Why Do Ballerinas cut their Feet With Razors?
No matter how elegant or beautiful the ballet dance movement which includes; plier (to bend), relever (to turn), sauter (to jump), etendre (to stretch), glasser (to glide) may seem, each of these moves put the feet of the ballerina under severe pressure especially when the practice for long hours and may cause foot and ankle injuries.
WHY DO BALLERINAS CUT THEIR FEET WITH RAZORS
The ‘pointie shoes’ which are often worn by ballerinas are soft and without cushioning and are prone to cause calluses, corns and blisters on the feet of the ballerinas which may prompt them to cut their feet with a razor. This is done in order to feel some kind of comfort and relief to the affected feet.
FACTORS THAT CAN INCREASE THE RISK OF LOWER EXTREMITIES INJURIES IN BALLERINAS
Some of the factors that can increase a ballerinas risk of dance injury include:
- Inexperience: Beginners who don’t have the skills or technique to meet the physical demands of ballerinas should ensure they follow the instructions of the ballet teacher.
- Poor Technique: The use of force between the floor and the ballerina’s feet can injure soft tissue and bone.
- Fatigue: Falls and injuries caused by sloppy technique are more likely to occur once the ballerina is tired.
- Hazardous Environment: Worn or ripped carpet, hard floor or uneven floor can cause bruises and strains on the ballerinas feet
- Overtraining: Overuse injuries can happen has a result of training for too long hours leading to split or sprains on the feet
- Failure to Rest after an Injury: Returning to dance just immediately after an injury can increase a ballerina’s chances of having a more severe form of bruise, cut or sprain, thereby aggravating symptoms.
- Good Feet Hygiene: Keeping the feet clean is essential for maintaining healthy feet. It is advisable to wear flip flops in public showers, change footwear regularly and wear dry socks especially one that has a high percentage of cotton as they absorb sweat easily.
COMMON CAUSES OF FEET PROBLEMS AMONG BALLERINAS
There are various foot problems arising from engaging in ballet dancing of which the ballerina’s feet are prone to various injuries and who may want to make use of the razor as a remedy.
The most commonest feet problems includes
Ingrown Toenails: During ballet dancing, a ballerina may apply lots of pressure only to the toes while dancing the pointe. This may cause either the edge or corner of the toenail to grow into the skin.
Bunions: While dancing, the ballerina may crowd her toes inside the pointe shoes which will in turn cause a tension on the big toe. This can cause a bony bump on the joint where the dancer’s big toe meets her foot.
Blisters and Calluses: A ballerina may experience a blister or calluses when there’s a friction between the toes and ballet movements. It could be as a result of the pointe shoes not fitted properly or broken in.
Metatarsalgia: This is as a result of inflammation of the ball of the foot as a result of overuse.
Sprained Ankle: Once the lateral side of the ankle is overworked for several hours per day, then the ankle would likely become sprained.
Broken or Black Nails: The overuse, overwork and repeated impact or even blisters can result in the toe nails turning black or breaking.
Stress Fracture: The overuse of the feet can lead to tiny cracks in the bone and this may feel worse when jumping or turning.
Morton’s Syndrome: A particular pinched nerve can cause pain to occur between the toes and the ball of the foot.
Hallux Rigidus: When the joint at the base of the big toe is injured, movement is hard especially to the affected toe.
Plantar’s Fasciitis: A painful inflammation of the tissues in the foot that extends from the heel to the toe.
Achilles Tendonitis: When the Achilles tendon is stressed because of overuse, it may likely cause a tear which could be severe and may require surgery, while the less serious case can be treated at home.
Note: In cases where a ballerina dances for long hours, especially the pointe dance, there’s a risk that an injury incurred during that period may lead to permanent damage which may require surgery to correct.
Some of which includes:
- Sesamoiditis: An inflammation of the sesamoid bones in the ball of the foot and its tendons, usually caused by overuse.
- Corns: are hardened layers of skin that occur as a result of friction between the floor and the foot.
- A hammer toe: Condition that affects the toe next to the big toe and is usually as a result of the abnormal bend in the middle joint.
- Heel spurs: Is a bony growth that develops around the heel bone and often caused by ill-fitting shoes.
As a result of the pressure being exerted on the feet, ballerinas are often seen stuffing their pointe shoes with the cotton wool or another soft material in the shoe, and tape around their feet, to protect their feet from injuries and also considering the time ballerinas spend on pointe shoes, conditions such as bunions that affect the bones can’t be removed by razor. This may become so bothersome that ballerinas will attempt to cut off the affected areas of their feet with razors to get some relief.
SIMPLE FEET CARE FOR BALLERINAS
Regular Exercise: Some exercises help in mobility, and strengthening of the feet. Because the feet are the foundations of learning ballet.
Wearing Proper Ballet Shoes and Attires: It is best to get fitted for a good pair of ballet shoes by a professional. However the importance of good-fitting street shoes cannot be overemphasized as it prevents bruises and calluses.
Cut Toenails Short: The length of the toenail should be straight and across. The toes must be kept clean to avoid ingrown nails.
Getting Enough Rest and Avoiding Overtraining: It is necessary that a ballerina takes rest especially in between practise session as well as after practice session. Enough rest gives room for better performance during ballet classes. As overtraining could lead to stress and tiredness and to this less efficiency.
Use of Moisturizer: Apply moisturizer to areas of the foot that are prone to developing calluses, corns and blisters. These foot moisturizers are often very rich and thick there, penetrating through the rough skin on your toe.
TREATMENT PLANS IN PREVENTING BALLERINAS FROM CUTTING THEIR FEET WITH RAZORS
Note: If an injury occurs during ballet practice, then it’s best to stop as continuing dancing would only make the injury worse.
A recommended First Aid treatment known as RICE is used.
- R– Rest
- I – Ice by applying it on the affected and swollen area. If the ice packs do no good to relieve swelling then heat can be applied.
- C – Compression by bandaging the swollen area
- E – Elevation by placing the affected feet on a high stool or chair.
Instant cold pack, pre-wrap, elastic bandages (for compression), crutches and topical pain reliever can also be used to prevent ballerinas from cutting their feet with a razor and also treat all soft tissue injuries such as bruises, sprains, calluses and strains to relieve pains, limit swelling and protect injured tissues. Also seek advice from the doctor as proper diagnosis is important. Surgery may sometimes be recommended as the last option but it’s best to discuss possible treatment options with the orthodontist or podiatrist.
The treatment plan made by the Podiatrist, a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of feet related conditions depends on the cause and severity. Cutting the feet with a razor is an improper way to care for the feet and as such, the ballerina should avoid doing so. The Podiatrist is in the best position to give treatment plans and recommend chemotherapy, physical therapy and surgery in severe cases.
The use of sharp objects like razor blades as a way to treat issues pertaining to the upfeet especially to the ballerinas must not be practiced and encouraged. This is not an effective way to take care of injuries, pains or discomfort that may arise as a result of ballet dance. Ballerina’s should ensure the work hand in hand with other well trained ballerina’s orthodontist and Podiatrists.
If there are pains in the foot that starts with or during a ballet activity, then consult with a medical specialist — preferably an orthodontist or a podiatrist with experience in treating dancers. They will be able to determine whether additional testing is needed and will formulate an appropriate treatment plan.
Although dancing ballet may look effortless, it still requires a lot of strength, flexibility and stamina that also comes with a high risk of injuries. And most of these injuries are incurred from overuse which are the most common cause of injury among ballet dancers. This may involve the ankle, leg, foot or lower back.