Ballet dancers may suffer more injuries than any other athlete. As Professional Fitters, we see a lot of mistakes dancers make that contribute to injuries.
Here are the 5 most common mistakes you may be making:
- Curling toes: We see a ton of dancers who curl their toes in tendu in our initial bare feet assessment. This is something you may be getting away in ballet class because it’s hard to tell your curling your toes in ballet slippers. Dancers not only need to use muscles in their lower legs to dance en pointe, we need to use the small intrinsic muscles in your feet and toes. Curling toes shows us that you aren’t using these intrinsic muscles and overusing lower leg muscles to take over pointe work. This can lead to injuries in your feet. Strive to lengthen toes when pointing and regularly massage under the toes to relax the muscles.
- Rolling Ankles: This is one of the most common and most damaging mistakes. This can lead to ankle and knee injuries. Pronating feet typically stems from over turning out. Make sure that you are well aligned and feet are flat on the floor when standing. A good way to find your true turn out is to plie in first position and see if your knees are over your feet. If your feet are more turned out than your knees, turn your feet in a little bit.
- Hyperextension: Oh the coveted hyperextension. In ballet, many dancers envy the beautiful line created by hyperextended knees. However, if not controlled, this can lead to overstretching ligaments and tendons behind the knee. If you have hyperextended knees, strive to dance in a more neutral position that creates a true straight line. This may feel like you are bending your knees, but it will prevent injuries in the long run.
- Overstretching: Many ballet dancers focus more on stretching rather than strengthening but this can lead to overstretching. Much like the issue with hyperextension, dancers can actually weaken muscles when stretching too much. Flexibility should be well balanced with strength training. Cross training with weights and theraband exercises can be helpful for ballet dancers.
- Ill-Fitting Shoes: Properly fitted pointe shoes should be supportive, stable and well aligned. Because the dangerous nature of dancing en pointe, you need pointe shoes that fit perfectly. Incorrectly fitted shoes can lead to a plethora of injuries. Find a fitter who is knowledgeable and carry a variety of shoes.
Although ballet is a dangerous sport, proper technique, balancing flexibility with strength and having the right shoes can help prevent unnecessary injuries. It is difficult to prevent injuries all together, but you can put yourself in the best possible situation to be able to dance as long as you wish.