As you can see from the detailed images located here of the foot’s structure, the foot is a pretty complex part of the human body; in fact, your two feet include 52 of your body’s 208 bones. For most people, the foot’s purpose is already pretty significant, supporting the body and providing important propulsion and balance. For you as a dancer, these purposes gain even greater significance. Just like musicians must keep their instruments finely tuned, dancers must take especially good care of their greatest commodities: their feet.
Foot care for dancers begins with proper maintenance, to both prevent and treat injuries and maintain foot health.
Cut Your Toenails Correctly
Dancers need to keep their toenails short and cut them straight across, rather than curved. Otherwise, dancers run the risk of acquiring ingrown toenails, which can be quite painful and prevent you from dancing, for a time. Be sure to use clippers rather than scissors in order to get the straightest, cleanest cut possible, allowing only a sliver of white to show.
Skip the Fancy Pedicure
For dancers, healthy feet are far more important than pretty ones. Wearing nail polish on your toenails could keep you from being able to see what’s under the nail such as bruising or ingrown toenails. Toenail polish could be used for a special event, but it then needs to be removed before your next dance class.
Care for Your Calluses
Believe it or not, calluses are your friends; they serve to lessen pain while also protecting you from abrasions or blisters. So you don’t want to file them off or cut them open. At the same time, they can become extremely thick and cause pain as a result, so you do want to keep them trimmed. You should not soak calloused feet, but you should treat them with a pumice stone; be sure to select one that doesn’t irritate your feet and rub gently so you don’t cause a callus to break open.
Be Concerned About Corns
Ballet dancers often develop corns, especially between their toes. If you haven’t yet experienced these pesky things, you probably will. If corns are causing you problems, you may want to seek expert fitting for your pointe shoes and visit a podiatrist. To avoid corns, be sure to always wear tights with your ballet shoes (and socks with street shoes) and take care to avoid wearing pointe shoes that are too tight.
Baby Those Big Toes
Particularly if you wear pointe shoes, you need to provide extra protection for your big toes; otherwise, you may experience bruised toenails. If you do bruise a toenail, it will probably turn black and blue and may actually fall off. If you do lose a toenail, it will likely impede your dancing.