Dancers spend hours every week training. Dancing places a high physical demand on the body, especially the feet.
A dancer’s foot and ankle are crucial in performing most ballet techniques, including en pointe, demi-pointe, and pliѐ.
There are many injuries that can occur at the foot and ankle complex. However, the most common foot injuries in dancers are lateral ankle sprains, Achilles tendonitis, metatarsal stress fractures, and tibialis posterior strain/tears.
Below are the most common foot injuries in dancers and their symptoms
Posterior Impingement Syndrome
- Pain in the back of the ankle, especially when going on pointe or performing a relevé.
- Most common in dancers who do pointe or demi-pointe.
- Pain and stiffness in the posterior heel area due to compression in the posterior aspect of the ankle.
- Compression occurs when the foot is in full plantarflexion (pointing down)
- Pain may be achy or sore and is aggravated by long periods of sitting and increased activity.
Anterior Impingement Syndrome
- Pain in the front of the ankle especially when performing pliés and sometimes unable to perform full plié because of the pain.
- Compression occurs when the foot is in full dorsiflexion (pointing up).
- Pain may be achy or sore or pinchy in nature.
- The calf feels tight and painful, especially during jump routines.
- Can present with some swelling, stiffness, and weakness at the back of the ankle.
- Stiffness and pain can be felt when getting out of bed the next morning after dance class.
- Heel pain on the first steps when getting out of bed in the morning.
- Pain feels better once warmed up and moving but can increase after dance class.
- Pain when getting up after sitting for long periods of time.
- Tenderness can also be present in the arch of the foot.
Lateral Ankle Sprain
- The lateral ligaments of the foot can be overstretched or torn.
- Swelling, tenderness, and bruising on the outside of the ankle.
- Difficulty weight bearing or the feeling of an unstable/ weak ankle.
- Can occur if there is a sudden increase in dance frequency, intensity or duration of training.
- Frequently occurs in the long bones of the foot, usually the second and third metatarsal bone.
- Pain while walking, and swelling may be present.
- Pain does not get better once warmed up but feels worse.
- Aching and pain may be present at night.
Tips to Reduce the Risk of Injuries in Dancers
- Proper training is essential to develop the skills needed for dancing, without putting the dancers at risk of injury
- Adequate rest to allow the body to heal.
- Strengthening of the lower limb muscles and core muscles.
- Gradually increase the dancing intensity, frequency, and duration instead of doing too much too soon to avoid overload.
- Get appropriate and well-fitted footwear to support the dancer’s feet.
- Avoid dancing on uneven surfaces which can cause injury.
- Book in a pre-pointe assessment prior to going on pointe at Well Heeled Podiatry.
- Seek professional advice if there is any pain or discomfort in the foot and ankle
We use a variety of treatment options which include;