The Pressure on a Ballerina’s Feet

Welcome to All Sensors “Put the Pressure on Us” blog. This blog brings out pressure sensor aspects in a variety of applications inspired by headlines, consumer and industry requirements, market research, government activities, and you.

The Pressure on a Ballerina’s Feet

It looks so graceful when a professional ballerina executes classic ballet maneuvers and dances on the tips of her toes in pointe shoes (full relevé) and even hops across the floor. Getting to the graceful level takes a lot of training, practice and stress on the feet, ankles and more. The pressure on various portions of the foot have been the focus of several academic studies, some going back over 35 years or more. It turns out that simply walking in pointe shoes doubles the peak pressures acting on the foot compared to barefoot (860 kPa vs. 410 kPa).

Ballerina in pointe shoes

In one study, published in the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, pressure data were collected with a high-speed, high-scan pressure platform sampling at 100 Hz. Female dancers in training, approximately 13.5 years old, were the test subjects and measurements were made as the dancers rose from demi-plié to demi pointe (intermediate pressure conditions). The researchers measured pressure and force data for barefoot, soft shoes, demi-pointe shoes and pointe shoes and pressure was recorded for specific areas of the underfoot for each shoe condition. In pointe shoes, the peak pressure is over 3 times the mean barefoot pressure.

Foot Pressure Chart

Another study of dancers in full pointe found that the average pressure on the toe box while on pointe is 220 psi or 1.5 MPa with the majority of the weight (pressure) concentrated on first toe. Even more dramatic results are a 60-kg (132-lb) ballerina landing on pointe from a height of one meter generates an impact force of approximately 4950 N or 700 psi. Its no wonder ballerinas feel they are under a lot of pressure.

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