Foot and Ankle Injuries in Dancers

Foot and ankle injury in Dancers Singapore

Much like contact sports, dance is a physically demanding activity that comes with a high risk of injuries. Hours of practice help dancers execute complex movements with precision and grace, and improve their strength and flexibility. Yet performing the same twists and turns for hours and days can cause stress and overuse to the joints and muscles, especially those on the feet and ankles.

Foot and ankle injury can have long-term consequences that affect dancers’ careers if they are not treated promptly and properly. The most common types of foot and ankle injury that dancers are prone to include the following:

  • Ankle sprain – An ankle sprain occurs when the ligament that holds the ankle joint and bones together overly stretch or tear. This usually happens when a person twists, rolls or lands on his or her ankle awkwardly. If not treated properly, a sprained ankle can lead to ankle cartilage injury, leading to chronic foot and ankle pain or ankle instability.
  • Achilles tendinopathy – This is an overuse injury characterized by pain and swelling in the Achilles tendon, which connects the heel bone to the calf muscles. Achilles tendinopathy often happens as a result of repeated injury to the Achilles tendon due to dancing on pointe (standing on the toes), or even just walking or running.
  • Achilles tendon rupture – This occurs when the Achilles tendon is overly stretched, causing it to partially or completely tear. It can happen with forceful jumping, abrupt pivoting or rotating, or by falling.
  • Plantar fasciitis – Considered as the most common cause of heel pain, plantar fasciitis occurs when the tissue that runs through the arch of the foot (plantar fascia) becomes inflamed. It is caused by repeated stress and pressure on the plantar fascia, due to activities such as running, aerobic dance and ballet.
  • Posterior ankle impingement syndrome (PAIS) – Increasingly common in dancers who go en pointe or on tiptoes. This is cause by either bone or soft tissue getting caught or impinged at the back of the ankle joint, causing pain in that region.
  • Sesamoid injuries – Sesamoids are pea-sized bones located at the bottom of the foot under the first metatarsophalangeal joint (big toe joint). Repeated stress on the sesamoid bone, most particularly with ballet that involves jumping and placing weight on the forefoot, can cause sprains and fractures on the sesamoids.
  • Stress fracture – Fractures refer to cracks in the foot or ankle bone resulting from a serious injury, or overuse due to repetitive stress and movements.

Treatment will depend on the type and severity of the foot and ankle injury. For mild injuries, the treatment usually involves the RICE method (rest, ice, compression and elevation), and physiotherapy to restore strength, mobility and flexibility. Non-invasive shockwave therapy is also an option in suitable cases (eg plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy) to speed up recovery.

For more severe injuries, foot and ankle surgery in Singapore may be advised. In some cases, untreated injuries may lead to chronic conditions such as arthritis, with surgery being recommended for advanced foot arthritis treatment. In many other cases, minimally-invasive procedures can be performed, which leads to less pain after surgery, less wound complications and quicker recovery. A specialist foot and ankle surgeon will be best suited to perform such procedures.

The key to a quick and full recovery from any foot and ankle injury is prompt diagnosis and treatment. Make sure to visit an experienced foot and ankle doctor immediately to ensure that appropriate treatment is received and one can resume dancing again.

Our experienced foot and ankle surgeon is skilled in treating all types of ankle cartilage injury and more, among dancers. Should you experience foot and ankle pain, seek treatment so that you can get back on track as soon as possible.

For more information, please call 9898 7781 or click here to send us an email

Our Orthopaedic Specialist
Singapore Bunion Surgeon - Dr Kevin Koo Oon Thien
Dr Kevin Koo Oon Thien
MBBS (S’pore), DFD (CAW), MRCS (Edin), MMed (Ortho), FRCSEd (Orth), FAMS
Director and Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon
Dr Kevin Koo is a fellowship-trained Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and previous Director of Foot and Ankle Service at the Singapore General Hospital with more than 15 years of experience.
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