How to Prevent Ballerina Feet Damage
Whether you’re training for a performance or getting ready for a big audition, there’s never a good time for a foot injury. Experts at BLOCH share a wealth of advice that can help inform you about ballet foot injuries, what causes them, and how to prevent them.
From the most common foot injuries to knowing when to seek medical help, here’s everything you need to know about ballerina foot damage.
Does ballet ruin your feet?
No, ballet does not ruin your feet. However, improper ballet training and footwear can damage your feet. Foot-related injuries occur in ballet for a variety of reasons, with one reason simply being bad luck. Below are common reasons why ballet dancers’ feet after pointe may appear damaged or hurt.
1. Inadequate footwear
If you are dancing in footwear that does not fit correctly, you’re significantly increasing the chance of a foot injury. Like all dance shoes, pointe and ballet shoes should fit snugly to the foot, but if they are too tight, rubbing, soreness, or blisters can cause injury to your feet. When purchasing pointe shoes, it’s important to receive a professional fitting to ensure your footwear fits correctly.
2. Not warming up
Foot and ankle injuries are much more likely if you haven’t warmed up correctly or in-depth enough. Muscles cannot achieve the proper flexibility if they are not warmed and stretched enough.
3. Rushing new skills
When you rush into a new ballet skill that you’re not comfortable with or without the proper training for, such as starting pointe work, it’s more likely than not that you will execute these new skills with improper technique. This is a huge cause for foot-related injuries in dance. It’s important to adhere to your dance teacher’s instructions when you’re ready to start pointe, as they keep your safety in mind. Do not try new skills without approval and guidance from your teacher.
Ballet feet injuries
Minor injuries that may pop up on a dancer’s feet after pointe include blisters and calluses, bunions, and injuries to the toenails, such as ingrown or cracked nails. While it is not uncommon for these foot wounds to appear, given the nature of dance, these injuries may be a sign of improperly sized, inadequate, or not broken-in pointe shoes. Serious ballet feet injuries include ligament and soft tissue injuries, such as sprains, torn muscles, and injured tendons.
“Trigger toe” is a common injury that occurs during ballet or when dancing en pointe. Because a ballet dancer supports their body weight with their toes, particularly the big toe, the muscles in the big toe and the tendon controlling the toes can be damaged, resulting in this condition. Unfortunately, pain from triggers toe can extend throughout the ankle and the foot, so it’s important to not neglect the toes when warming up and stretching your body and to allow your feet to rest during and between dance classes.
Supporting your feet and training with a range of foot essentials or pointe shoe essentials can help prevent injury to the feet and toes. If you think you are experiencing a foot injury, we recommend reaching out to a dance professional or your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Pain that worsens when you dance or put pressure on it
- Pain that is present before you start dancing
- Pain that limits your ability to move or dance
- Pain that keeps you awake at night
How to prevent ballet feet
Prevention is the best way to prevent ballet-related feet and foot injuries. Here are some crucial tips to follow in order to ensure you’re staying safe and protected when doing ballet or practicing pointe work.
1. Warm up and stretch
Warming up is a major key to preventing any dance-related injury, and that’s especially true for ballet feet injuries. Always complete a full warm-up and stretch thoroughly before hitting the dance floor to ensure every part of your foot (and body) is warm, flexible, and mobilized. A stretching band can also help you stretch every part of your feet and toes, while warm-up booties are great for preparing your feet and ankles for dancing.
If you’re looking for strengthening exercises and stretching tips for pointe work, visit our post on Pre-Pointe Exercises for Strength and Conditioning
2. Rest, recover, replenish
Resting your feet in between training and classes ensures that you are giving your feet enough time to recover from any strain. In addition, this will give any minor injuries time to heal and be taken care of. Replenish your body with plenty of nutrients and water, as this will help improve your strength for the next time you step out in your ballet shoes!
3. Identify and treat foot injuries right away
While it’s not uncommon for a dancer’s feet after pointe to see some of the minor injuries outlined above, it’s still incredibly important to treat these injuries right away to prevent them from worsening over time. Pushing through the pain associated with surface injuries can complicate these injuries in the long term and can prevent feet from healing properly.
Parents sending a child to ballet dance class should also watch out for foot injuries and ensure their child is practicing proper technique. Children who begin pointe training too early, or before the feet and ankles have developed enough, will increase the chance of foot injury. If you’re unsure if your child is ready to safely start pointe technique, review our blog post on When Are You Ready to Go on Pointe?
Ballet feet protection
As stated, the best way to protect yourself from a foot injury is through prevention. Ballet feet protection includes rest and recovery, stretching and strengthening, and purchasing ballet shoes and pointe shoes of high-quality construction that fit you properly.
If you’re unsure about the fit of your dance shoes, you can visit a BLOCH store for a professional fitting. We also have a Pointe Shoe Guide packed with all the information you need to know about choosing the right shoe for you.