Because dance requires such precision and balance along with strength and athleticism, injuries to the foot and ankle are quite common; in fact, over half of all dance injuries occur in the foot or ankle. As a podiatrist, there are many things to consider when evaluating a dancer:
1. The Shoes – Different shoes can cause a multitude of problems, especially if not fitted properly. Pointe shoes, in particular, can be the cause of many issues from callouses to even small ulcers on the feet.
2. Understanding The Mental State – Because dance is such a precise art form, dancers often find themselves to be under immense internal and external pressures. As a podiatrist, it is necessary to understand the need of the dancer to perform, and to communicate effectively with the dancer and all involved parties. Learn the language of dance before working on a dancer.
3. Gauging Effective Treatment – Surgery is a last resort for dance injuries, as the down time is often very extensive. Dancers cannot afford to be down for an extended period of time, so being able to diagnose the problem quickly and rehab the injury effectively is a must. Balance tests and standing x-rays are a couple examples of strategies to help identify the injury.
Because the foot and ankle can have a profound effect on the knees, hips and back, it is necessary to handle them with expert care. When dealing with dancers, who push their feet and ankles to the limit on a consistent basis, it is imperative that the treatment be handled carefully and professionally.
Check out what Dr. Lisa M. Shoene has to say on Podiatry Today for a more comprehensive guide on dance injuries and how to recognize specific issues.
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