When Your Child Chooses Ballet

It goes without saying that sports are hard on the body. Football and concussions are constantly in the news. Athletes are sidelined by knee, ankle, and foot injuries on a daily basis. Is there a parent among us who hasn’t stopped to consider the potential for bodily damage with any sport their child is considering?

What if your child’s sport of choice is dance? There’s no ball flying around, and the physical contact among dancers is minimal, especially with beginners. So, no worries, right? Not so fast. Most serious dancers begin with ballet, and there is plenty to worry about when it comes to a ballet dancer’s feet and ankles.

We see hundreds of feet a year here at Foot & Ankle Associates of Cleveland, and we can tell you without reservation that a ballet dancer’s foot is rarely a beautiful thing. Damage is common, with tiny muscles taking on huge jobs, like intense bending, stretching, and turning. Special positions put enormous stress on the toes and on the ball of the foot. Overuse and repetitive stress injuries are just part of the territory.

Keep your dancer’s foot and ankle health in mind:
There are a number of really good questions to ask the instructor where your child is taking ballet lessons:

  1. What shoes should I buy? Take the studio instructor’s advice about where to get the best shoes for ballet. Wearing the wrong shoes, or shoes that fit poorly, can lead to calluses, bunions, and hammertoes.
  2. What sort of floor will my child be dancing on? You’ll want to know if the flooring is appropriately shock absorbing, and that it has enough friction to protect dancers from slipping.
  3. How often and how long will my child be practicing? As with any activity, too much dancing can lead to injury. For example, if your child is dancing 3-5 hours a day 3-5 times per week, he or she may not be giving their lower limbs enough rest.
  4. Is my child too young to dance on pointe? The muscles in your child’s feet must be mature enough and strong enough to withstand the demands of dancing “on pointe,” meaning on the toes.

If you’re not happy with the answers you’re getting from the dance studio, give us a call at (440) 903-1041 to schedule an appointment. Dr. Craig B. Frey and Dr. Megan Oltmann are experienced surgeons and expert clinicians. They practice medicine of the feet and ankles to help keep your dancer performing as long and as safely as possible.