Joan Oberndorf | March 11th, 2013 | Posted in How To, News, Wellness

Be kind to your feet and they will treat you well.

diagram of the bones of the foot

FFF (fun foot fact) #1: there are 26 bones in the foot

Work Those Feet

A strong foot is a happy foot-and less prone to injury.  Ergo, happy feet make happy (and less injured) dancers.  Unfortunately, I often find that dancers don’t really know how to accomplish this-habits develop, feet sickle, and…no need to finish this sentence.   It’s time to give our feet the care and consideration they deserve-easily done with a little time and knowledge.

ballerina feet from Marie Clire magazine, photo by Robert Maxwell.

FFF #2: There are 33 joints, 107 ligaments and 19 muscles in the foot. Photo by Robert Maxwell.

 

Sans Sickle

The most common foot issue that I see in class is a “sickled” foot-this can be due to a lack of technique or training, but I also sometimes think of it as an “overachiever” problem, where people point their foot so hard that it goes past good alignment.  This can be avoided by focusing on working the arch at the top of the foot, and keeping the inner ankle bone forward; this helps keep your heel from dropping back and makes it impossible to sickle the foot.  Doing some slooow tendus outside of class can help reinforce your muscle memory and allow you to work properly at a regular class tempo.  Ditto for rising into releve-working at regular class tempo I often see dancers move through almost a “wave” pattern with their foot, where the heel will drop back and then rotate forward at the top of the releve.  To help remedy this try the following: Do a slow, slow rise where you carefully and mindfully go up to 1/2 point and (equally slowly and carefully) roll back down to a flat foot.  Start with repetitions of this on two feet, then work up to trying the same thing one foot at a time to reinforce good muscle memory and build strong feet.

Foot Relief
ice cubes

ice is nice

After all this hard work your feet deserve a little TLC.  Give them a quick, down and dirty refresher with a contrast flush-not for the faint of heart, but it really works.

Place a bucket (I’ve also used a plastic or metal wastebasket, fine as long as it’s watertight) in your bathtub and dump a bunch of ice cubes into it (the bucket)-the more ice the better (really) and fill

hot water

hot is too

with cold water.  Next, get some nice hot water running in the tub (as hot as you can tolerate (but not so hot that you’ll burn yourself) and keep it running.  Alternate putting your feet (or do one foot at a time) into the ice bath, and then under the running water.  Try to keep your feet immersed in the ice bath for 30-45 seconds (harder than it sounds), and in the hot for 1-2 minutes.  Alternate hot/cold 3 times, starting and ending with the cold.  Your feet will love it!