Dancers, both professionals and amateurs, are some of the toughest athletes out there, but they also have some of the sorest feet in the world.
Here’s a quick and dirty run-down of some of the most common dance-related foot injuries I can see and treat.
Scrunched Toes (Hammertoes)
The tension required to keep legs straight and toes pointed during many moves can cause dancers to unnaturally bunch up their toes (not to mention what has to happen to squeeze your feet into ballet shoes!) Over time, the scrunching can create a muscle and tendon imbalance that leaves your toes permanently curled; at that point, medical intervention will be necessary.
Itchy/Scaly Feet (Athlete’s Foot)
The harder you dance, the more your feet sweat, and in the tight, dark environment of a dancer’s shoe, that can lead to fungal growth. To avoid this problem, carefully spray your shoes with anti-fungal spray every time you take them off, and try not to keep sweaty shoes on your feet once your workouts are complete.
A sport that is so focused on your feet means there’s a lot of pressure on these appendages, and a low or flat arch can lead to foot pain. Consider a dance-specific custom orthotic to prevent discomfort while you pirouette.
Bruised, Misshapen or Plain Old Ugly Feet
When you see a beautiful ballet performance, you may often be shocked by how ugly the ballerina’s feet really are—this is due to how much time they spend putting pressure on their toes. Carefully refining your format and limiting your time en pointe can help counter-act the negative effects on your feet.
If you’re experiencing any of these foot problems and it's affecting your ability to dance, come see me in my Houston podiatry practice for a comprehensive evaluation.