Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Noelani Pantastico was returning to dance after an injury when she made a "rookie mistake": After three months of intensive physical therapy to deal with an osteochondral defect—which caused damage to the cartilage and bone of her left ankle—she jumped into a rehearsal for Balanchine's Theme and Variations. She hurt her Achilles tendon, leading to another month and a half of recovery. "I was so excited to get back that it blinded me," says Pantastico.
Foot and ankle injuries can plague dancers at any level, even the most accomplished principals. If you are experiencing pain or concerned something's wrong, it's important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. But knowing the symptoms of some of the most common injuries can help lessen the sting if your dancing is temporarily derailed. We've broken down the symptoms, causes and pathways to recovery for several foot and ankle issues that ballet dancers may encounter.