The Foot in Ballet Dancers: The Importance of Second Toe Length

D. J. Ogilvie-Harris, M. M. Carr, P. J. Fleming

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25 Scopus citations


Ballet dancers are prone to foot injuries. Our hypothesis was that the length of the second toe in relation to the big toe affected the distribution of stresses on the foot, correlating with calluses, injuries, and pain. Fifty-nine ballet dancers were examined for second toe length with respect to great toe, calluses, and metatarsophalangeal inflammation. Daily foot pain, limitation of work hours because of this, injuries, age, sex, and rank in the company were considered. The dancers’ feet had an incidence of shorter, equal, or longer second toes which was comparable to a non-ballet-dancing cohort (N = 60). In female dancers (N = 34), total callus counts and pain scores were significantly lower in the group with shorter second toes versus those with equal or longer second toes. Counts were unrelated to age or rank. Longer second toes were related to hallux rigidus. Limitation of practice hours, ankle sprains, and foot/ankle fractures and sprains were comparable across the groups. The male dancers (N = 25) had significantly fewer calluses than did the women, but had equal pain scores and number of injuries. There were no significant differences among the males in total callus counts, pain scores, limitation of practice hours, or injuries between groups based on toe length, age, or rank. We conclude that there is no significantly more ideal pattern of toe lengths for male ballet dancers, but females with shorter second toes have fewer calluses and less daily foot pain. Those with a longer second toe had a higher incidence of hallux rigidus and correspondingly increased pain scores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-147
Number of pages4
JournalFoot & Ankle International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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