Magazine article Dance Magazine

Feet Faux Pas: The 7 Habits That Make Dance Podiatrists Cringe

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Feet Faux Pas: The 7 Habits That Make Dance Podiatrists Cringe

Article excerpt

It's tempting to seek shortcuts when caring for your feet or making them look good. Bad ideas catch on all too easily backstage, like dangerous stretches that promise perfect lines or ointments that were never meant to go on your toes. Podiatrists who've seen their dance clients try it all share the habits they'd like to see gone for good.

USING ANESTHETICS

Numbing agents like lidocaine or benzocaine--the active ingredient in Orajel--should never be applied to corns or blisters. These products can lead to serious skin infections. Thomas Novella, a podiatrist in New York City, says he has sent dancers to the hospital to be treated for blood infections from infected corns masked by lidocaine. If corns become painful, see a podiatrist.

DEFAULTING TO THE SAME SHOE

Ordering online may save time and money when replacing pointe shoes, but don't assume that if you've been fitted once you're set for life. Dancers, especially students, should get professionally refitted for pointe shoes once a year, says Frank Sinkoe, an Atlanta podiatrist who specializes in dance medicine. In particular, see a fitter if you're experiencing foot pain. Your feet may have changed.

GETTING FOOT PEELS AND PEDICURES

Thick or painful calluses can be removed by a podiatrist, but otherwise leave them alone. Novella suggests skipping the salon altogether: The pedicurist may cut the sides of your nails too far back into the grooves of the nail bed or push back your cuticles, both of which can expose protected parts of the toes to infection or lead to ingrown toenails. If you do go, ask the pedicurist not to be aggressive with pushing back the cuticles or separating the skin from the nail, says Sinkoe.

OVERSTRETCHING

Sticking feet under the piano or couch is a quick route to injury, not more beautiful arches. The gliding joints of the mid-foot, Sinkoe explains, cannot be forced to bend like the hinge joints of the toes, and bending a foot like that can damage ligaments or cause tiny bone pieces to break off. …

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