5 Most Common Causes Of Foot Pain For Dancers

Are your feet killing you? Here are 5 the most common causes of foot pain for dancers.

Foot pain is so common among ballroom dancers, that it is no longer a topic for discussion. But, it doesn’t mean that if you ignore it, it will go away. Let’s find out what is causing the foot pain and what can dancers do about it.

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1. “My big toe is painful”

Bunion – Gradual onset of foot pain in the big toe or ball of foot. Pain increases with weight bearing, pressure, or even just touching the area. This injury is often associated with other postural and or biomechanical faults involving other joints (most often a tendency to pronate, or roll-in, during turned-out positions).

Treatment: If caught early, treat with strengthening exercises, stretching, a toe spacer, acupuncture, and/or orthotic prescription. Severe cases may require surgical intervention.


2. “I have pain in the balls of my feet”

Metatarsalgia – pain and tenderness under the ball of the foot. For dancers, this is commonly caused by instability in the joints of the smaller toes from overwork and forcing extreme motion.

Treatment: Ice and rest. Strengthening the muscles that control toe flexion can be helpful. This can be done with towel scrunches (using your toes to grab a towel placed on the ground and drawing it towards you). Orthotic prescription can alleviate pressure in balls of the feet.

3. “The bottom of my feet hurt when I walk”

Plantar Fasciitis – an overuse injury affecting the sole of the foot. The tough, fibrous band of tissue (fascia) connecting the heel bone to the base of the toes becomes inflamed and painful. Most people experience pain first thing in the morning or after dance class. This pain can also be influenced by tightness in the calf muscle or the Achilles tendon, or by dancing on a hard surface or a non-sprung floor.

Treatment: Rest and ice. Physical therapy to release tight tissues. Your clinician may recommend anti-inflammatories and/or an overnight splint to provide a long duration stretch to the affected tissues.

4. “I Have pain when I’m dancing up on the balls of my feet.”

Hallus Rigidus or Limitus – This condition is characterized by pain and/or restriction of movement at the joints of the big toe. A dancer without mobility who forces a high relevé will cause the bones in the joint to impinge (rub together) on each other.

Treatment: During the acute stages, ice and rest. Taping and mobilization by experienced clinician can be effective in relieving pain and decreasing further progression. Safe compensation for this condition is a half-relevé position where the dancer rises onto the ball of the foot without forcing the foot into full relevé.


5. “I have pain underneath my big toe, particularly while walking without shoes.”

Sesamoiditis – The two sesamoid bones are not connected to any other bones in the body. The sesamoids provide a support surface while the dancer is in on the balls of their feet. The tendon that runs between the sesamoids can become inflamed, causing sesamoiditis, a form of tendonitis. Pain is focused under the big toe on the ball of the foot and may be felt while bending and straightening the big toe.

Treatment: Rest from rehearsals while the pain and inflammation from sesamoiditis decreases, x-ray to rule out a sesamoid fracture, a pad to relieve pressure, and taping . A clinician to identify and correct muscle imbalances and assist with acute symptom relief.

Exclusively for Dance Comp Review
Dr. Glenn Paul Uy | Ossington Chiropractic and Rehabilitation : www.ossingtonchiro.ca and www.dancefeet.ca.
Source: Harkness Centre for Dance Injuries – Hospital for Joint Diseases — http://hjd.med.nyu.edu