Whether you are a jazz, modern, contemporary, ballet dancer, or the like, it is no secret, your success is literally hinging on your lowest limbs. Long term care and strengthening of these tenacious toes can help extend a dancer's career as well as enhance their current performances.
Common Toe Woes
Ninety percent or more of dancer foot injuries result from poor training, incorrect placement of the core, and finally improper turnout. Taking turnout in the ankle or knees rather than the inner thighs will cause a host of issues, including those concerning the feet. When in doubt, turn out.
Listed below are just a few issues you may run into as a dancer with foot fumbles.
- Bunions: There are really two main causes for bunions. If your grandma had them, chances are you may too, as they can be hereditary. You can also get them from calcium deposits which is your body's way of sending protection to overused parts of the body.
- Treatment: Bunions can be quite painful, even long after your career is over. While dancing, toe spacers may assist in proper alignment temporarily relieving pain and helping reduce further damage to the affected area. Identifying dancers who roll in and onto their big toe and correcting technique will also help prevent long term damage. Once your dancing days are over, surgery is always an option for those in severe and consistent pain.
- Plantar Fasciitis: This pain typically occurs when arch support is not present and can be felt when dancing and outside of class. Plantar Fasciitis is much like tendentious as it flares up with overuse of the foot. The fascia which connects the heel bone to the toes becomes inflamed and results in pain.
- Treatment: Make sure your dance floor is sprung and is not overly hard. Dancing on stages and concrete may cause this condition to flare up. It is always best to ice this injury after use and to slowly work the foot up to your full range of motion. Physical therapy may be an option for long term pain associated with this condition.
- Corns and Calluses: Although calluses are a dancer's prized possessions, corns are an altogether nuisance. They both aid in the protection of skin overtime. As a dancer, keep your calluses to help prevent future blistering, as ugly and rough as they may be, they are best for your protection and pain management while dancing on pointe or barefoot.
- Treatment: Corns can be treated by a podiatrist for clean and effective care. Seed corns may be removed then bandaged before dancing. Medical tape is much more effective and pain relieving than bandaids which easily slip off and rub against the wound.
Tricks and Tools of the trade
There are a few tools to consider using when building foot strength, though you can simply use the tool of taking a good dance class!
- Tape: Keep a roll of medical tape in your dance bag at all times for blisters and for securing injured toes.
- Elgin Archexerciser Foot Strengthening Device: Available on Amazon this tool gives resistance for foot exercises and helps the arch, and is especially useful for planter fasciitis.
- Elastic Bands: These bands can add extra resistance needed to maximize strength and flexibly of the feet and ankles. The amount of exercises that can be done with these bands are limitless and very effective.
The bottom line is that good foot care may be the difference of a life long career in dance or hanging up those pointe shoes early. Make sure to care and maintenance your feet and shoes throughout your training and dance career. When necessary seek the help of a professional doctor or physical therapist to diagnose and put together a plan for your foot health.