Ballet_Can_Avoid_Common_Foot_Injuries by marcusjames


Ballet Can Avoid Common Foot Injuries

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Many of the common foot injuries sustained by ballet dancers can be
prevented, and treated, by the application of some basic knowledge about
the structure of muscles in the feet. Specific strengthening of the
different muscles can make a huge difference to a career in ballet, or
any other dance discipline. This article discusses the causes and
treatment of common dancers foot injuries.


Article Body:
dancers will complain of some foot injury at some stage in their
training, and professional ballet will often be plagued with chronic foot
injuries, ranging from mild ones that are nursed for years, to severe
injuries that may be career ending.
The truth is that many common foot and ankle „injuries‟ occur as a result
of poor “intrinsic” foot muscle strength. The “intrinsic” foot muscles
are tiny little muscles that start and end within the foot, that help
control the position of a dancer‟s arch, and are responsible for the
control of her toes within the shoe en pointe. If these small muscles are
not working effectively, larger muscles called the “extrinsic” foot
muscles that originate further up the leg become overused, as they
attempt to perform two roles. This often leads to conditions such as
“Anterior Compartment Syndrome”, “Stress Fractures” of the shin bone
(tibia), or „Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome” , commonly known as “Shin

Weakness in the intrinsic foot muscles and overuse of the extrinsic
muscles will also result in the toes „clawing‟ both when rising, and en
pointe. This is the biggest cause behind the nasty blisters that are
often seen in photos of professional ballet dancers; however this does
not have to be the case. Control of the intrinsic allows the middle joint
of the toes to remain straight while fully pointing the rest of the foot.
This does not affect the look of the line of the foot, but does make
dancing much more enjoyable when free of pain!

In many other sports, orthotic devices may be worn in the footwear
required that will help stabilize the arch and settle symptoms related to
poor intrinsic muscle strength. Unfortunately, in ballet slippers these
orthotics cannot be worn (although many have attempted this!) so the
dancer is often left to „live with‟ symptoms, or have repeated extended
breaks from dancing.

With correct strengthening combined with gentle stretching however, many
of these „chronic‟ injuries settle very quickly. “The Perfect Pointe
Book” is a comprehensive collection of many exercises designed to
specifically strengthen the foot muscles needed in any ballet dancer.
While initially designed to help girls strengthen their feet before going
onto pointe, this book is essential reading for any dancer, especially if
they have had, or currently have any foot injuries. The exercises have
been developed after years of working closely with ballet dancers, and
seeing first-hand what is most effective in regaining control of these
small muscles.

Often ballet teachers find the specifics of training the foot strength
needed for pointe work difficult as it came naturally to them. However
for many people, the isolated strength needed in the feet must be
specifically trained, especially nowadays, as many children who grow up
in cities spend little time bare foot on different surfaces, which
naturally trains the tiny intrinsic muscles of the feet. Understanding
how these muscles should work when dancing is imperative in a long,
injury free, career in dance.

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