Besides bunions, there is another foot flaw that can cause major problems for ballet dancers. It's called hammertoe, and it refers to a toe that bends in the middle and curls downward. It can make dancing on pointe painful.
Causes - Hammer toes can be inherited or obtained. Any shoes that are too small can push the toes into unnatural positions. After the toes have been repeatedly subjected to this unnatural bending they will stiffen and become fixed in a hooked shape. When wearing pointe shoes, the whole weight of the body is bearing down on the bent toe, so the pressure is greater and hammer toe can develop more quickly.
Should this happen, there is a very good chance that a corn will develop on the deformed toe.
Prevention - Wearing pointe shoes that are the right fit prevents hammertoes. If a toe has already curled, padding the spot of the toe that comes into contact with the pointe shoe can fight off corns.
Treatment - Surgery is not a recommended treatment for dancers. In fact, just as with a bunion, a hammertoe cannot be fixed. However, there are ways to relieve the toe from some of the demands of pointe work. While dancing, the hammertoe can be secured to the neighboring toes on either side of it. This decreases the pressure that would otherwise be placed on it. A podiatrist can teach the dancer how to properly strap the toe. If a corn appears on the affected toe it should be covered to resist further damage. Only a podiatrist should cut a corn.
Products -U-shaped pads can guard the hammertoe from touching the shoe, which lessens the chance of acquiring a corn. Half-inch adhesive tape can be used to strap the toe.
This video is from a dancer who developed hammertoe thanks to poor technique - you can see her the hammertoe clearly when she lifts up her foot:
There's no denying that hammer toes and bunions are an inconvenience to ballet dancers, but with a little time and effort these faults are manageable.
Posted by Kristina Tyler
Kristina Tyler enjoys writing informative articles about ballet, as well as blogging about her personal experiences in the dance world. For seven years she trained to become a professional ballet dancer, and is now currently in college with the intention of turning her interest in health and fitness into a career as a personal trainer. She still keeps up with dance, and has recently taken up running and horseback riding.