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The physical demands placed on a dancer’s foot are just “whacked”! It is crazy to think about the hours they are on their feet, the different types of shoes they wear, and, oh by the way, in case you did not notice, their feet change all the time…
While we can not directly affect what happens during dance to their feet (except to make sure the shoes our kids wear fit properly), we can make sure good things are happening to their feet before and after dance.
- Avoid extended periods of flip flops (since it is getting colder, we should be ok here) and some boots such as Uggs, as there is zero arch or ankle support. (however with an orthotic, they can be worn longer.
- Dance shoes are for dance and should not be worn for other activities.
- After dance, a commonly practiced prevention tip is to “ice roll” your feet. This is good for anyone who is on the feet for an extended period of time. Take a small water bottle and freeze it. At the end of the dance day 1-2 minutes of slowly rolling it under each foot (repeat at least 2 times) can help loosen the plantar fascia and reduce swelling / inflammation that accumulates throughout the day.
- Foot and ankle “supports” should be limited and monitored. What you do not use, you will loose so instead of supporting something all the time, find out how to make it stronger.
Practice good foot hygiene! Do not work around the studio without something on your feet. Wash them well at the end of each day. Spray your shoes periodically with disinfectant to limit your exposure to things that can cause athletes foot and plantar warts.
These couple of tips will help now and for years to come. If you do experience any type of foot condition that does not resolve with home care, contact a knowledgeable health professional that is familiar with dance.
Written by dance dad Dr. Alan K. Sokoloff