Dancing and foot care

 “Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!”  – Constanze Mozart

Dancing is an amazing form of art. By dancing, you can express yourself in whatever way possible. Dancing can take many forms, from traditional dancing which has been taught from generation to generation, to more modern and freestyle forms of dancing.

Whichever form you decide to take, it is important to take care of your feet and make sure that you are wearing the correct footwear for each kind of dance. Both professional and amateur dancers place extreme pressure on their feet and are often vulnerable to injury. 

It is important to warm up the muscles before dancing to avoid overuse injury, as well as stretching the muscles after the dancing session has ended. This will help the muscles return to their former state and prevent muscle pulls and tears. 

We will look into a few forms of dancing to see how your feet can become affected. 

Ballet dancers tend to place all their weight on the forefoot and mostly on their toes, especially when wearing pointe shoes. Before a dancer starts wearing pointe shoes, their instructor must be sure that their feet are strong and ready to support their weight. Ballet dancers often suffer with ingrown toenails and callosities on the small joints of the toes. If a dancer notices any problems they should seek help as these issues can cause a lot of pain and prevent them from dancing.

Another form of dancing which has become very popular in recent years is social latin dancing. Good co-operation from your dance partner is very important – one wrong move can end up in injury to your toes. Female dancers wear high heeled dance shoes. This places a lot of pressure on the forefoot. Dancers may develop callosities on the ball of the foot and also pain in the forefoot due to the extra pressure placed with every step.

Dancing can make your body reach its limits. Dancers can suffer with overuse injuries which may cause heel pain, knee pain and even ankle sprains. It is important for a dancer to ‘listen’ to their body and seek help when needed. A podiatrist can help with nail care and general foot care to remove hard skin. A podiatrist can examine the way your body and feet work and provide you with the proper shoes or insoles for your everyday shoes, or even for your dance shoes if there is space to accommodate an insole.

There are some things that you can do to look after your feet as much as possible:

  • Keep your nails trimmed short to avoid injury. Trim your nails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails
  • Avoid painting your nails as this can hide signs of injury and therefore delay treatment
  • Seek help if you develop blisters. If you are prone to blisters, try applying deodorant to your feet as this can reduce friction
  • You can also use bandages to reduce friction
  • Gently file calluses to reduce pain levels. Avoid using sharp instruments as this can cause unnecessary injury to the underlying skin
  • Toe pads and metatarsal cushions help reduce pressure on your joints and protects them from rubbing against the shoes
  • Soaking your feet in warm salt water and massaging them regularly will provide relief from the strain and tiredness experienced when dancing

‘Dancers are the athletes of God’ – Albert Einstein

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