Dancers tend to have a number of foot problems; ballet dancers being the worst. The reasons for this are fairly obvious, though rarely mentioned, except when foot injuries occur. In fact, of all the patients we see at our Seattle foot and ankle clinic, including other dancers and athletes, ballet dancers’ feet change the most over time, due to the incredible stress placed on the bones, ligaments, and tendons of their feet.
What is “Ballet dancers’ feet”?
The long-term damage done to the feet of dancers has been recognized for years, and even has become known as a condition called “Ballet dancers’ feet.” Due to the constant strain on their lower extremities; the leaping and landing; the twisting, turning, and straining for unnatural body positions, ballet dancers feet tend to become deformed. Their toes may twist unnaturally; their toe nails become discolored, turning opaque or black, while also losing their shape; the soles of their feet become hard, dry, and cracked; while their feet begin to bulge with bunions and they develop unsightly, painful corns and calluses. Feet with this much damage are what we now call Ballet dancers’ feet.
Beyond this external damage to their feet however, ballet dancers may suffer a multitude of internal foot injuries; including torn ligaments, ankle sprains, foot fractures and – especially common, stress fractures to the bones of dancers’ feet and toes.
While virtually all dancers will suffer from some of these symptoms, ballet dancers are uncommonly prone to disfigured feet and a wide variety foot injuries. In fact, it would not be out of line to say that ballet dancers suffer more foot injuries and foot disfigurement than any other type of high-stress activity; including sports and other forms of dance.
Constant care must be given to the feet of ballet dancers, especially to the feet of children who are just beginning to train and dance ballet, to prevent long-term damage.
If you enjoy high levels of activity that place great stress on your feet, and have begun to develop any of the symptoms of Ballet dancers’ feet listed above, make an appointment with your Seattle podiatrist today at the Foot & Ankle Center of Washington for an expert evaluation, treatment, and relief.
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