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From the ACSM mtg: The Effects of Dance Training on Children’s Foot Arch
Jai-yuan Zhang, Kuo-Wei Tseng, Yu-Hua Tseng, Hung-Wen Cheng.
Since many dancing movements enhance the tone of foot flexors and strengthen the foot arch, dancing has been used as a rehabilitation exercise to treat flat feet. However if the soft tissues are overstretched, the stability of the arch could be reduced.
PURPOSE: This study aimed to investigate if dance training in childhood changes normal foot arch development.
METHODS: 60 children were involved in the study: children in grade three who had dance training (DT3, 8.8±0.3 yrs, n=15); children in grade six who had dance training (DT6, 11.9±0.3 yrs, n=15); children in grade three who had no dance training (NT3, 9.0±0.3 yrs, n=15); and children in grade six who had no dance training (NT6, 11.9±0.3 yrs, n=15). The bilateral non-weight bearing navicular drop index (NDI) in a sitting position, and the even-weight bearing NDI in a standing position were measured for all subjects.
RESULTS: On the non-weight bearing test, NDI of DT6 and UT6 were lower than DT3 and UT3 (0.563±0.056 & 0.527±0.034 vs. 0.675±0.084 & 0.616±0.079, p<0.05). This result of non-weight bearing test shows that there is a natural maturation in NDI. On the weight bearing tests, NDI of UT6 were lower than UT3 (1.369±0.064 vs. 1.500±0.192, p<0.05), but there was no significant different between DT3 and DT6. Thus, the development of the foot arch is gradual and maturation occurred with age in groups who had no dance training, but this was not the case for the groups who had dance training.
CONCLUSION: Dancing during childhood might not influence the natural development of foot arch. But over-stretching movements may decrease the elasticity of the soft tissue in the feet, resulting in lowered foot arch and structural dysfunction.
Re: The Effects of Dance Training on Children’s Foot Arch
I'm curious as to what the researchers mean by "over-stretching movements". The primary movements of the foot in dance are plantarflexion and dorsiflexion so I'm a little mystified as to how these movements can "over-stretch" the foot and cause decrease in elasticity in soft tissue and structural dysfunction.
If this is what the researchers observed then they may have been observing the use of "foot-stretching" devices or activities amongst the dancing cohort which are supposed to increase the arch height of the foot but could well be causing structual dysfunction of the foot. I don't believe dance itself could be causing lowering of the arch and structural problems of the foot.
I did my MSc thesis on "foot-stretching" devices and activities in dancers and although it was not possible to link these devices to foot injury in dancers there has been an increase in male dancers with disruption of the LisFranc joint since about 2000 when these devices became commercially available. Before this time, female dancers reported this injury but it was generally believed it was an injury caused by pointe shoes.
Hopefully this study will be published in more detail in the future.
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