Ottawa Dancers’ Blogletter – 2018/04/11

Feet, the dancers’ foundation.

Tonight I was prepping for my Thursday night Bollywood class by listening to my songs and watching YouTube videos for inspiration and practice, when near the end of my practice my left big toe felt like it got a sliver.  What the heck did I step on in my living room, when the floor had just been swept earlier in the evening?  I looked at my toe and felt it with my finger but it didn’t feel like there was a sliver.  I have a dry patch of skin for dancing barefoot that I scratched and scratched until it felt a little better.  This led me to be inspired for today’s topic.  Feet are the foundation for which most of us are lucky to walk, run and dance on.  Feet are often ignore except for the regular washing, when we wash the rest of our body or decide to trim and/or decorate our toe nails or when something alerts our brain that our feet need some attention.

Tonight, my feet decided to remind me that I need to take care of them and so I thought I’d share some ideas for what you can do to take care of your feet.

  1. Keep your toe nails trimmed and filed – It’s nice to pamper yourself with a pedicure from time to time, but nails can grow fast, break and your own schedule and budget, may not allow you to get a pedicure every week or so.  However, getting a good set of clippers and emery board can do wonders to keep your toe nail trimmed to help prevent hangnails occurring.  If you do have a hangnail you can’t take care of yourself easily, take the time to go to a pedicurist to look at it.  Problematic hang nails can potentially get infected if not taken care of properly and then you may require a visit a podiatrist; been there and it wasn’t fun to have an infected toe nail.
  2. Nail polish is pretty but sometimes it’s good to let your toe nails breathe.  Nail polish has chemicals that can dry out your nails and eventually they may discolour, or become weakened with long use of nail polish.  Also, nail polish removers can also have a similar affect of weakening the nail but often are the main concern for drying out the nails.  After removing nail polish, using a moisturizer like almond oil, olive oil and/or grape seed oil can provide some vitamins back into the nail.
  3. Foot baths with epsom salts are great for tired feet.  – After dancing for long periods of time, be it barefoot or in shoes, giving your feet a soak in a tub full of warm water with epsom salts if a great way to help take care of your feet.  I recommend getting epson salt that actually has “magnesium sulphate” as part of the ingredients as this mineral is what muscle soak up to relieve the strain of exercise.  Using a stainless steel bowl, is great because it’s easy to clean and will not absorb odours or bacteria.  A foot bath with jets and vibrations are okay if you know the people who use it (if you share one) and there is not foot fungi active; it’s more difficult to clean the vibrating foot baths than a large bowl.
  4. Pumice stones and foot files – Yes a dancer will build of calluses but pumice stones and/or foot files are great to help even and/or take care of rough skin that should be removed.  If you require a little heavier callus remover, get a pedicure for this is a great idea; they have an less contorted position to work with your feet.
  5. Stretching and towel grabbing are important.  – Depending on the dance and the dancer’s preference, you may or may not be wearing shoes when you dance.  Regardless of what style, to help keep the feet strong, especially the arches, it’s important to stretch them.  Flexing and point your feet are great for the legs but they are great for the feet too.  Pretending or actually grabbing a towel with your toes will also help keep your arches strong and minimize the chances of developing flat foot or plantar fasciitis.  If you already have plantar fasciitis stretching and towel grabbing can help relieve some of the ache and the espom salt foot bath is good to.  If you have severe plantar fasciitis, physiotherapy maybe worth checking into.  I have had plantar fasciitis and the combination of physiotherapy, stretching, and epsom salt baths (or creams) has relieved the symptoms to little to nil now.
  6. Foot wear – Outside of class we’re always wearing shoes to go some where and in class well, sometimes yes we have shoes and sometimes no.  Whatever type of shoe you decide to wear, they should fit properly and support you where you need it.  Talk to the salesperson to discuss your needs in a shoe so you can make an informed choice.  I personally don’t like shopping for shoes so I will just let the salesperson know what my needs are and they often will come up with a pair or to for me to try.
  7. Foot massage vs Reflexology – Foot massages are wonderful and are often provided when you go for a pedicure.  However, you can just go for a foot massage that focuses on pressure points lightly, or if you want more pressure reflexology may be what you’re looking for.  I personally did a reflexology session (1 hour at Daya Spa in the market) to help treat my plantar fasciitis I was having.  Reflexology is an alternative therapy that links pressure points to the feet with internal organs but it can be a good approach to loosen up really tight feet muscles and/or tell plantar fasciitis to “politely” vacate your feet.  Before jumping into having a reflexology session, do some reading and see if you believe it would be beneficial for you. Rolling your foot over a tennis ball, with varying pressure is an every day massage you can do for your self.  Foot massages, I believe, are beneficial as they are an easy and quick way to pamper your feet.  So go love your feet!
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