pointe dancers since dancing on pointe is very challenging. Blisters, bunions, corns, and ingrown nails are common when dancing on pointe but can worsen if neglected.
How can Ballet Damaged One’s Foot?
Learn how ballet dancing affects your feet, common foot injuries, and injury-prone foot types.
- Sesamoids are tiny bones in the big toe tendons which serve as a pulley and can be stretched or cracked. Sesamoiditis is caused by bony feet, dancing on hard surfaces, excessive walking, jumping, and shock. The dancer may feel pain during full relevé and have trouble moving her big toe.
- Premature aging of the bones in ballet dancers’ feet is typical. Bone deformation is a common problem for them; occasionally, the tendons that attach to the bones of the feet vanish entirely, and sometimes, both are affected. Ballet dancers’ feet are already shaped differently than those of the ordinary, due to their years of practice, making it difficult for doctors to diagnose bone defects in the dancers.
- Repeated strain on the big toe joint might cause stiffness. Hallux limitus is more common in bunions. Dancing can cause big toe joint inflammation and stiffness over time. Because of pain and stiffness, dancers adjust their weight during demi-pointe. Surgery is sometimes needed.
- Bunions are bony protrusions on the big toe joint that forms when the toe is forced to bend inwards. Pain or swelling may occur. Some bunions or hallux valgus are genetic, but dancers often develop them due to the constant pressure of tight-toe shoes and the increased stress on the medial column when a dancer seeks more ‘turn-out .’Wearing tight shoes can aggravate bunion pain. Gel-like spacers between the toes can aid with anti-inflammatory medicine. Bunion surgery can restrict a dancer’s range of motion.
- Neuromas cause burning or tingling in the ball of the foot and toes. Numbness and cramps may occur. It’s caused by nerve fiber impingement between the metatarsals and toes, commonly between the 2nd and 3rd toes. Nerves can swell and scar. Pain disappears when shoes are removed, indicating they’re too small and tight.
- The plantar fascia links the Heel to the base of the toes. It extends and contracts with each step and can be overused without suitable footwear. Dancers experience heel and arch pain and swelling. It is advised to stretch the gastrocnemius complex, ice, anti-inflammatory medicines, ultrasound, taping, massage, supportive footwear, and orthotics.
- Stress fractures can occur in any bone; however, dancers usually fracture their 2nd metatarsal. This bone is stressed when on pointe, and the foot is maximally plantar-flexed. A stress fracture indicates “too much, too soon” and, in dancers, inadequate toe shoe vamp height and the fracture may be painful and swelling. Due to ballet’s physical demands and the strive for thinness, dancers are prone to stress fractures. Young dancers with amenorrhea (Female Triad Syndrome) don’t eat enough calories, fat, and calcium to produce estrogen, which builds strong bones.
- Achilles tendonitis: The Achilles tendon, the body’s most prominent tendon, permits dancers to rise on pointe. Not lowering the Heel between relevés, tight ribbons around the ankle, and drawstrings or elastic around the Heel can cause tendinitis. Tightness, discomfort, swelling, pain duringrelevé, and a little stretching noise are symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medicines, icing, and stretching are indicated. High heels outside the studio may ease Achilles tendinitis, but extended use will cause it.
- Dancer’s Heel This injury affects the back of the ankle and is dubbed “dancer’s ankle.” Ankle Impingement Syndrome is a disorder where a lump or pressure forms on the back of the foot. It is caused by constant tissue wear when the ankle points in a particular manner.
- This injury affects the back of the ankle and is dubbed “dancer’s ankle.” Ankle Impingement Syndrome is a disorder where a lump or pressure forms on the back of the foot. It is caused by constant tissue wear when the ankle points precisely.
How to Avoid Foot Injury Caused by Ballet?
Wear properly-suited shoes to avoid ballet injuries, especially if you’re dancing en pointe. Pointe shoe fittings can be done by a professional; ask your ballet instructor for a recommendation. Once you’ve purchased your shoes, be sure to treat them gently. Ballet dancers should wait until they are between 11 and 12 before trying the pointe technique. They should avoid doing so because of the potential for growth-plate injuries and incorrect bone development. An accomplished dancer will never put themselves in jeopardy by trying something risky. The same principles apply to avoid damage while dancing as in other sports.
Take note of the following short reminders:
- Make sure you’re getting enough nutrients.
- If you want to increase your training frequency, do it gradually rather than all day.
- Focus on something else if you spend most of one workout on pointe or demi-pointe.
- Hard floors should not be used for dancing.
- It’s best not to dance on floors that aren’t level.
- STOP if you feel any discomfort.
Dancing is an enjoyable pastime. Ballet is a considerably more appealing kind of dance for people drawn to the classics. It is a highly competitive sport, making it difficult to take time off to recuperate or recover from an accident. However, dancing on an injured foot can lead to increased discomfort and, in some circumstances, even irreversible injury if you keep doing it.
All forms of dance—including ballet—are laudable for their physical and emotional benefits and their ability to enhance one’s social life. And if your child is interested in ballet, you should give her a foot, and a lower limb specialist to give them advice and support. Finally, if you’ve sustained an injury to your feet, you should get medical attention from a physician or a podiatrist.