Ankle Injuries

Ankle injuries can take you off the dance floorAnkle Injuries are most likely the number one impairment for dancers:“In the ankle region, lateral sprains are the most common traumatic injury across all sports including dance” (Fong et al, 2007). Not only is the pain quite severe, but an impaired ankle means a dancer cannot perform. This can lead to devastating career setbacks, not to mention a lifetime of physical pain and debilitation. Ankle injuries combined with foot injuries, “accounts for up to 57% of all dance injuries” (Russell, 2012). Overuse is typically the culprit in this area. Meaning a dancer is more likely to have a steady, longitudinal impairment versus a sudden accident. Overuse is common with all of the long hours invested in training and practice. If a professional dancer is not performing, they are usually honing their craft. Strain or damage to the Achilles tendon is frequent among ballet dancers. When the ankle and the foot are in the en pointe position, this puts a large amount of weight and pressure on the Achilles tendon area. This is why strains on these tendons are so common in ballet, but it doesn’t end there. Any movement where you spend time on the ends of your feet (anything from the toes or the heel) is going to add pressure that is not compensated on the other side. This is why exercise is important in strengthening the areas you use less, to help balance the areas you use most. This balance should be sought after in many areas of the body. For example, if your style of dance involves a lot of jumping that adds excess pressure to the ankles and feet, consider strength training for the the calf and thigh muscles in order to support the ankle. There are many remedies to correct this impairment and alleviate the pain, some of which are more successful than others. They include everything from changing a routine, to investing in different equipment, to costly and risky prescription medication. Despite these many remedies, any Sports or Kinesthetic Physician will tell you that the only way to completely heal a tendon is by giving yourself long periods of rest. A total break from dancing (sometimes 1 to 2 years at the most) seems to be the optimal way to remedy this issue. Trying to perform through the pain can only lead to nastier and possibly longer impairment; putting the dancer and their career at great risk.