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Podiatry for Ballet Dancers

Ballet has been a beautifully prominent feature in the world of dance since the 15th and 16th centuries. This exercise involves extremely high levels of strength, balance, postural stability and aerobic fitness. Often, ballet dancers are very organised, fit people with a drive for perfection.

It is common knowledge that Ballet requires great foot strength, particularly for those who are dancing "en pointe."

As Podiatrists, we often see a variety of injuries and foot pathologies occurring in dancers of all ages. Dancing on- pointe places extremely high pressure on the feet as they are in a position where they are not designed to be withstanding such high loads. This "on tippy toes" position is where issues often occur, especially when held for long periods of time.

However, prior to dancing on pointe, many young ballerinas have been dancing for many years which has strengthened their feet, legs and core so the transition to pointe dancing is not so intense. Dance schools are usually extremely experienced in the transition to dancing en- pointe, however some student require or prefer to have a Podiatrist assess their foot and leg function prior to beginning this increased level of complexity.

Dancing on an injured foot for a prolonged period of time can occasionally result in permanent damage that requires surgery to correct

Common Foot Problems for Ballet Dancers

  1. Thickened/ingrown/ damaged nails

Usually due to compression in Pointe shoes

  1. Bunions or Big Toe arthritis Commonly caused by increased stress on the big toes where they are operating in a confined space where the placement of pressure is non conventional.

  2. Callous and Corns Commonly due to increased pressure and friction

  3. Sprained ankles and stress fractures Often due to the dynamic nature of en- pointe dancing

  4. Tendinopathies/Ligament sprains and strains/Plantar Fasciitis/Generalised Foot Pain The body requires increased loads on tendons and ligaments when en- pointe which can cause overload and stress

  5. Neuromas Thickened nerves due to compression, common due to confined pointe- shoe space

What We Can Do as Podiatrists

  • General foot and nail care regularly to reduce the occurrences of corns and callous.

  • Assess children's feet prior to going en- pointe through a comprehensive assessment which looks for overall body fitness, foot positioning, strength, risk factors and safety in going en- pointe. We also provide some exercises to keep up strength through the en- pointe process. --> our process for assessment includes a comprehensive history assessment accompanied by current activities at dancing, static assessment and functional assessment where the dancer is required to complete key strength exercises. Finally, a recommendation is provided as to whether the dancer is ready for en- pointe. Recommendations are then given for upkeep of the dancer's physical health.

  • Provide feedback on each dancer to their teacher

  • Send for imaging (x- ray and Ultrasound) if pain arises

  • Help with injury assessment, treatment and rehabilitation if an injury does occur to help each dancer back into their pointe shoes. At our clinic we pride ourselves in helping to improve and manage musculoskeletal injury and we are able to use our experience, holistic approach and technologies such as Laser and Ultrasound safely on young dancers to assist with recovery.

  • Provide exercises for strength and coordination management and maintenance, particularly for the feet and legs.

It is vital that the body of a ballet dancer is kept in tip- top shape to reduce injury risk and achieve each person's optimal dancing potential. There are great risks of damage to the body when it comes to Ballet, and particularly dancing en- pointe, so it is vital that the body is prepared for this next step. Podiatrists can work together with the dancer and the dance school to ensure that dance is achieved pain- free.

If you have any questions about our service at Foot Body Sole please feel free to contact us on 1800778316 or online at

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