Alignment of the Foot: Why It's Important for Dancers

Posted by Tina Lee-Almazar on

Alignment of the Foot: Why It's Important for Dancers

Photo Credit: Kent Reporter

The feet take the brunt of your body weight as you dance. This goes regardless if you are a professional dancer training for a competition or someone who loves to join social dance events with friends. And if you’re wearing social dance shoes with high heels, the wrong shoes or the wrong move may lead to an injury. 

The proper alignment of the foot is a critical part of a dancer’s form. But why is foot alignment critical in dancing, how to ensure the appropriate form as you dance, and ways to avoid injuries caused by improper foot alignment:

The Importance of Proper Foot Alignment in Dance

Proper alignment of the foot engages the correct muscles to perform dance steps safely and correctly.  Proper foot alignment is also key to improving control and strength of the foot and ankle. It also minimizes your risk of injury when you’re dancing. No matter what dance style you specialize in - Latin dance, breakdance, ballet, etc. - you need to be mindful of your feet and ankles’ position with every step, so you don’t end up twisting your ankle or suffering from a nasty fall.

When you’re dancing in high heels, the bodyweight is shifted to the balls of the feet. With every step, parts of the feet are subjected to intense pressure, places that do not usually bear much weight when walking wearing non-heeled shoes. This makes you vulnerable to injuries and foot conditions. 

Landing the wrong way while dancing is one of the most common causes of ankle sprain and fifth metatarsal fracture, AKA the dancer’s fracture. Even when you’re performing a simple dance workout at home can lead to painful muscle sprain or tears if you’re not careful. 

The combination of wrong technique and improper foot alignment will weaken the ligaments, the stretchy fibers that connect to the bones. Improper alignment and poor technique could also cause the overuse of the “wrong” muscles when dancing. This can lead to persistent aches and pains like muscle stiffness, muscle soreness, and muscle pains around the hips, thighs, and calves. It’s also the most common cause of “fallen” arches, the permanent loss of flexibility in the longitudinal arches. Other injuries or conditions caused by improper foot alignment are:

  • Tendonitis
  • Stress fractures
  • Integumentary problems  (skin and nail)

Dance Tips to Ensure Proper Foot Alignment

 

Proper position is important to achieve the correct form as well as to protect yourself from injuries. Get your starting position right, stand with your arms hanging loose naturally to the sides. Keep the head level on your neck, not leaning back or tilted to the side. Do not hunch your shoulders; the back should form an S-shape. 

Stand with your knees over your toes, do not lock the knees. Locking the knees will only put extra weight on the calves and lower back. When you’re dancing, keep your back straight with the shoulders, hipbones, and knees in line. 

Balance your body weight evenly on both feet, keep the foot connected to the floor. Do not roll the feet inward or outward because this will shift your body weight to the wrong leg muscles. Relax, take deep breaths, and don’t forget to have fun. Being too tense will lead to muscle strain and jitters.