Black Swan Ballerina Feet

The movie Black Swan and its stars Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis have been nominated for a ton of awards at the Oscars and have already won an award at the recent Golden Globes. However, the most award-worthy stars of this movie were the beaten down feet of Natalie Portman’s character “Nina Sayers” and their ability to keep on dancing with so many issues!!

Dancers are especially subject to injuries because of the thin, relatively unsupportive nature of their footwear. The type seen in the movie are a type of pointe shoe. These shoes allow the dancers to be “standing” completely on the tips of their toes. Just think about how badly walking around on the very tips of your toes would hurt after awhile, and now imagine leaping and spinning around on a hard floor with your foot in this position – Ouch!

According to an article on the complications caused by pointe shoes in ballet, lateral ankle sprains are the most common injury suffered by ballerinas. An example of a lateral sprain appears to occur in “Black Swan” when Nina is practicing her choreography on the tips of her toes, rolls her ankle out and hears a “pop” noise. Pain and swelling in the ankle also occur at this point. This is one example of when Nina may have wanted to call her podiatrist because serious ankle sprains can require surgery for proper healing.

Toenail problems are also commonly seen by dancers and appear in “Black Swan”. Nina’s mother is seen cutting her toenails to a painfully short length which increases the likelihood of developing an ingrown toenail. Combine too short nails and the pressure of dancing on the tips of your toes and you’ve got the perfect storm for the corner of the nail to grow into the skin surrounding the nail. This can be very painful and often occurs around the nail of the big toe. Ingrown toenails can lead to infection. A podiatrist can alleviate pain caused by the ingrown toenail, plan the proper course of treatment for healing of the ingrown nail and infection, and work to prevent future ones from occurring.

When watching this movie, aspiring ballerinas should not think that living with so many painful foot ailments is normal. All athletes (and non-athletes too!) need to recognize that their foot pain can often be relieved to drastically improve the quality of their athletic performance and everyday life by consulting a doctor of podiatric medicine. Nina was clearly CRAZY in more ways than one, but especially for not taking better care of the most important tool of a ballerina: her feet!!

Please visit for more information or call 614-885 FEET (3338) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.

By Dr. Animesh (Andy) Bhatia