Many fans of dance are now taking to the studios, especially with the current popularity of the ABC reality show, “Dancing with the Stars”. All forms of dance are great exercise, both mentally and physically, but can also take a toll on your body as the intricate maneuvers can be intense for the novice student.
Dance can be a source of extreme stress to the body causing many types of injuries. As with any physical activity, it is important that the proper technique and equipment is used to keep your body safe and, with all types of dance, shoes are of the utmost importance to protect your feet and avoid injuries.
There are many types of dance shoes and all are specific to the type of dance activity. If not properly fit, many dance shoes can cause injuries such as ingrown toenails, blisters, abrasions, pain in the balls of the feet, pinched nerves, stress fractures, tendonitis, etc. Some of these injuries are intrinsic to the nature of dance and can happen regardless of the shoes, but most injuries are a result of the shoes and the dancers technique.
Ingrown toenails, subungual hematoma (blood under the nails), loss of toenails and discoloration or irregularity of the nail plate can be caused by shoes that are too tight or pointe shoes, specific shoes that ballet dancers wear to assist with dancing on their toes. These nail conditions can be expected for anyone who is taking dance lessons, especially dancers who dance “en pointe”. Any of these nail conditions should be treated by a trained podiatrist to minimize down time and allow for quick return to dance activity.
Dance is a combination of many repetitive actions, which may cause stress injuries or tendinitis. These conditions can be treated with immobilization, supportive bracing, ice and physical therapy under the care of a podiatrist as part of a comprehensive treatment plan to strengthen the injured area and return to dance activity.
Ann C. Anderson, DPM FACFAS, FAPWC
Dr. Anderson is in practice with Allentown Family Foot Care, PC. She has 20 years of experience as a ballet dancer and loves to treat patients that are active, with the goal of maintaining their activity level throughout their treatment.