Magazine article Dance Magazine

Bad Step: Your Street Shoe Choices Make a Difference to Your Foot Health in the Studio

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Bad Step: Your Street Shoe Choices Make a Difference to Your Foot Health in the Studio

Article excerpt

Dancers are shoe hounds. From flip-flops to Christian Louboutin heels, they can be spotted sporting the latest fashion footwear between class and rehearsals. But your foot and ankle health in the studio have a lot to do with your street footwear. Can certain styles actually lead to injury? What are the best and worst choices for your non-dance hours?

FLIP-FLOP FLOPS Though they are cheap and convenient to wear, flip-flops offer little support. To keep them on your feet, your toes need to do a lot of gripping. An Auburn University study found links between the sandals and problems like plantar fasciitis and tendonitis. "Gripping tires the tendons," says Nancy Kadel, MD, a staff surgeon at Group Health, Seattle, and chair of the Dance/USA Task Force on Dancer Health.

Not only do flip-flops provide little support, they may exaggerate any tendency to pronate. "My real concern is the slippage issue," says Stacy Barrows, PT, at Century City Physical Therapy in Los Angeles. "Dancers can be more prone to injury since they are inclined to walk in a different foot pattern that can diminish an easy balance in a flat foot." This doesn't mean you have to get rid of your flip-flops. "it's nice to air your feet out for a short walk home," says Kadel. (Another option are FitFIops, a denser-soled, more shock-absorbent alternative that claim to offer better support for your feet.)

Wearing high heels is like being in releve all the time. Put them on the way you eat dessert--just now and then.

HIGH HEELS HURDLES Who doesn't want to wear a fancy pair of heels for a postshow reception or gala? While a few hours in high style won't hurt, heels aren't a wise regular choice. "It's like being in releve all the time, but without a demi plie," says Kadel. "This can cause tight calves and Achilles. Wear heels the way you eat dessert--just now and then. …

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