Dance is one of the most unique modern sports. Combining artistic expression and musicality, with the physical demands of an elite athlete. Whether you choose to dance for fitness, enjoy the socialisation of participating in a class or are training to become a professional in the industry, all physically active people are at risk of injury and dancers are no exception. People new to dancing, be they young or old, should build their strength and flexibility slowly and safely to avoid sustaining one of the common dance injuries. This issue will focus on common injuries that dancers sustain in their feet. While the following list are commonly seen, they are by no means the only possible feet injuries that dancer could sustain.
Lateral ankle sprain
Rolling over the outside of the ankle while on demipoint, sickling the foot or landing from a jump, all can lead to a lateral ankle sprain. Most commonly the anterior talofibula ligament (ATFL) is affected.
Is chronic pain and inflammation to the underneath of the foot (plantar fascia), especially around the heel bone.
This is a progressive overuse injury common in dancers due to excessive pointing of the foot (plantar flexion).
Dancer’s Fracture (5th metatarsal)
Often sustained when landing incorrectly from a jump. Pain on the outside of the foot (along the 5th metatarsal) will be instantly evident and most people will not be able to weight bear on the effected foot.
Hallux Valgus and Bunion
This is a progressive injury of the big toe associated with the foot rolling in (pronation) while in a turned out position. Pain will be greatest with jumping and landing.
This is characterised by pain and tenderness along the ball of the foot. For dancers, this is commonly caused by instability in the joints of the smaller toes.
What can you do to reduce your risk of injury?
- One of the most important ways to prevent dance injuries is to take the time to properly warm up the major muscles of the body, including the muscles of the feet.
- Take adequate rest to allow the body to heal itself from daily wear and tear.
- Maintain energy levels by eating and drinking adequately.
- Try to avoid dancing on hard or uneven surfaces, which could cause injury.
- Early recognition of symptoms is important. Stop activity if pain or swelling occurs. If pain persists after a few days rest, consult a physiotherapist.