Bengali’s love for dancing is well-known and they start it pretty young!
Every Bengali child, especially a girl child, apart from her school curriculum, goes for either music classes or dance classes. Importantly, most of the Indian dance forms are performed barefoot. Hence, the chances of getting foot problems are much more than those in western dances.
But are we aware of such consequences? What are the foot problems dancers can come across in their lifetime? How should they be treated?
Just as musicians should keep their musical instruments in good working order, a dancer must pay close attention to the health of their feet.
We discuss here 8 basic foot problem for dancers…
The long tendon on the back of the leg takes repeated hurt and stress while dancing. Eventually, it might get inflamed, stiff and cause severe pain in the heel and lower calves. Not attending medically might cause a tendon tear and subsequently a rupture with sharp pain.
Fascia is a fibrous band of tissues joining the heel bone to the toes. Overuse and the extra strain of these tissues affect the sole of the feet. Tightness in the calf muscle can also be a pointer of Plantar Fasciitis which can be caused by dancing on a hard surface barefoot.
There are two sesamoid bones in our feet that provide the support while the dancer is moving on the balls of the feet. Too much stress on the sesamoid can lead to inflammation and severe pain focussed under the big toe while bending and straightening of the foot. It is also a kind of tendonitis.
Dancers are susceptible to sprains especially in the ankle region due to the specific toe movements they have to make. Since dancing involves rapid directional changes, twists and turns, jumps and landing, it causes a lot of stress on the ankle and has high chances of the sprain.
These two fractures are different in nature and thus termed separately. A tiny break in the bone due to repeated use of the legs can cause a stress fracture. The pain can be dull or intense depending on the bone density of the dancers. On the other hand, a break of a long bone on the outer side of the foot is called a Dancer’s Fracture since it is most common among them. The pain is abrupt and the dancer has to stay out of stage during treatment.
A spur is an abnormal growth on the bottom of the heel bone. It does not always cause pain but does hinder the usual graceful movements of a dancer. People with flat feet or high arches are especially prone to a heel spur.
Shinbone refers to the tibia that runs from knee to ankle. Pain and inflammation in the frontal part of the shin-bone can mean a shin splint. It means tearing of the lining of the bone. Shin splints, if neglected can lead to a stress fracture or what is called chronic exertional compartment syndrome.
A neuroma is primarily a neurological injury which is diagnosed by severe pain in the forefoot and numbness in toes. Due to excessive strain on the foot muscles, nerves get hurt and pinched. This causes a burning sensation and inflammation which can lead to bigger problems if not treated on time.
According to a 2013 International survey, dancers who practice every day are more susceptible to injuries. However, it is good news that most of these injuries have non-surgical treatment.
Podiatrists and orthopedics majorly depend on what is called RICE – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Sometimes, if need be, they might take the help of an X-ray, CT scan, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to diagnose the depth of the injury.