Foot Care for Dancers

20 Sep Foot Care for Dancers

Treating Common Dance-Related Injuries

Dancing has become enormously popular as a way to stay fit and have fun. The popularity of dance-related television shows and movies have contributed to this trend that shows no sign of stopping.

There are roughly 76,000 professional dancers and choreographers in the U.S. That number doesn’t include amateur dancers or those enrolled in dance classes, who number in the hundreds of thousands. That’s a lot of moving. It can also lead to a lot of foot and ankle injuries. Shuman Podiatry and Sports Medicine have the expertise to treat all types of dance-related injuries.

Common Injuries by Dance Type

Dancers’ movements require constantly twisting the foot, putting full body weight on the toe and other movements that aren’t natural, often on hard surfaces. That can lead to many different injuries. Here’s a rundown of some of the common lower-body injuries that afflict dancers.

Ballet Dancers

  • Ankle Sprains
  • Chronic shin splints
  • Dancer’s fracture, a break of the long bone on the outside of the foot
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Turf toe

Cheerleaders

  • Patellar tendonitis, a strain of the knee ligaments
  • Ankle Sprains
  • Inflammation of the shinbones
  • Achilles tendonitis

Ballroom Dancers

  • Bunions
  • Metatarsalgia, a strain of the tendons in the ball of the foot
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Sesamoiditis, a particularly serious form of Achilles tendonitis

Treatment of Dance-Related Injuries

Most of these conditions will require a similar treatment plan to ease pain and prevent further injury. The recommended mode of treatment will typically include:

  • complete rest of the affected foot or ankle;
  • ice compressions to receive swelling and pain;
  • custom orthotics to improve gait and relieve pressure;
  • in some cases, an immobilizing cast;
  • pain medications;
  • thorough post-treatment rehabilitation.

Dancers’ Risk Factors for Injury

  • Long hours of rehearsal, especially on hard surfaces
  • Dancers’ insistence of performing in spite of the pain
  • Improperly fitted shoes
  • Failure to thoroughly warm up before rehearsing
  • Using improper technique

Nutrition Concerns

Sports medicine professionals point to another common problem that faces dancers and cheerleaders, especially younger ones. There is enormous pressure to stay thin and lightweight in the world of competitive dance, just as there is in competitive gymnastics and figure skating. As a result, eating disorders are sadly common among some groups of dancers.

Improper nutrition makes it more difficult to recover from injuries. If you’re a dancer or have a child who is, make sure you’re not sacrificing good nutrition to maintain a certain weight.

Preventing Dance and Cheer Injuries

  • Always warm up and cool down thoroughly.
  • Pay close attention to any symptoms of strain and visit a podiatrist if you experience heel, shin or toe pain.
  • Cross-train to strengthen all your muscles, not just those you use for dance.
  • Don’t perform if you’re tired or in pain.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and are specifically indicated for your type of dance.
  • Wear custom orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist to correct alignment and protect your feet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight with a nutritious diet.

How a Podiatrist Can Help

At Shuman Podiatry and Sports Medicine, we are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of dance-related injuries. We provide supportive, holistic care that includes the latest diagnostic techniques and 3D imaging to create our custom orthotics.

If sprains, strains and overuse injuries are interfering with your love of dance, call us and make an appointment today. We’ll prescribe a treatment regimen that will help you feel better and get you back on the dance floor.

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