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Healthy Dancer

Best Foot Forward

Exercises for Preventing Common Foot Maladies By Blessyl Buan
  • Alayna Kellett / Photo courtesy of Kellett

In the November/December 2017 issue of The Dance Current Dr. Blessyl Buan offers an article about prevent foot injury and pain – “Put Your Best Foot Forward.” The following are her accompanying tips for dancers.

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Articulate through demi-pointe by standing in parallel and slowly pressing one foot to demi-pointe, making sure to track through the centre of the foot and not put too much weight toward the big or baby toe. Slowly press the toes into the floor until the foot is pointed. You can also think about doming as you do this. Reverse this exercise by going through the foot back down to demi-pointe with resistance and back to flat. This helps prepare the foot for the action of jumping later in the class.

Doming exercises are great for “waking up” and strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot. This can be executed by sitting with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Feeling as if a string is attached to the middle toe metatarsal knuckle, lift it away from the floor and feel it slide it closer to your heel. Hold this position for five seconds and then release. The toes should stay lengthened throughout.

Wear proper fitting shoes. Go to a specialized dance store to get fitted for the specific dance shoe. There are many styles and brands of dance shoes that are designed for a specific foot. Not all dance shoes are made the same. Depending on the needs of the dancer (for example, high arches, heavy feet, etc.), the shoe needs to suit. A proper fitting shoe will also reduce the chances of developing blisters and joint pain.

It’s all in your dance bag. Caring for your feet is easy and portable. Pack a small ball to release your sore muscles, wear socks pre-class to keep the feet warm and bring a flexband to strengthen the arch of your feet pre- and post-class.

Seek professional help. If the pain lasts longer than what you can manage, it is always advisable to see your trusted health professional.

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