I hope that you are dancing with all your heart. And that you take care of your feet while you dance to prevent injury. The dancing injuries stalk the active performers on reality TV’s Dancing with the Stars can be a concern for all dancers. Professional dancers may seem to be more apt to suffer foot injuries from the repetitive motions of their choreography, but amateur dancers risk lacking skills to get the best action from repetitive moves leading to the dreaded foot injury. Being “light on your feet” may not be enough to spare your feet and ankles, whether in a professional performance, having a fun folk dancing exercise session or a fine night out on the town.
I have found that these most common over use injuries are responsible for over 50% of the dance injuries we see. The damage is affected by the patient’s age, flexibility, strength, and of course the selection of shoes worn when dancing.
Other common types of injuries related to dancing can include:
- stress fractures (hairline breaks in the bone) from repeated jumping and landing
- foot neuromas (thickening/irritation of the nerves in the ball of the foot) resulting from repetitive pivoting
- shin splints (pain and swelling in the front of the lower legs) which can be aggravated by recurring activities
- tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons in the foot) from over exertion
- corns, calluses or blisters—all painful skin irritations resulting from repeated rubbing of the skin on the feet
But what can be done to protect feet and ankles from the way dancing stresses these lower extremities. The best defense to injury is prevention. Dancers should wear appropriate shoes to properly support their feet and ankles as well as perform dance moves. Each dancer has to keep his or her individual skill levels in mind when choosing shoes, as well as be realistic about dance steps to try.
When an injury does occur, prompt medical attention by a foot and ankle surgeon can make all the difference in a proper rehabilitation. Most dance injuries can be treated with conservative care as long as they are addressed early and not ignored. Being able to walk on an injured foot is not a measure of how serious an injury is. Common injuries, left untreated, can lead to surgical intervention to ensure the future of the feet. By the time surgery is the only choice, the patient has endured a lot more pain and loss of activity.
If, when you are dancing to the music of your heart, you feel your feet or ankles have sustained injury, please call me at Hoosier Foot and Ankle for an assessment. We will be able to diagnose your condition and recommend a plan of treatment. You can call 317-660-2115 to make an appointment. Or you can use our online appointment request option available 24/7 for your convenience.
For more information about foot and ankle conditions, you can visit our Resources area or the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons’ web site, FootPhysicians.com