Ballroom Dancing: Step Softer with Custom Orthotics

August 05, 2018

A history of “Dancing with the Stars” TV competition reads like a glossary of foot, ankle, knee, hip, and back injuries. Serious dancers are serious athletes, and participation rarely involves the benefit of the lightweight, sport-specific footwear that most athletes use. Whether professional or recreational, ballroom dancing takes its toll on participants’ feet and ankles. Injuries abound and chronic conditions go with the territory.


Ballroom dancing requires an entirely different wardrobe of shoes, for men and women. Men wear a fairly standard lace-up oxford, not unlike a regular dress shoe. Women’s dance shoes are heels, ranging in height from 1” – 3”, the standard being 2.5”. All dance shoes have thin, suede soles, to facilitate smooth gliding across the dance room floor. It’s no wonder ballroom dancers experience foot and ankle disorders, with so little support on such a hard surface. Although some women’s dance shoes boast built-in arch support or cushioning technology, ballroom dance instructors and studios recommend wearing orthotics.   


The dedicated ballroom dancer needs orthotics custom-designed specifically for their individual feet, inserts that can accommodate their flat foot or too-high arch, or protect a budding neuroma. Without adequate support, dancers are at risk of falling victim to any of these common dance injuries:


  • Metatarsalgia (inflammation of the ball of the foot) is caused by the “pushing-off” for a jump or lift. High-impact sports also can cause this painful condition.
  • Sesamoiditis / “turf toe” triggers pain in the ball of the foot, specifically under the big toe. It’s more common with high-impact styles of dance.
  • Stress and “dancers’ “ fractures are small breaks of the long bone on the outside of the foot / lower leg. It usually happens after the dancer has performed a jump.
  • Shin splints are an overuse injury that trigger pain in front of the shin bone (tibia). They are often caused by flat feet.
  • Hammertoe is usually genetic; however, it can develop in dancers as a result of tearing ligaments on the bottom of the toes.
  • Plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinopathy are both overuse injuries that can sideline a dancer.
  • Ankle impingement is a common dance condition triggered by the dancer over-extending their foot toward the shin (dorsiflexion), causing compression of bony or soft tissues in the anterior ankle joint.
  • Heel spurs are often the result of untreated plantar fasciitis. They cause chronic pain and in some cases require EPAT treatment or surgical removal.
  • Morton’s neuroma develops in dancers because of the impact of the foot being pushed forward in high heels. It can be difficult to treat.


Off-the-shelf, mass-produced orthotic inserts cannot provide the protection a ballroom dance athlete needs. Whether you want to safeguard against injuries or need extra support while recovering from one, custom-designed orthotics can fire up your foxtrot.  Ask your podiatrist which style of orthotic is best for your dancing regimen, and choose from our many styles, including sport and high heel. Custom fit and order from the comfort of your home. Call 888-736-5964 or email us at