The cherry on top of a perfect line is quite simple: a pointed foot. When it comes to dancing, feet serve as a major base of support. Feet truly take on various roles on the dance floor: creating spring in a jump, finding articulation to establish stability and encourage muscle activation and, of course, moving your body from one side of the room to the other.
Proper foot care is critical for career longevity. Because your feet are at the base of your body, deviations can work their way up the kinetic chain if you’re using this base incorrectly. There are two major foot deviations that occur at the feet:
- Pronation: Weight on the foot falls towards the midline, putting pressure on the ankle and causing arches to fall inward + calf tension. This puts you at risk for bunions and plantar fasciitis.
- Supination: Weight of the foot falls away from the midline — think of your feet falling outwards. This can put you at risk for ankle sprains and even problems in the legs, hips and back.
Here are some tips for proper foot care that will keep you healthy and dancing:
- Roll your feet out. Imagine the benefits of foam rolling, but for your feet! You can use a tennis ballet or smaller bouncy balls to get deep in the fasciae to release tension. Keep charlie horses at bay with the same myofascial release techniques you use on larger muscle groups. Place your foot on the ball, find an area of muscle tightness and sit on that area for 15-30 seconds until muscle releases. Repeat on other problem areas.
- Stretch + strengthen your feet. Keep a theraband in your dance bag for some foot articulation and ankle work. Place the band around your toes and hold tension, stretching the band close to your body. Roll through your foot 8-10 times, from a pointed to flexed position. On the last rep, hold your foot in a flexed position and strengthen your toes by splaying + tightening them within the band.
- Wear supportive shoes outside of class. Flip flops may be stylish in the summer and those cute boots may make winter fashionable, but there is nothing CUTE about a foot injury. It’s important to keep your feet comfortable outside of dancing, especially if you are standing on your feet a majority of the day. Be mindful of your footwear. This is the perfect opportunity to invest in a great pair of sneaks.
- Epsom salt + ice baths all around! After a long day of dancing, treat yo’ feet. Epsom salt is easy to find at a pharmacy or drug store and comes in huge bags. Pour a cup of epsom salt in a bucket of hot water and soak your biscuits to cure inflammation and sore toes. Ice baths are a great option, too — if you can handle it, that is!