Feet, feet, feet, feet….what do you do with a pair of feet?

This weeks blog post is from the physiotherapy team with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, focusing on the importance of taking care of an essential tool for dance – our feet!    Dancers of all ages and teachers should consider the following when searching for just the right fit.  The search may be lengthy, but the health of your feet is worth it in the end.

 

 

Foot care:

As a dancer your feet are your most important “tool”.  Proper foot care is vital to avoid injuries and painful feet so that you have an enjoyable dance experience.  And while there is no way to completely avoid irritation or injury, there are a number of things that you can do to minimize the risk.

1)      Dance shoes-

  • Make sure your shoes fit properly, no matter what type they are. Remember too, that your feet continue to grow even when the rest of our bodies stop growing so the size of shoes you wear at age 16 may not fit at age 20. Tip: If the material at the back of your pointe shoe extends more than an inch beyond the end of the shank of your shoe, your pointe shoe is probably too small.
  • Make sure the shoe is still in good condition and not worn out, torn or over stretched.
  • Let your shoes dry out well after use rather than just stuffing them in your dance bag until you use them again.  This helps cut down on odor and reduces bacterial and fungal growth.

2)     Skin-

  • Look for areas of redness on your feet that may indicate areas of excessive pressure or friction that could later lead to blisters or painful joints.  This may indicate an improperly fitting shoe, a worn out shoe or poor technique.
  • Do not break open a closed blister.  Protect it with a doughnut pad and tape.  If the blister does break, use an antiseptic to clean it and cover with a bandaide until healed.
  • Wash and dry your feet well after you dance to protect your skin from infection.  Your feet perspire a great deal in a dance shoe and this warm moist environment is a good one for bacteria and fungi to grow.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed short (close to the quick in the centre) and straight across to the nail edges. Nails cut short at the edges can lead to ingrown toenails. Maintain a consistent thickness to your toenails by using an emery board or nail file.

3)     Technique and alignment-

  • Good technique and body alignment helps to reduce the stress on your feet.  Do not force your turnout or over grip with your toes.  This places a lot of shear stress on your joints and on your skin and can lead to painful joints, blisters and ankle pain.
  • While stretching and flexibility are important in dance, strengthening your foot and ankle muscles is important too.  These muscles help to absorb the forces and loads you are putting through your feet when you dance.

4)     Outside of the studio-

  • Wear good shoes or runners when not in the studio.  A mechanic always puts his tools away in his secure tool box.  Your feet, like the mechanics tools, need to be protected and supported well when you are not dancing.  Avoid long walks or prolonged standing in non supportive shoes like flip-flops, sandals, or slippers.

Following these few suggestions may help keep your feet happy and healthy through your dance season.  Should a problem arise, however, you should promptly seek the advice of your healthcare professional to get it sorted it out early.  In this way, you will avoid a more serious problem that will keep you out of dancing.

Authors:  Kevin Dyck/Janine Didyk/Sam Steinfeld

Continue reading “Feet, feet, feet, feet….what do you do with a pair of feet?”

Empowering Progress

 

 

Now that we are all fully into our new schedules for the year, getting used to new classes, students, and teachers,  its time to think about those goals again.  Goal setting can be an effective tool for building habits of excellence in our dance training and teaching, instilling positive habits which will foster the achievement of our goals and ultimate success in dance, and life!

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.  (Aristotle)

In our last newsletter Aman discussed the importance of goal setting and the differences between short term and long term goals.     He discussed several different types of goals including:

  • Dream Goals
  • Realistic Goals
  • Goals of Self-Acceptance
  • State-of- Mind Goals
  • Focus Goals
  • Daily Goals

Each of these are functional and can be incorporated into your/your childs training, and your teaching.   There are some general guidelines to follow when goal setting, you may have heard of them before – SMART goals.

S is for Specific

  • Be specific and clear about what you want to accomplish.

M is for Measurable

  • Form your goals in measurable ways, this will help to give you an objective perception of whether or not you have accomplished your goal.

A is for Action Oriented

  • What actions are required of you to achieve this goal?   What can you do to work towards your goal?  Do you need to enlist the help of  a friend/parent/teacher?

R is for Realistic

  • Set goals that are realistic for you, at this point in time in your training and life.  If its too easy – you may not have the motivation to reach it as you will achieve the goal to quickly.  If its too hard – you may lose confidence in your abilities as it will take longer and require more effort to achieve the goal.

T is for Timely

  • Set a specific timeline for the goal to be accomplished.   You may feel that some goals need to be accomplished in 1 or 2 months, and some perhaps 6 or 9 months.
  • Short term goals are helpful as they can keep you motivated AND be the stepping stones to achieving your long term goals.

 

Students and Parents:

Working together to form a set of goals for the dance season can be a great way to guide your dance student through the dance year, as well as a way to touch base with them regarding how they see their role within the dance community.  Perhaps this year they are focused on a specific exam or performance, or maybe their focus has changed to the pursuit of a career in dance.   We encourage you to take an active role in your child’s goal setting process and achievement in dance.

Teachers:

Goal setting in the studio can be a useful tool for both you and your students.  Goals can be written down and reviewed from time to time throughout the year providing students with a more tangible way to assess their progress. Students can often have an all or nothing attitude about goals,  with your guidance students can come to understand that striving for goals is a process – just like developing our strength, flexibility, and technique.  Process takes time, and patience.

If Aristotle was correct in declaring excellence as a habit, then exploring the process of goal setting with your child/your students is a positive step towards building (training)  positive habits which empower the student dancer to take an active role in their progress in the studio, on the stage, and in life.

Now its your turn…

Students: Do you set goals for yourself during the dance season?  For school?  What has worked for you?

Teachers: Do you set goals with your students?  For yourself?  What has worked for you?

 

Author:  Jacqui Davidson

Note:  This post has been entered in the Dance Advantage Circle Time!