If the shoe fits: Dr Gordon Waddington with 16-year-old ballet student Emily Clout. Photo: Melissa Adams
An Australian researcher is undertaking the first major redesign of ballet slippers since the 1600s.
The University of Canberra's professor of physiotherapy Gordon Waddington and Assistant Professor Jeremy Witchalls are working to give dancers extra "grip" and more control over their movements to prevent lower leg injuries.
"My research week sees me working with ballet dancers at one end and dealing with big rugby league footballers at the other," said Dr Waddington, who works across a number of sport disciplines.
"All of these people are quite similar, believe it or not, as they rely on having a very good perception of surface and the ground they are moving over. They rely on having very good movement control to do the things they need to do safely."
AdvertisementDr Waddington has developed an insole made from textured PVC which has a lined pattern so it locks into the skin - similar to a doormat but on a smaller scale.
It slips into the ballet shoe for barre work only, in the testing environment. Should it prove to increase surface perception and thus decrease ankle and lower limb injuries, the insole would be worn during all practice sessions, rehearsals and performances.
Classical kinetic educator at the Australian Ballet School, Janet Karin, a long-time fan of Dr Waddington's work, has enlisted her students for an 11-week trial using a PVC shoe insert.
"I came across Gordon's work and the research he was doing into the movement of footballers and geriatrics more than 10 years ago, but the technology wasn't available back then. These changes could be revolutionary, not just for dancing but for all movement-based sports and activities," Ms Karin said.
"We are four weeks into the trial and are just using the insert … for barre work at the moment. Some have said they don't notice it, while others have said they find it 'interesting'.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/dance/ballet-gets-to-grips-with-its-inner-sole-20130514-2jkjq.html#ixzz2UYc2oRBY