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How Ballet Dancers Can Avoid Sickled Feet

If you’re a dancer, you’ve probably heard warnings about sickled feet. After all, dancers are serious athletes, so they have to worry about sports injuries of the foot.

Now, some injuries will happen suddenly, and are hard to avoid. That’s often the case with dancer’s toes…just ask Hailey R, who recently shared, “Dr. Fiala was wonderful when my daughter had to get an ingrown toenail removed due to dance. He explained everything so that she knew exactly how the procedure would go. The staff was nice and helpful as well.”

Of course, when it comes to ballet, some injuries are the result of poor form. In fact, when dancers have sickled feet, they’re more likely to get hurt. And, thankfully, sickled feet aren’t genetic. So, with proper form and correction, you can avoid this problem, and protect your dancer’s feet.

What are sickled feet? correct sickled feet to avoid dance injury

Sickled feet is a term we used to describe a dancer’s specific foot position. It can happen in any number of ballet positions, but it always leaves the same results. When sickled, the toes of the dancer’s foot curve inward, and his or her heel drops back. The position is a problem for several reasons. Over time, sickling destabilizes a dancer’s ankles. And that can lead to slips, twists and sprains. Plus, sickling increases a dancer’s risk for tendinitis.

Sickling is so common because it could occur during a relevé (rising on your toes). Or it could shop up during glides (glissade), jeté —jumps—or many other positions. Basically, dancers must worry about sickling any time they point their feet, whether they are crossing the floor, leaping through the air, or just working at the barre. And they have to avoid inward or outward sickling in order to prevent injury.

In the dance community, teachers prevent sickling with proper form. Because foot position is about turnout, and turnout is about hip strength, strength training could help stop this dancer’s mistake. But, if muscle memory takes over and sickled feet are a constant problem, your Louetta Foot & Ankle specialists can help.

 

How a Podiatrist Treats Sickled Feet

In the medical world, we call the sickling rotation supination. And we know that supination stretches tendons in your outer ankle. So we have to intervene to prevent ankle instability and other injuries.

One area of focus is building strength with physical therapy. While strengthening your feet is important, you’ll also focus on ankle, leg and glute strength. Because all of these muscles work together to properly position your feet. Building core strength and endurance can also help prevent further injury, since supination often happens when dancers are tired. Luckily, Louetta’s in-house physical therapist specializes in treating athletes. So your dancer could correct supination with a few focused training sessions.

At Home Interventions to Help Dancer’s Feet

Not sure if your dancer is sickling his or her feet? Here’s an easy at-home method to identify—and correct—supination. And it all has to do with self-awareness.

To get started, get down on the floor and stick your legs out in front of you. Then, after closing your eyes, flex and point your toes. Once they’re pointed, open your eyes and look at your feet. If there’s a clear, straight line, your position is good. But if the line from your leg to your toe is interrupted, you may be sickling your feet.

Remember, sickling often happens when you turn out from your ankles, not your hips. So watching your point and focusing on preserving a straight line while seated can help train your muscles to do the same when you dance.

But what if home training doesn’t correct the problem? Seek intervention right away. Because, once sickling weakens your ankle tendons, you’re at higher risk for sprains and fractures. Which could put a major damper on your dance career.

Need help protecting your dancer’s feet? We’re here to help! From treating tendinitis to providing in-house x-rays, we have what you need to quickly deal with dance-related injuries. Plus, thanks to our trained athletic physical therapist, and MLS laser treatments, we have what you need to speed up recovery. (And prevent future injury.)

Ready to protect your dancer’s feet from injury? Don’t wait another day. Schedule an appointment with our Spring or Tomball athletic podiatrists, and we’ll get you or your young dancer back to the barre in no time!