Basic foot care is an important part of a dancer’s preparation. Not only can taking proper care of your feet help you prevent injuries, but you can also improve your dance skill level.
Wear Properly Fitted Shoes & Padding
In order to ensure a proper fit, you’ll want to be certain you have a professional fit your pointe shoes. (Your dance instructor should be able to point you in the right direction.) If your pointe shoes don’t fit you just right, they could lead to foot or ankle injuries. The shoe box should properly accommodate your toes; otherwise, you’ll be at risk for blisters, ingrown toenails, or bruised toes.
In addition to making sure your ballet shoes fit properly, you can help avoid foot fungus by alternating between two pairs of shoes. Doing so will allow each pair to air out between uses.
Pointe shoes require padding in order to keep your feet protected. Be sure the toe box is padded with wool toe pads or gel pads.
Keep Feet Moisturized
Make moisturizing your feet part of your daily routine, taking extra care with areas where blisters, calluses, or corns tend to develop. Your ballet instructor, again, will be an excellent resource in recommending a thick moisturizer designed for the rough skin of your hard-working feet. For best results, apply the moisturizer on your feet before bedtime and then cover your feet with socks.
Consider Wearing Arch Bands
Arch bands can provide extra support for your feet, helping to prevent tendonitis. You should use these stretchy bands to wrap your feet before you put on your ballet shoes. If you’re recovering from a foot injury, keep your feet wrapped even when you change into your street shoes.
Be Careful About Dancing with Injuries
You may benefit from wrapping injured feet or toes with medicated gauze or a gel or foam padding before stepping out onto the dance floor. However, if the pain continues, you may need to take a couple days off from dancing in order to allow the injury to heal.
Know When You Need Medical Attention
If you continually have problems with your feet or ankles, you will benefit from a visit to a podiatrist. Otherwise, you risk the problems worsening and causing extra disruptions to your dance career.
Perform Foot-Strengthening Exercises
Many dancers work outside class time in order to strengthen their feet. You can use a towel or purchase a Thera-Band® for resistance in these exercises:
• Ankle rolls: Using the Thera-Band for resistance, slowly roll the ankle outward twelve times, and then inward twelve times. Rest and repeat until you’ve rolled each foot 36 times in each direction.
• Toe sit-ups: Simply point your toes and lift the toes up and then back to a pointed position. Repeat twelve times, rest, and then repeat two more sets.
• Pick up wash cloth: In a sitting position, pick up a wash cloth from the ground, using only your toes.
• Point and flex: In a sitting position and with the Thera-band around the top half of your foot, slowly point and flex your foot.
I get blisters all the time. Are my shoes not right for me? What should I do? Sometimes it keeps me from dance class for a week or more.
The best thing you can do is talk to your dance teacher and ask for a recommendation for a professional ballet shoe seller that you can – in person – meet and determine together what type of ballet shoe and what size will work best for you. They may also have some additional recommendations to help you be more comfortable with your dancing.