Health & Fitness

Foot Care for Dancers

Dancers place tremendous stress on their feet through hours and hours of training and performance, making them especially prone to injury.

Therefore, for anyone taking part in dance classes or performance, proper foot care is imperative.

According to Dr. Suzanne Belyea, Medical Director for, The Foot Health Network,a web site that provides comprehensive information on foot health, dancers especially have to watch out for such foot conditions as metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, and achilles tendonitis.

Metatarsalgia is a general term used to denote a painful foot condition in the metatarsal region of the foot (the area just before the toes, more commonly referred to as the ball-of-the-foot). This common foot disorder affects the bones and joints at the ball-of-the-foot. The first step in treating metatarsalgia is to determine what is causing the pain. If improper fitting dance shoes or other footwear is the cause, the footwear must be changed.

Your ultimate goal should be to unload pressure on the ball-of-foot to allow your condition to heal. When not dancing, you should wear shoes with a high, wide toe box that allows your foot to spread out. Plantar Fasciitis is an inflammation caused by excessive stretching of the plantar fascia. The plantar fascia is a broad band of fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom surface of the foot, attaching at the bottom of the heel bone and extending to the forefoot. Excessive stretching of the plantar fascia causes Plantar Fasciitis, which can also lead to heel pain, arch pain, and heel spurs.

The key for the proper treatment of Plantar Fasciitis is determining what is causing the excessive stretching of the plantar fascia. When the cause is over-pronation (flat feet), an orthotic with rearfoot posting and longitudinal arch support can effectively reduce the over-pronation and allow the condition to heal. If orthotics cannot be worn while dancing, they should be worn in everyday shoes.

Achilles Tendonitis causes inflammation and degeneration of the achilles tendon. The disorder can cause shooting, burning, or even an extremely piercing pain. Achilles tendonitis should not be left untreated, as there is a danger that the tendon can become weak and ruptured. If this or any foot problem persists, Dr. Belyea recommends that you consult your foot doctor.