Common Foot Injuries To Watch For In Ballet
Ballet is a beautiful and rigorous sport that hones dancers' muscles, balance, and discipline. But the same intense training that creates poised and controlled athletes can also impact their bodies, and it's all too easy to ignore a nagging pain until it becomes a larger issue. This is especially true for the feet, which are subjected to high forces and repetitive motion in ballet. Whether you are a ballet dancer or a watchful parent, keep an eye out for these common foot injuries to prevent them from turning into long-lasting problems.
Your sesamoid bones sit under the ball of your foot, near the base of the big toe. As a dancer trains for en pointe work, these bones may chafe against the tendon running through them. This leads to sensitivity around the ball of the foot, which can manifest as throbbing pain or difficulty walking. If you or your child are beginning en relevé exercises, it's especially important to contact a physical therapist over this type of pain.
Tendonitis occurs when a tendon grows inflamed through overuse. In dancers, this frequently occurs in both the Achilles tendon and the flexor hallucis longus (FHL). The FHL muscle and tendon is the same one that runs through your sesamoid bones to the big toe. It wraps up through the ankle, making it an important part of foot and toe movement.
Tendonitis can be avoided by taking adequate rests between exercises and massaging muscles and tendons to relieve tension. You can also decrease the odds of tendonitis by developing muscles through other sports and exercises. If you or your child do experience tendonitis, the injury will need time to heal or risk a tendon rupture.
Perhaps one of the most universal ballet injuries, sprained ankles are nearly inevitable. One rolled ankle or bad landing can stress the ligaments around the joint. Thankfully, ankle sprains usually just need a bit of ice and time to recover. After a few sprains, however, it may be wise to monitor their healing more carefully.
Like ankle sprains, stress fractures are common but not unavoidable. Also known as hairline fractures, they occur when too much strain is placed on delicate bones over a long period of time. As always, the key to preventing stress fractures is to stay in tune with your body and not hesitate to take breaks when you feel pain. But if you suspect that you or your child have a stress fracture, immediate treatment is needed to prevent the fracture from spreading.
Plantar fasciitis affects people from all walks of life, including ballet dancers. The ligaments that cushion the heel and connect it to the front of your foot grow irritated as it arches and strikes the ground. This condition is easily recognized by heel pain as you walk, particularly in the morning. If caught early, plantar fasciitis may be treated with rest, ice, and localized steroid injections. More severe cases, however, may require surgical correction.
Contact a local ballet academy, such as Heidi Knight School of Dance, to learn more about ballet.