The Most Common Foot Problems for Dancers - Suffolk Foot and Ankle

The Most Common Foot Problems for Dancers

The Most Common Foot Problems for Dancers

If you’re a dancer, the chances you’ll end up with a foot problem in your life are much higher than someone who does not dance. This is obvious, of course. Your feet are responsibly for the bulk of what you must do as you move. With that being said, just because your chances are higher of suffering from a foot problem, it doesn’t mean you absolutely will end up with one. The following are the most common foot problems for dancers and how to prevent them.

Achilles Tendonitis

The long tendon on the back of the legs often takes repeated abuse when stretching and engaging in physical activities. Due to overuse, it can become inflamed and inflexible. This can lead to pain in the lower calf and heel.

Many dancers will try to dance through the pain. This only causes additional problems, such as a tear in the tendon. The situation can get worse if the tendon ruptures. This is when the pain is so sharp the dancer can’t dance on it until it’s treated and heals.

Ankle Sprain

This happens when the ligaments tear due to being twisted or too much pressure is placed on them. The pain is intense, and it can feel as though the ankle is broken.  Dancers typically can’t dance if they have a sprained ankle. If they do dance with a sprained ankle, treatment for it could involve surgery.

Shin Splints

This isn’t as serious as the others, but affects how well a dancer performs. This pain is located on the front or inside of the shins. The lining of the bone can tear away from the bone and it can take time for it to heal. Some people are more susceptible to this type of injury than others are, and many times when dancers suffer from chronic shin splints it’s a sign there’s something more serious, such as stress fracture.

Stress Fracture

A stress fracture is a tiny break in the bone. The pain can be dull or extremely intense. Weakened bones due to low levels of vitamin D in the body can increase the risk of this type of injury, but the good news is that treatment is non-surgical. It does heal on its own by staying off the feet for a couple of weeks.

Dancer’s Fracture

This injury comes along with being a dancer because it often doesn’t happen to people engaging in other types of movements. It involves a break in the long bone on the outside of the foot. This usually happens when a dancer jumps and lands the wrong way.

Dancer’s Heel

This is another dancer specific injury. It’s when the dancer’s ankle has just worn itself out completely. Most of the dancers that suffer from this injury engage in a type of ballet called pointe. Two types of dancer’s heel exist:

  1. Posterior Impingement Syndrome – This affects the rear part of the ankle.
  2. Anterior Impingement Syndrome – This affects the front part of the ankle and usually happens due to repeated plies.

Heel Spur

Dancers with flat feet or high arches are more at risk for heel spurs. This is when there is an abnormal growth on the bottom of the heel. It doesn’t cause pain, but it can be quite uncomfortable.

Ingrown Toenail

When skin grows over the toenail, it can cause pain. This pain can be so intense, it can stop a dancer from dancing. The best way to prevent this is by keeping toenails trimmed short.


Neuroma is when a dancer experiences pain or numbness in the forefoot. The pain and numbness are due to nerves being pinched. Inflammation and burning sensation may also accompany the pain and numbness. Many dancers try to dance through the symptoms of this foot condition, which can lead to more serious problems and surgery.

How to Prevent Foot Problems as a Dancer

The best way to prevent foot problems as a dancer is to stretch and warm up before beginning a dance routine. It’s also important to build up to certain moves instead of trying more advanced ones before you’re ready.

Whenever you feel pain, stop dancing. Take a break for a few minutes, hours, or even a day or two to see if the pain alleviates. If it doesn’t, contact an experienced podiatrist who understands injuries common among dancers.

Contact a Podiatrist Now

Contact Suffolk Foot and Ankle today at 631-604-4948. We would happy to help you with your foot problems, so you can get back to doing what you love – dancing.