To some, dancing is a hobby. With talent and a little practice, you can wow a crowd. However, for individuals looking to venture into it professionally, dance classes are almost a requirement. In these classes (regardless of the dance type), you will be taught proper form and grow your dancing skills past the ‘talent’ phase. After all, talent can only take you so far.
As a professional dancer, you do not have to study anatomy to make it. However, you do need some general knowledge of the muscles. A firm understanding of the human foot especially is crucial to dancers.
Fun fact: the body of an adult human has 208 bones. Surprisingly enough, 52 of these bones, are in the human feet. Though tiny, they are important and crucial in providing balance, support and propel the body. These purposes and functions are crucial to dancers striving to be the best.
That said, as a professional dancer, you need to maintain healthy feet. For this, you at the very least need some understanding of them. To get you started, below are some dancer foot care tips. And no, these do not include a pedicure. They are general steps that will help prevent as well as treat foot injuries.
Traditional pedicure treatments get rid of calluses. Yes, they are unsightly. However, as a dancer, you should learn to appreciate these thick and rough spots on your skin. Why? Well, they serve as protection against blisters and abrasions.
That said, keep them trimmed lest they become painful. When a callus grows too thick, it feels bumpy and presses against the shoe and the dance floor.
Rather than soak your callused feet, use pumice stones to treat them. Be gentle and cautious not to break the calluses open. A breakage might lead to an infection.
Trim short your toenails
This may not be I line with traditional fashion trends. But again as a dancer, you will have to make some sacrifices. Cut your toenails short and straight. Cutting them curved may result in ingrown nails which can be painful.
When trimming, leave a small level of white nail. Use high quality nail clippers instead of scissors as it gives better results.
Stay away from nail polish
Now, before you get all worked up, it is not that you should not ever have pretty colours on your toenails. You can. However, limit nail polish for special events like prom and weddings. If you really have to do nail polish, use the clear one. This will allow you to see what is going on underneath. Any signs of bruising or ingrown nails can be dealt with immediately.
Watch the big toes
If there is one body part dancers should keep a watchful eye over, it is the big toes. This is more so for the dancers who have to wear pointe shoes. Protecting the big toe should be a priority. Ideally, what you are looking for is any bruising, missing toenails or discolouration.
When you notice your toe is coloured blue or black, notify your instructor immediately and attend to it.
Get rid of the corns
We have mentioned that calluses can be beneficial when kept in check. Corns, on the other hand, are useless. If anything, they do more harm than good. Unfortunately, most dancers (ballet dancers especially) are prone to developing these.
If your corns are persistent, make a point of seeking advice from a podiatrist on how to get rid of corns or get advice when you next attend fitting for your pointe shoes.
Wearing shoes that lack hosiery will increase your chances of developing hosiery. It does not matter if these are ballet or street shoes.
Just like corns and calluses, you might not avoid blisters. Usually, they appear when you are wearing new shoes or when the friction becomes too intense. Blisters can appear anywhere. They, however, love the surface of your toes, the back of your heels and the outer and inner border of metatarsals.
It is important to note that there are two types of blisters; red and clear blisters. They each have different methods of care. You can pop a clear blister but be sure not to remove the skin. As for blood blisters, do not pop it. Cover it with gauze and let it heal naturally.
Alternate your dancing shoes
It might not seem important to you but shoes are very important to your dancing success. While they give you a good grip on the dancing stage, they also ensure your feet are not infected. That is why you need at least two dancing pairs and you should not wear either for two consecutive dancing sessions. You should give them time to dry and fungi will have no place to hide.
Moisturise your feet
A good moisturiser goes a long way to keep your feet healthy and fit. Your dancing trainer or an experienced dancer should be able to make a recommendation. Ensure you focus on areas that are most likely to develop corns, blisters and calluses. Make moisturising a regular regimen if you want to get the best results. It is advisable that you use it before bedtime and cover it with socks to maximize on moisturising benefits.
Always have your padding on
If you are into ballet dancing, padding should be your daily routine to take good care of your feet. Your ballet pointe shoes will be comfortable and safe for your feet if the padding is done properly. You can either choose wool toe padding or gel toe padding, whichever makes you comfortable.
Wear the right shoe size
We talked about not having less than two pairs of dancing shoes but we did not talk about shoe sizes. Ensure you get it right with each pair of your dancing shoes. Shoes larger or smaller than your feet size will be an invitation to blisters and corns. You do not want this for your dancing career. To get it right, visit a dancing shoe store and fit each pair before you buy it.
Deal with injuries as soon as they happen
Feet injuries do happen and they should not scare you. While you should do all you can to avoid them, when they happen you should know how to deal with them. The first thing you should do is visit a podiatrist. You will get an assessment of the injury and how to take care of it. This way, you will never be sidelined for long.
And with that, you are ready to dance your way to fame. Have fun, but remember healthy feet are important. If you experience a dance injury, seek professional help. Do not let your feet be the reason why you miss out on a big dancing day.