Printer Friendly

Feet Faux Pas: The 7 habits that make dance podiatrists cringe.

It's tempting to seek shortcuts when caring for your feet or making them look good. Bad ideas catch on all too easily backstage, like dangerous stretches that promise perfect lines or ointments that were never meant to go on your toes. Podiatrists who've seen their dance clients try it all share the habits they'd like to see gone for good.


Numbing agents like lidocaine or benzocaine--the active ingredient in Orajel--should never be applied to corns or blisters. These products can lead to serious skin infections. Thomas Novella, a podiatrist in New York City, says he has sent dancers to the hospital to be treated for blood infections from infected corns masked by lidocaine. If corns become painful, see a podiatrist.


Ordering online may save time and money when replacing pointe shoes, but don't assume that if you've been fitted once you're set for life. Dancers, especially students, should get professionally refitted for pointe shoes once a year, says Frank Sinkoe, an Atlanta podiatrist who specializes in dance medicine. In particular, see a fitter if you're experiencing foot pain. Your feet may have changed.


Thick or painful calluses can be removed by a podiatrist, but otherwise leave them alone. Novella suggests skipping the salon altogether: The pedicurist may cut the sides of your nails too far back into the grooves of the nail bed or push back your cuticles, both of which can expose protected parts of the toes to infection or lead to ingrown toenails. If you do go, ask the pedicurist not to be aggressive with pushing back the cuticles or separating the skin from the nail, says Sinkoe.


Sticking feet under the piano or couch is a quick route to injury, not more beautiful arches. The gliding joints of the mid-foot, Sinkoe explains, cannot be forced to bend like the hinge joints of the toes, and bending a foot like that can damage ligaments or cause tiny bone pieces to break off. "It's muscles within the foot that, if contracted properly, will arch the foot," Sinkoe says. Keep up the Thera-Band exercises, doming and towel scrunching with straight toes to make those muscles stronger.


An infected area will be red, swollen, painful and warm, says Novella. If one of those four criteria is not met, it could be something else, like an allergic reaction. See a podiatrist to be sure. Some people are allergic to Neosporin, for example, and if you keep applying the antibiotic ointment to what you think is an infection, you'll only be making it worse.


Sewing your pointe shoe ribbons closer to your arch may exaggerate the shape of your foot. But that tailoring undermines the ribbons' ankle support, says Novella. Similarly, three-quarter-shanking pointe shoes by cutting away the heel increases strain on the mid-foot, potentially causing pain and making you more vulnerable to injury.


Sometimes a blister just has to go. If it's clear--a red blood blister should be left alone or seen by a podiatrist--you can puncture it with a sterilized needle and gently drain the fluid. But don't remove the roof, the layer of skin covering the blister. Leave that natural protective barrier on, let the drained blister air out, then dress with antibiotic ointment and bandage for class as necessary.

And One Good Habit to Add

How can you keep sweaty feet healthy? After dancing, podiatrist Frank Sinkoe suggests washing and drying your feet thoroughly, then using a drop of white vinegar between toes (avoiding any open sores) to help balance acidity and kill bacteria.
COPYRIGHT 2018 Dance Magazine, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2018 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:your body
Author:Marks, Andrea
Publication:Dance Magazine
Date:Mar 1, 2018
Previous Article:Just the Highlights.
Next Article:Margaret Cromwell: High-intensity training helps her navigate a double life as a maritime pro.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters