Do ballet dancers damage their feet by dancing en pointe?

Question from Cassie Yelverton

Ballet dancers perform with perfectly pointed toes using shoes that have solid blocks built into them. While this may look elegant, balancing on the tips of the toes puts enormous strain on all the joints of the foot.

Professional ballet dancers often suffer from broken nails, bruised joints and swollen ankles as a result of a busy schedule of rehearsals and shows. In the long term, dancing en pointe can even cause the cartilage in the toes and feet to degenerate.

Answered by Katy Sheen for Brain Dump in How It Works issue 105.

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