Nancy J. Kadel, MD
Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, University of Washington, Box 356500,
1959 Northeast Pacific Street, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
‘‘The instrument through which the dance speaks is also the instrument through which life is lived.the human body.’’ Martha Graham, 1979
Dance is an art that combines athleticism with artistry. The demands placed on dancers’ lower extremities leave them at risk for musculoskeletal injuries. Previous studies have reported injury incidence rates of 67% to 95% among professional ballet dancers and 17% to 24% in modern dancers [1–6]. The foot and ankle of a dancer are particularly vulnerable to injury and represent 34% to 62% of all injuries reported [1–6]. Female ballet dancers have a higher incidence of foot and ankle injuries than male ballet dancers or modern dancers, in part because they dance sur les pointes. In professional musical theater dancers, foot and ankle injuries have been reported as comprising 23% to 45% of all injuries [7–9]. The extreme positions created when dancing on pointe, or on the tips of
the toes, or in the demi-pointe position, on the balls of the feet with the ankle plantar flexed, can lead to both acute and overuse injuries of the foot and ankle. Although dancers develop overuse injuries common in other athletes,
they are also susceptible to unique injuries. This article reviews common foot and ankle problems seen in dancers and provides some basic diagnosis and treatment strategies.