Plantar fasciitis diagnosis for dancers

Dancers are often prone to a wide variety of injuries. The overwhelming majority of injuries are of the foot or ankle, which is completely expected given the many strenuous hours that dancers put on them. Many dance styles require repetitious strain on all the muscles, joints, and ligaments of the lower half of the body. Frequent use of these body parts can lead to different injuries. Understanding the nature of your injury can help you avoid injuring the body further, and can help you focus your rehabilitation on the specific injury for maximizing recovery speed!

plantar fasciitis injury for dancers

Plantar fasciitis diagnosis

Plantar fasciitis is a highly specific disorder of the connective tissue at the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis produces pain in the bottom of the foot, both in the arches and at the heel. The sensation of pain is generally very sharp. if the pain is more severe when the foot and toes are pointed upwards (bringing the top of the foot closer to the shin), this may be plantar fasciitis.

Usually, there is pain at the very beginning of the day when you first get out of bed, or if you had been sitting for a while. The insertion point between the ligament and the bone can be injured with repetitive strain, especially in dance styles like ballet, as standing on releve can cause excess stress on the feet. Many of these dance styles actually cause micro tears that can take a long time to heal, especially since dancers get very little rest time in between rehearsal or performances.

After a dance class, the pain may be more severe. If you already have flat arches, and if you day job requires a lot of standing, you may be at additional risk for plantar fasciitis. You may experience tenderness at the base of the foot when you touch it. Outside of the dance studio, heel pain may be a result of plantar fasciitis.

Physical rehabilitation

In the majority of plantar fasciitis cases, the pain resolves itself automatically with rest. Unfortunately, this becomes difficult when a dancer has several obligations. There are a few options that may decrease the pain from plantar fasciitis and help bring you back to full strength.

  • Consider wearing a night splint when not dancing. For example, try putting on the splint for short periods of time while you’re at home. It may take a while to get used to wearing the splint, since it may be painful the first few uses. Over time, the body adapts. Eventually, the splint will help stretch out the tendons and ligaments in the foot, which should decrease the pain you experience while dancing.

  • Ice treatment can ease the pain. Something as simple as a lightly insulated ice pack on the bottom of the foot can for 10 minutes a day can go a long way to relieve the pain!

  • Stretching the muscles in the leg can also help. In particular, the calf muscles and the muscles in the shin can help alleviate the pain in the sole of the foot.

  • If the pain persists, NSAID drugs like aspirin or ibuprofen can help decrease the pain. Remember that pain is a warning sign that the body is experiencing something potentially injurious, so pay attention to your body. If you insist on continuing to dance despite the plantar fasciitis pain, continuing to stress the body could lead to more severe injuries down the line.

Tips for owning a dance studio

For many of us, being a dancer is only a small part of the bigger, lifelong goal. Ultimately, dancers want the chance to inspire a new generation of dancers, to train younger dancers to reach their goals, and to provide the opportunity for the youth to become more educated in the ways of dance. Additionally, the sustainability of building a career out of dance relies on having a strong clientele that allows you to keep dancing in the long term. All of these dreams can be fulfilled by owning your own dance studio. At Dance Work Balance, we have gathered information from dancers who have set up their own dance studio, and we compiled a list of some of the most valuable pieces of advice that may help you get your own studio up and running.

tips for owning dance studio

Being a dance studio owner is different from being a dancer

This one is fairly self explanatory, but one of the most overlooked aspects of running a dance studio. As the owner of a studio, you will spend a significant amount of time doing things that are peripherally related to dance, but aren’t actually dancing. Some estimates say that you will be working on all other aspects of your dance studio (running your business and promoting your business for a start!) by an order of magnitude: For every hour you spend dancing, expect to put in about ten hours doing all the behind the scenes logistics that needs to go into making your studio function.

Develop your interpersonal skills

Being a studio owner involves interacting with clients much more than you ever did working in the entertainment industry. In the end, you will be spending much energy trying to make sure that your clients remain with you over time. The first year of being a studio owner will force you to learn new modes of interaction. Although the younger dancers who are in the studio are under your wing, in the end, you still need to be willing to appease the parents or the adults who are part of the studio.

Spend more time listening than speaking, especially when meeting potential new clients. Make sure you get an understanding for what their intent is on joining the studio, or what they want their children to gain after being a part of your dance studio. What skills do they want to gain? What dance styles are they most interested in? Are they interested in pushing and challenging themselves, or do they just want a venue to dance?

Of course, you can’t teach every class there. Naturally, you’ll also have to think of the instructors who you hire in your studio to teach classes. This is another time for you to work on your interpersonal skills. Some of your instructors will be wonderfully responsive, great teachers, well loved by their students, and responsible. They are obviously not your problem! The issue will be the handful of instructors you hire who are irresponsible, who do not regularly show up on time for their classes, and do not respond to your texts, emails, or messages. It now becomes a difficult question of what to do: Can you inspire them to become a better employee? Or do you warn them a few times before letting them go? It becomes a difficult question in the middle of the dance season when their students still depend on them until the recital.

Related to your interpersonal skills, spend time networking.

Learn secondary skills

The two main important skills as a dance studio owner are obviously dance and business sense. But on top of that, there are so many other skills that you should learn to become a successful dance studio owner.

You will have to become knowledgeable in legal issues regarding your city and state with respect to running a business. On a related note, there are many differences in business taxes that are different from doing your personal taxes. They can be quite overwhelming the first year, but they soon become routine. Just expect to put aside extra time at the beginning!

own dance studio tips

To be successful in your endeavor, you’ll have to learn videography, photography, and marketing skills - something that dancers aren’t always knowledgeable in. Luckily, in the generation of the internet and YouTube, you can very quickly and easily find how to run a marketing campaign using a combination of your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and every other social networking site available. You’ll have to learn the most basic features of photo editing software, you’ll learn the foundations of video editing software, and you’ll learn how to manage analytics like a pro.

Of course, music editing is an essential skill for any dancer, but you may have gotten away with not learning how to do it yourself. When you start running your studio and you have several groups of dancers who need their own cut of music, you may have to learn how to do it yourself. Software such as Adobe Audition isn’t free, but it’s wonderfully intuitive software. Alternatively, Audacity is the premier free, open-source audio editing software.

As stressful as it will be running your own dance studio, in the end, you will learn the business from the inside out. You’ll acquire a wide set of skills that are applicable across any other career. Your CV will be full with after running your studio for just a few years! Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Talk to other studio owners, they were once in your shoes.

Are you a night owl? Here's what science says about you

The bulk of the data reported in this article are taken from epidemiological studies, which carries some disclaimers.


This description of late chronotype people is a lot like a horoscope or a line from your fortune cookie. "A THRILLING TIME IS IN YOUR FUTURE" doesn't guarantee any truths about your inevitable and unchanging destiny. Instead, the wisdom on that slip of waxy paper offers you a filter through which you can view the as-of-yet unwritten future - or better yet, it can serve as a catalyst that sparks an immediate action on your part to produce some positive change in your life.

Second, the reported findings are a one way street. If you start staying up late every night, and even if you successfully shift your chronotype, it doesn't mean that you will suddenly (or even gradually) become more creative, for example. The results point to correlations, not to causations. 

You being a night owl doesn't guarantee ANY outcome. Instead, think of the findings written below as a heads-up for what traits you could have in common with others of your similar chronotype. You still have the capability to change any trait you dislike while embracing the characteristics that you do like.

The Good

1. Smarter

A study published by researchers at the University of Madrid showed that night owls and evening type people performed better on an inductive reasoning test compared to their early morning compatriots. Inductive reasoning can be used as an indicator of general intelligence, which in turn could predict future success.

Despite these markers of intelligence, night owls may perform worse than morning people academically. Since school tends to start around 8 or 9 in the morning, these academic environments benefits those with an early chronotype, while the late chronotype people are still struggling to wake up in the first place.

Related: How to shift your chronotype earlier

2. More creative


In addition to performing well on logical reasoning tests, there is reason to believe that evening types excel at creative thinking. In an Italian study published in the academic journal Personality and Individual Differences, subjects were given a set of tasks to assess creativity, including making a picture out of a set of randomly placed shapes and lines. (As an added bonus, they found that the heightened creativity seen in these late night people were maintained even through old age!)

3. Stronger

According to a small study, night owls also have a physical strength advantage over morning people - but only during the darkness of night. Dr. Olle Lagerquist, one of the authors of the study, theorizes that an increase in strength occurs when the excitability levels of the spinal cord and the motor cortex align. In evening type people, this tends to occur at night. Strangely, morning people do not have a boost of strength in the morning. But still, night owls will likely struggle during morning tests of strength, while the early birds will perform equally well either at night or in the morning.

Property of bill watterson, "Calvin and Hobbes"

Property of bill watterson, "Calvin and Hobbes"

4. Work well under pressure

Being at a mental peak in the evening may have some non quantifiable advantages. As a night owl, I found that late night deadlines often work in my favor. I focus very well as the night sets in, which makes it easy to crank out a last minute paper to meet that 11:59 PM submission deadline.

5. Able to spend time on self improvement

I spend a good amount of my evening energy focused on personal projects, outside of the usual work / dance. Thanks to my proclivity towards those late night hours, I find that I still have mental energy AFTER work and dance for other side projects: writing articles for this website, learning about web marketing, and doing some volunteer work with Rooted in Motion. 

The Not-So-Good

1. Depression

Some research indicates that night owls are more prone to developing depressive states, a study which has been repeated across different cultural groups. Neurobiological explanations aside, depression seems to be more common among animal test subjects that were exposed to light night and day (sleep deprivation was controlled for.) The researchers theorize that unnatural exposure to light during the night may somehow contribute to the onset of depression.

2. Sleeplessness

Night owls are also more prone to developing insomnia. As the argument goes, since you are still asleep late into the AM, you'll likely not awaken until the sun is already high in the sky. Because of this, you have already missed several hours of morning sun. Direct sunlight is an important signal to set your circadian rhythm in sync, as production of the sleepy-ness inducing hormone melatonin is sensitive to sunlight.

3. Poor physical shape

In addition to being prone to psychological conditions, night owls may also be predisposed to physical health problems as well. A Korean study found that late sleepers are more likely to develop diabetes and have an unhealthy metabolic profile including high blood sugar and excess body fat, signs that could predispose someone to obesity. As a caveat of this finding, the researchers also observed that the late chronotype subjects were more likely to smoke and exercise less - although I know dancers who smoke, they are the overwhelming minority. And the "chicken or the egg" problem arises here: Do poor lifestyle decisions precede a late chronotype, or the other way around?   

Conclusions: How to use your chronotype to your advantage


For each of these findings above, there are both advantages and disadvantages. Knowing your chronotype by itself is just knowing a bunch of facts: neat, but not directly applicable. But bringing these random facts to a cash game of pub trivia can allow you to transform these facts into money. And this is what you need to do with your knowledge of your individual circadian rhythm.

Turn your chronotype into your advantage. Use the strengths of your night owl-ness! Switch on that creativity and work distraction free while the rest of the world is dozing. Be smart about procrastinating: You can knock out quality work last minute IF you have enough time. Take advantage of your high levels of mental energy at the end of the long work / dance day, and sign up for free online classes to expand your knowledge. Go out and be social! It's an important part of staying healthy.

On the other hand, be aware of your potential weaknesses and actively fight against them. Maybe other night owls are predisposed to obesity. Take that knowledge and transform it into a promise to keep exercise as a part of your daily routine. For us dancers, staying active is what we do! 

Don't be afraid of the dark. Own the night.

Read more about your chronotype and circadian rhythm here:

What is a chronotype? The psychological basis of sleepiness

We all have a biological clock that dictates when we wake up and get tired each day. This internal clock is partially driven by a region in the brain that sends hormonal signals to the rest of the body, and makes a full rotation approximately every 24 hours. This cycle is called the circadian rhythm, and uses hormones to communicate with the body roughly what time of the day it is. It is believed that even cells outside of the brain have cellular signals that cycle in 24 hour periods even without any external influences!

Everyone's individual circadian rhythms are slightly different. Some of us have rhythms that cycle just under 24 hours, causing us to hop out of bed and hit the floor running as soon as the sun rises. Others of us have slightly longer circadian rhythm cycles; we are the ones who aren't fully functional until noon, feel most alert late into the evening, and tend to stay awake even as the clock rolls onto the next day.

Simply put: Your chronotype is your circadian rhythm - it determines when you feel awake and when you feel sleepy.

In 1976, two psychology researchers Horne and Ostberg developed a quiz that identifies your chronotype. The quiz, called the "Morningness - Eveneningness Questionnaire," gives you some clue about how your individual biological clock is synchronized with the 24 hour-day clock. 

You can take the MEQ for yourself here. At only 19 multiple-choice questions, it's a short quiz, and takes less than 5 minutes from start to finish. When you finish the quiz, it will give you a numerical score - A low score means you are an "evening type" with a late chronotype, while a high score puts you in the "morning type" camp along with others with an early chronotype. At the extreme ends of the spectrum fall the "night owls" and "morning larks," whose circadian rhythms tend to run far longer or shorter than the average.

Why should I take the MEQ?

Understanding your circadian rhythm allows you to most efficiently plan your day. You'll be taking advantage of your personal body chemistry to maximize your alertness and productivity. 

For the handful of rare morning-type people out there in the college aged demographic, you'll be best off registering for difficult classes early in the morning while your mental focus is still strong. Morning type people should try to schedule challenging tasks such as interviews, meetings, and studying earlier in the day rather than later. These early risers may find it difficult to pull late night study sessions, since their focus tends to fall off later in the evening. Morning type people may have an easier transition to the workforce, since the traditional 9-5 work hours benefit those who function best in the morning.

Evening types, on the other hand, will benefit from doing the opposite - schedule difficult classes later in the day after fully waking, schedule interviews and meetings in the afternoon, and try to accomplish their daily to-do list in the evening. Late night studying, so often the norm on college campuses, works in the favor of these people.

I'd encourage you to take the MEQ (link). If you aren't already doing so, try and schedule your day around when your mental state is at peak performance.

When I took the MEQ, I scored a 43, which sits in the intermediate range, although I know I am definitely an evening type - I am currently typing up this article at 1 in the morning, and my mind is still brimming with ideas. I'm curious what kind of score you get on the MEQ, and if you think it accurately represents your chronotype. Feel free to share in the comments below.

Want to learn how to get better sleep when your circadian rhythm tells you it's bedtime? Check out these related articles.

Anatomy of the knee for dancers

The human body in motion is remarkably complex. With 206 bones, 650+ muscles, about 900 ligaments and over 4,000 tendons, the anatomy of our musculoskeletal system can take years of study to fully master. This article was written to give you a quick overview on how the knee operates.

This article is part of an anatomy-focused series on dancer physiology. Join our email list to receive updates when new anatomy articles are published!

Some parts of the body are understandably complicated. Think about the hand, the appendage that lets us manipulate our surroundings with enough fine precision to use a keyboard and mouse, to crochet, or to perform brain surgery. We all assume correctly that it takes a whole host of muscles and all 27 bones in the hand in order to carry out the motor control needed for these intricate tasks. Other parts of the body though, can seem simple from the outside, despite having underlying "machinery" of remarkable complexity. The knee is one such example.

Arguably simpler than the hand, the knee looks like a crude, blunt, rounded joint that only allows for one direction of movement in a single plane of axis. But this club-like outer appearance belies the internal complexity. The knee joint must be flexible to allow bending during walking or running, yet strong enough to stabilize a person and bear the majority of body weight while standing. The many small, moving parts underneath the skin are still being discovered - In fact, orthopedic surgeons in 2013 characterized a new ligament called the anterolateral ligament, one that hadn't been definitively described despite past centuries of medical inquiry. 

The parts of the knee

There are three bones that make up the knee joint: The femur (thigh bone), patella (knee cap) and tibia (shin bone). These bones are held together by tough connective tissue called ligaments. But the bones do not make direct contact with each other. Instead, rigid and flexible tissue called cartilage acts as shock absorbers to prevent the bones from rubbing against each other. In specific, the lateral and medial meniscus act as a buffer at the interface between the tibia and femur. There are also several muscles that allow control over the knee, some of the major ones include the quadriceps (thigh muscle) for straightening the knee, and the semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris (collectively, the hamstring muslces) and gastrocnemius (calf muscle) for bending.  

The knee itself is a hinge joint, meaning that it can only flex and extend in a single plane of motion, much like a door that can only swing open in one direction. Compared to a ball-and-socket joint, like that found in the shoulder, the knee joint can only twist or rotate about 40 degrees without training. If the knee is forcibly twisted or bent outside of the normal plane of motion, you risk injuring one of the many ligaments that normally act to stabilize the knee.

Two ligaments that are often injured in athletes and dancers are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL). Collectively, these two intersecting ligaments are responsible for keeping the tibia in line with the femur, giving your knee the stability to keep you in an upright standing position. Two other major ligaments are the medial collateral ligament (MCL) and the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), which both serve to stabilize the joint from side-to-side motions. The MCL stabilizes the inside of the knee joint and connects the femur with the tibia, while the LCL serves a similar function for the outside of the knee, but connects the femur with another bone in the lower leg, the fibula. 

Of course, the information presented here a rough, simplified overview of knee anatomy. For a more detailed anatomical description, Wikipedia has a very comprehensive page about the knee. You may also be interested in this interview with Dr. Craig Westin, an orthopedic surgeon with a specialty in sports medicine who works with the Joffrey Ballet and the US Figure Skating Team. He talks about some common knee injuries among dancers.

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