Ballet Injuries and How to Manage Them

Ballet Injuries and How to Manage Them

Ballet is a challenging form of dance that has been shown to be associated with an increased risk of musculoskeletal injury. 

Some injuries can occur due to a traumatic event, such as an ankle sprain or bony fracture. Overuse injuries (eg. Achilles tendinopathy) are also particularly common in ballet dancers.

An overuse injury is caused by excessive load in the tissue, leading to gradual wear and tear on the structure which can progress to a stage where the structure cannot function normally.

In recent studies, overuse injuries were found to be generally more common in dancers than traumatic ones and very frequently affected the lower limb.

Injuries can be overlooked in early stages as typical post-activity soreness.

When left untreated, these injuries often progress to the stage where treatment is necessary to allow a return to normal activity levels.

4 girls learning ballet

Soft tissue damage can be caused by a number of factors, including but not limited to: growth spurts, muscle imbalance, increased training load, incorrect technique, or poorly fitted footwear (including dance shoes).

In order to decrease the risk of injury any changes in training load should be made gradually, all footwear should be supportive and in good condition, and appropriate warm up and warm down should be done after all activity.

Common injuries in ballet dancers can include:

Ankle Sprains

Generally occurs in a traumatic event, but severe ankle sprains can lead to chronic ankle instability.
Immediate pain and swelling after injury, immediate medical attention required if weight cannot be placed on the limb.
Treatment is particularly important to ensure a full recovery and can include biomechanical offloading techniques, balance work, physical therapy.

Achilles Tendinopathy

A ballet dancer sits on the floor holding her Achilles Tendon

Pain at the back of the heel or middle of the calf, sometimes accompanied by heat or swelling in the area.
Often will feel better after warm-up, but will be aggravated by jumps, pointe or relevé.
Can progress to dysfunction or rupture in extreme instances.

Treatment can include biomechanical offloading techniques, re-loading exercises and technique tips.

Bunions

Pain and changes in the big toe joint leading to restricted movement.
Often aggravated by high levels of flexion in toes, particularly relevé.
Can progress to significant changes in the joint that can affect day-to-day activity.
Treatment can include biomechanical offloading techniques, generally in all shoes worn (not just those for dance).

Shin Splints

Pain in the front or lower third of the shin.
Often settles during warm-up and returns after activity, can be aggravated by high impact activity.
Can progress to stress reaction or fractures.
Treatment can include biomechanical offloading techniques, cross-training, strengthening exercises.

Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome


Pain in and around the knee, sometimes associated with a grinding sensation or noise when bending.
Often aggravated by jumping, plié and stairs.
Treatment can include foot biomechanics correction and targeted muscle strengthening.

An injured ballet dancer holding her knee

This advice is general in nature and does not consider your individual circumstances.

It is intended to be educational in nature and does not constitute medical advice.

If you believe you are affected by any condition mentioned in this article, seek the advice of a medical professional.

Call 3351 8878 to book your appointment or click here to book online.

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