Overuse injuries in classical ballet

Sports Med. 1995 May;19(5):341-57. doi: 10.2165/00007256-199519050-00004.


Successful management of classical ballet dancers with overuse injuries requires an understanding of the art form, precise knowledge of anatomy and awareness of certain conditions. Turnout is the single most fundamental physical attribute in classical ballet and 'forcing turnout' frequently contributes to overuse injuries. Common presenting conditions arising from the foot and ankle include problems at the first metatarsophalangeal joint, second metatarsal stress fractures, flexor hallucis longus tendinitis and anterior and posterior ankle impingement syndromes. Persistent shin pain in dancers is often due to chronic compartment syndrome, stress fracture of the posteromedial or anterior tibia. Knee pain can arise from patellofemoral syndrome, patellar tendon insertional pathologies, or a combination of both. Hip and back problems are also prevalent in dancers. To speed injury recovery of dancers, it is important for the sports medicine team to cooperate fully. This permits the dancer to benefit from accurate diagnosis, technique correction where necessary, the full range of manual therapies to joint and soft tissue, appropriate strengthening programmes and maintenance of dance fitness during any time out of class with Pilates-based exercises and nutrition advice. Most overuse ballet conditions respond well to a combination of conservative therapies. Those dancers that do require surgical management still depend heavily on ballet-specific rehabilitation for a complete recovery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ankle Injuries / etiology
  • Ankle Injuries / therapy
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / etiology
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / therapy*
  • Dancing / injuries*
  • Dancing / physiology
  • Foot Injuries / etiology
  • Foot Injuries / therapy
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / etiology
  • Knee Injuries / therapy
  • Leg Injuries / etiology
  • Leg Injuries / therapy
  • Physical Therapy Modalities