Effect of Toe Type on Static Balance in Ballet Dancers

Objectives: Some forefoot shapes are ideal for pointe work in ballet. Egyptian-type, with the hallux being longest and the remaining toes decreasing in size, and Greek-type, with the second toe longer than the hallux, are considered less optimal for pointe work. Square-type, with the second toe the same length as the hallux, is considered optimal. This study compared postural stability in the bipedal stance, demi pointe, and en pointe between ballet dancers with the two toe types using a stabilometer.

Methods: This study included 25 Japanese ballet academy dancers who had received ballet lessons for at least 6 years. Toes were categorized into Egyptian-type (n=14) and square-type (n=11). Bipedal stance, demi pointe, and en pointe were tested. Center of pressure (COP) parameters were calculated from ground-reaction forces using two force plates: total trajectory length (LNG), velocities of anterior-posterior (VAP) and medial-lateral directions (VML), and maximum range displacement in the anterior-posterior (MAXAP) and medial-lateral directions (MAXML). Mann-Whitney U-tests were used to examine differences in COP parameters.

Results: There were no differences in parameters during bipedal stance or demi pointe. However, dancers with Egyptian-type toes had significantly greater LNG (p<0.01), VML (p=0.01), MAXML (p<0.01), and MAXAP (p=0.03) during en pointe.

Conclusions: Ballet dancers with Egyptian-type toes demonstrated greater displacement in the medial-lateral and anterior-posterior directions during en pointe. Ballet dancers should be aware of toe types and sway character to optimize ballet training and balance.

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