The average person’s foot absorbs about 1,000 pounds of force every day. When landing a jump, the force is over 4 times the dancer’s body weight. Both feet together contain about one forth of the number of bones in the body. Additionally, dancers constrain their feet into tiny shoes and absolutely must treat the feet properly to ensure their continued use.
Here are some simple, home remedies to minimize foot pain and soreness.
When not wearing dance shoes, try to utilize comfortable and supportive footwear with a thick or shock-absorbing sole. Unfortunately, this does not describe flip-flops.
If you have naturally low arches like me, try adding arch support inserts to a couple pairs of your other shoes.
Make sure you’re stretching the feet before and after dancing; at the very least, roll your foot from flexed to pointed several times slowly with the ankle and toe joints engaged.
The exercise of picking up and releasing marbles/pencils with just the toes can also strengthen the arch and reduce the soreness related to wearing tight sole-less shoes.
Heel pain usually indicates soreness in the Achilles tendon, which can be minimized with wall stretches: arms on the wall for balance, the front leg will be forward and bent, the back leg straight with the heel on the floor (hold for 10 seconds, switch legs, and repeat 3 times).
Massage your feet either manually or by rolling the foot around a tennis or golf ball. Other foot massagers like this are specially made for dancers and athletes.
Make sure you are regularly clipping your toenails to a moderately short length (minimal white area) so they do not rub against the shoes. Also make sure you’re trimming several hours before dancing, as a short cut will expose a new skin area and possibly bruise.
To alleviate soreness, try a water soak alternating cold and hot water. Start with the feet in hot water for 3 minutes, then cold for 1 minute. You can repeat the process up to 3 times to maximize the benefits.
A warm water bath with Epsom salt or vinegar for 20 minutes will help to reduce inflammation. Likewise, an ice pack applied for 10 minutes will numb some pain/soreness and reduce swelling.
Clove oil can be used to relieve joint pain, relaxes the muscles, and boosts circulation. Massage your feet with clove oil 3-5 times per day to get the maximum benefits.
Other natural oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary oil can be helpful for reducing pain and foot odors when added to a warm water bath.
Photo credit: Flickr user Ken Wilcox
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