Professional dancers are some of the most hard-working athletes. Some show performances can last for hours, and roles can demand on-stage presence for the majority of that time. If the show is performing twice a day the demands on the body are extraordinary. The weeks and months of training and rehearsal in the lead up to the performance season is also very taxing. Is it any wonder that dancers’ feet are prone to pain and injury?
A combination of a heavy workload and reticence to take time off from dancing form the main cause of injury for dancers’ feet. Ballet dancers suffer particularly due to the strenuous feet positioning required to perform many roles, on pointe perhaps the best well-known of these. Because there is often hesitation to rest acquired injuries they often become worse or develop complications over time.
Dancers’ feet can often develop blisters, bunions and corns. These develop through persistent rubbing inside the shoes and unnatural pressure on the toes. Toughened layers of skin can form as calluses which may be protective initially but can lead to split skin between the toes. Even this injury progression can get worse if the split skin becomes infected or inflamed.
Neuroma is another condition that can affect a dancers’ feet. It’s a nerve condition makes forefoot and toes painful or numb. There may be recurring burning and inflammation, too.
Broken bones are not unusual for dancers either. Many continue to dance regardless. Toes and the fifth metatarsal bone (the fine bone on the outside of the foot that connects with the little toe) are common break points. Stress fractures can also develop over time. This painful hairline cracks can appear in the bones of the feet along with those in the lower leg. If breaks are not allowed to heal, errant bone fragments can cause further damage and pain until they can be surgically removed.
Achilles tendonitis and posterior impingement syndrome both cause pain and reduce a dancer’s ability to meet the required range of motion. If these injuries are not treated in their early stages surgery may be required to correct the damage.
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Whilst Enertor has over 18 years Orthotics experience, our blog content is provided for informational purposes only and it is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical advice. Enertor advises anyone with an injury to seek their own medical advice – and do not make any health or medical related decisions based solely on information found on this site.