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Foot Surgery in Dancers?
This weeks question is from a reader who has been recommended to have surgery on her foot to remove the entire plantar fascia. Watch the video and explore the related article links below to see how important it is to work your body correctly, and options other than surgery.
“Hello there, I was recently diagnosed with having Plantar Fibromas on my foot (not something you want to hear as a ballet dancer). After unsuccessful steroid injections my surgeon has proposed surgery. The problem is that he’s unsure of whether he’ll be able to remove the fibromas without removing the entire plantar fascia. Will the complete removal of the plantar fascia stop me from doing pointe work or ballet in general? Many thanks."
Hi There! Yes, I would be very, very cautious about removing the entire plantar fascia, and it’s not something I’ve actually ever seen performed on a dancer, so I would definitely recommend getting a second opinion before moving forward with the surgery.
1. The thing that you really need to look at before going under any surgery, and especially such radical surgery, is why the fibromas are happening in the first place.
Usually they will happen if there’s excessive load through the plantar fascia so you want to off-load the plantar fascia mechanically before you actually think of doing anything so aggressive. Normally the steroid injections will work, but if they haven’t it’s probably because that load is still being placed along the plantar fascia while you’re having the steroid injections in there. I would encourage you to look at our plantar fascia article. It explains a lot about how to correctly support the foot to take the load off the plantar fascia while you strengthen up the muscles to support the arch.
2. There are numerous ways of strengthening the muscles to support the arch.
This includes using taping techniques, by using orthotics, by controlling the turnout control and things from the hips. There is a huge amount of information that we have put up on the blog to help with this so I would definitely look at exhausting all of those options before actually looking at undergoing that surgery.
3. I think yes, it would make it very difficult to dance proficiently if you have your entire plantar fascia removed.
The Plant Fascia's other name is the "Spring Ligament." It’s designed to let the foot deform and then recoil a little to help get some spring in your foot so removing this will make jumping and landing from jumps become very difficult.
So I highly advise you to get a second opinion before you undergo that surgery. And again look at all of those strengthening exercises that you can do to really help retrain the foot before you would actually go down that path. I hope this has helped. Good luck, and talk to you soon.
Our "Will I Ever Dance Again?" program shows you exactly how to manage your dancing in class while taking the appropriate timme off, allowing the inflammation to settle. It guides you through a detailed floor barre, as well as a barre that can be done in an orthopaedic boot (if you have been fitted with one) so that you can continue working all parts of your body while resting the foot. It also has great exercises that you can do while not jumping to actually improve your jumps long term, as well as gradual progressions to build back into the Allegro, Adage and Pirouette sections of class. In each of these parts of classs it is essential that you build back slowly, making sure to deveop perfect technique, correcting any weaknesses that lead to the Plantar Fasciitis developing in the first place.
This is an essential step in the rehabilitation of any injury to ensure that it does not return once you start back in class. For more information on the "Will I Ever Dance Again?" program, CLICK HERE.
Often students find that they actually come out of an injury like this stronger and more mobile than before if they learn how to work with their body in the correct way. Improved flexibility and foot control help all areas of dancing, and correct dynamic bio-mechanics of the foot will result in much improved height and ballon in Allegro work.