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Ballet Talk for Dancers


Kate B

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I've just got custom orthotics (after stress fractures) and since they are new, they do feel strange.


What I wondered was, has anyone else got them (I remember one or two other people have mentioned them in the past) and how long does it take to get used to them? Also, do you have to wear them at all times or do you find it OK to dance in just ballet shoes or barefoot?

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Hi Kate


I have orthotics, custom made in the USA while I was there. I have had them now for over a year and what a difference they have made. Yes they feel weird at first. It takes about a week for your feet to get used them, especially the arches. They may hurt or feel a bit sore. In fact if I ever buy new shoes, they always feel slightly strange for a while until I get used to them in the new shoe. So it is very dependent on what shoes you have. i.e. from now on when you ever buy new shoes you should have your orthotics with you and try them on with the orthotics in as they make so much difference. I have no problems with them in my trainers and I run a lot with them in without noticing. However, if I put them in an old pair of trainers that weren't fitted with the orthoticsin ughh its impossible to run in them.But overall, the relief I felt from wearing them for the very first time was way more than the discomfort I felt from having them.



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Hi Kate and Xena --


Thanks for posting about this! I had a 5th metatarsal stress fracture last year, and

among visits to three different doctors, no one even mentioned othotics to me!


So, I am curious, and interested in trying ANYTHING to keep from going through

that agony again... Did your doctors suggest them as a preventative for future

stress fractures? To correct alignment for your feet, or muscle stress in your feet?

All of the above? :bouncing: I'll do some research on line, and perhaps finally go visit a

podiatrist, but if you don't mind I also wanted to hear a bit more about how and

why you made the (admittedly expensive) decision to get them... I'd appreciate any

advice you would be willing to pass along.


Oh, and do they make them for guys like me, who have two left feet? :sweating:

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I had my orthotics prescribed because of my chondromalcia (runners knee..my knee cap wasn't tracking properly). It had caused me a great deal of pain over a period of three to four years.

Initially I went to my doctor, who was worried that I may have to have an operation. the next week I went for an MRI...a week later, she said it wasn't as bad as needing an operaiton but that I would have to go the Physical therapist, which I did the following week or so. My PT decided my left foot looked weak and so recommended me to go see a podiatrist. I went to the podiatrist, who took a fab X-ray of my foot, told me I had a few bones in places where they shouldn't be, and it was causing instability when I walked, which in turn affected my ankle-knee-hip. A couple of weeks later I had these great plaster casts of my feet done and a couple of weeks later i had my orthotics and the relief was immediate..although it was back to square one with ballet as I had to retrain, starting with the slowest demi plies in the world for what seemed like forever. i was utterly frustrated, angry, upset, annoyed.....but I perservered. my teachers were fantastic and the people on this board were fantastic. The price of them was $350, but I had insurance which covered them so I paid $10 for the visit or something along those lines.

I have a long long story whihc most folk son this board know inside out..if you use the search function you may find some of my sob stories! :bouncing:

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Thanks for your reply, Xena. I am glad to hear they have worked well for you. I am extremely jealous you had insurance - they are an expensive treatment if you go private here! But I am glad to hear they are worth it. I am going to have to buy a few pairs of new shoes, though.


Pirate, I got them for stress fractures. I got them in my first and second metatarsals. It was because I have a very high arch and was taking all the impact in the ball of my foot. The middle of my foot is rigid and, while it always looked good in pointe shoes, it turns out it's not such a great ballet foot after all.


Anyway, I have a really good therapist who is working with me a lot to help me sort my muscles out so they can protect my feet (does that make sense?) and my dance teacher is giving me exercises to do that will make my feet a bit more like they should be.


I'm terrified of getting a stress fracture again. They are painful and take so long to get better. I think if you want you could have a consultation with a sports/dance physio or a really good podiatrist and see if orthotics could help. It might be that other things were causing them and there is something else you could do.


Keep me posted though - it's good to hear I'm not the only one with stress fractures!

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Thanks, Kate and Xena --


Like Kate, I am very worried about getting another stress fracture,

so I will find a podiatrist and see what they would suggest, and how

much (if any) my insurance would cover. I'll also ask my teacher

what I can do to improve my feet through exercise.


Xena -- I appreciate hearing a little of what you've been through

with chondromalcia and orthotics. I used to run a lot, until I went

to graduate school in a cold and snowy city and completely quit one winter.

I also had knee troubles, so it sounds like I could have used orthotics

then (had I known).


This is probably a stupid question, but do you wear your orthotics

only in your street shoes, or do you also wear them in ballet shoes?


For some strange (lucky) reason the stress fracture I had last year

was not really painful as compared to other broken bones I've had,

but the lack of mobility drove me batty. I will follow your advice and

seek out a good sports medicine doctor, or podiatrist. Thank you both

again for your help!

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One thing to keep in mind is not to make too hasty a transition to the new orthotics. When switching to a new pair you should only wear them for a few hours the first day, few more the next and so on until you're up to a full day. This should only take a few days to transition. If you don't break them in slowly you run the risk of causing additional problems like stone bruises, etc.


When I take class I start with my orthotics in the shoes at barre. By the time we're into frappes I usually take them out. This helps warm up my feet and stretch all the ligaments and muscles our really well before center. I hate seeing how my feet look in the mirror at barre, but they feel a heck of a lot better the rest of the day.


I also have a very rigid arch and center of the foot so my metatarsels are not very flexible. This isn't as bad as it sounds. I find I can use this to my advantage when balancing in a position. It does make you foot look nice in a pair of shoes! :D

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Yes my old ballet school photographed my feet on pointe for a story in the local paper - I had the nicest looking feet (but perhaps not the best ones!) :wub:

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