Second-toe length and forefoot disorders in ballet and folk dancers

J Am Podiatr Med Assoc. 2007 Sep-Oct;97(5):385-8. doi: 10.7547/0970385.


Background: Although there is no ideal foot type for classical dancers, second-toe length seems to be a factor in the etiology of foot disorders in ballet dancers.

Methods: We investigated the relationship between second-toe length and foot disorders in 30 ballet dance students and 25 folk dance students. Second-toe length in relation to the hallux (longer or equal/shorter), hallux deformities, first metatarsophalangeal joint inflammation, number of callosities, and daily pain scores were recorded in both groups and compared.

Results: There was no statistically significant difference in toe length between the two groups (P>.05). Ballet dancers with equal-length or shorter second toes had lower pain scores, less first metatarsophalangeal joint inflammation, and fewer callosities in their feet compared with dancers with longer second toes.

Conclusions: Second-toe length seems to be a factor in the development of forefoot disorders in classical ballet dancers but not folk dancers. Dancers who have equal-length or shorter second toes in relation to the hallux may have fewer forefoot disorders as dance professionals.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Callosities / pathology
  • Dancing*
  • Female
  • Foot Diseases / pathology*
  • Forefoot, Human
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Male
  • Metatarsophalangeal Joint / pathology
  • Toes / pathology*