Can I Still Dance? Common Dancer Foot Injuries and How Physiotherapy Can Help

Pain at the back of the ankle is one of the most common complaints we see in dancers. Most Physiotherapists will misdiagnose it as Achilles tendinopathy. However, that is not true for most dancers.

At Capital Physiotherapy, our therapists are all trained to efficiently and accurately diagnose posterior ankle pain injuries for dancers.

The “Pointe Position” that is an essential movement for many different types of dance, especially ballet, this position gives a nice elongation and alignment to the dancer’s legs. However, this position requires an extreme range of motion at the ankle and it also creates a high compressive force to the back of the dancer’s ankle. This position is not a “normal” position for our ankle to be in.

If done repetitively and incorrectly over time, it creates inflammation and swelling at the back of the dancer’s ankle. The back of the ankle is a pathway for many tendons, ligaments, nerve and blood supply to pass through to our foot. If the tendons that run through the back of the ankle get swollen/ inflamed, they take up more room than usual, which in turn compresses the back of the ankle even more leading to a syndrome which is known as the posterior ankle impingement.

Sign and symptoms that most dancer’s complaints are as followed:

  • Pain felt in the back of the ankle usually with full plantar flexion (pointing) of the ankle 
  • Pain with demi pointe and pointe work 
  • Left untreated the pain can start even with normal walking
  • Swelling at the back of the ankle 
  • Referred pain can be felt in the calf or foot

This particular injury is normally caused by overused or poor technique during dancing. Most dancers who suffer from this injury will complain of the ankle pain happening over a gradual period of timeframe and the pain get worse when left untreated. There are no specific trauma or injuries that they could recall of which leads to this issues.

Our physiotherapists will assess the ankle and take a holistic approach to find out what might be the underlying causes for the injuries. We look at all possible contributing factors that could lead to the development of dancer’s injuries. This not only allows our dancers to recover from their injuries but also perform at their optimal potential at the shortest time possible. We firmly believe the power of educating our dancers, allowing them to understand the underlying causes of the injuries to help them improve and also prevent future injuries.

At Capital Physiotherapy, we are the dance physio specialist and we can help you get to your goal. We work closely with your coaches to help you achieved your highest level of skills and performance because your wellness is our pride!

If you do experience any aches and discomfort or if you simply wants to improve your dancing skills please do not hesitate to contact us on 0401 865 333 or email us at [email protected].