Many students have issues underneath the ball of the foot which can cause a lot of irritation when rising onto demi-pointe. There are many reasons for this. The following is a list that is by no means exhaustive of the reasons why dancers may get pain under the ball of the foot.
1) Sesamoiditis – If the pain is underneath the big toe, this may be irritation of the tissues around the sesamoid bones. These are two little bones under the base of the first metatarsal that provide a tunnel for the FHL tendon to pass through, but they often get irritated with loaded work on demi pointe.
If it is this, they will be tender to touch right over the area and especially if they roll in on demi pointe. Along with icing and careful use of anti inflammatories, padding in a doughnut shape over the area can help get them through the show, until they have time to deal with the true cause. Often the deeper cause of irritation in this area is actually stiffness in the joint at the top of the first metatarsal – where it joins the medial cuneiform bone, resulting in increased load on the head of the first metatarsal with walking and dancing. Often mobilisation of this area results in less load on the sessamoids especially with normal walking.
2) If the pain is more under the ball of the second toe – this may be if the second toe is longer. In this case I often create a custom made (from regular strapping tape) toe thong with supports to offload the tip of the second metatarsal. This is a GREAT tip and will also help the student balance more on demi pointe. I have made a video that shows this taping in detail, that you can access in the members area of The Advanced Foot Control program. CLICK HERE to watch the video.
3) If the pain is more tenderness over the whole area – it may be that they are landing too heavily on the ball of the foot, and not using the Soleus muscle effectively to control the landing. Below is a video taken from our online program How To Improve Your Pointe Range Safely Without A Footstretcher in which Lisa goes through optimal rise training that focuses on strengthening all muscles of the lower leg even if you do have some pain.