WOMEN inspired to slip on a pair of ballet shoes after seeing the hit film Black Swan, starring actress Natalie Portman, have been warned they could be damaging their feet.
Experts said ballet shoes offer so little support they put pressure on the knees, hip and back, and people should take precautions.
They also issued a warning over popular 'ballet flats'.
The lack of heel and strap means they should only be worn for short periods, according to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.
"Professional dancers are no strangers to the perils of ballet shoes, which offer the feet little cushioning, leaving the lower leg and foot to absorb the full impact of movement," said Lorraine Jones, a podiatrist from the society.
"This puts increased pressure on the knees, hip and back, which over time can increase a person's chance of developing arthritis."
"The lack of support offered by the shoe can also lead to painful muscle strain.
"Ingrown toe nails and split nails are also common among ballet dancers," she added.
Ms Jones said people should make sure they take care if they have been inspired to take up ballet after seeing Black Swan.
She added that pointe shoes contain a hard resin block in the toe box, which can cramp and crush the toes, causing blisters, corns and split toe nails.
They also exacerbate bunions and other foot deformities.
Ms Jones said: "If you embrace ballet fashion then try to opt for a shoe with a slight heel and higher sides which offers the feet a little more support."