The feet are the most important part of the body for the Dancer. You can spend whatever you want on your outfit but unless you have the right shoes, you may have problems when dancing.

While I am writing an extensive series on how to prevent injury and give you information on parts of your feet and lower body area, which you can build into a library, here are some day-to-day suggestions to make your dancing life a happy one. Always see a doctor when you have pain.

The toes:

Do not knuckle your toes under to ‘pop’ them. Like cracking, your knuckles of the hand this will dry out the joints and open you up for arthritis. Cut your nails straight across the nail and do not curve inwards as this may cause ingrown toenails. Never pick your nails and always use a toenail clipper, bigger than a nail clipper, or get someone to cut across with sharp scissors. Buff the edges lightly to take and sharpness off the nail.

Wash in between your toes always, as this is an area that can build heat and cause fungal growth such as athlete’s foot. If you get this condition, use a cream or spray after washing and wash and apply two or three times a day. Also, spray inside your shoes, outdoor, slippers and dancing shoes.

Watch for any redness on the toe joints and report this immediately to your parents and arrange to see a podiatrist or foot specialist in case it is the start of a problem.

Try to wear socks without seams as these can rub on your toes, cause friction and give blisters.

Massage your toes before and after dancing to release any tension. Use a light massage oil or baby lotion. Only a little. If you can’t do it yourself, get someone to gently press their hands around one foot near the ankle and press slightly while pulling their hands towards your toes. Gently press with the thumb into the metatarsal area, the ball of the foot, and massage for a minute or two. Massage each toe at each joint. Remove any excess oil, there should not be any if you use the right amount, and try to relax the muscles in your feet.

The mid section:

The arch is a very important part of your foot. Do not tie your laces tight around your arch, as it will cause damage to your arch. I designed a new way to tie your laces to stop pressure on the arch and the Achilles tendon, so please try to use that method.

Damage on the top of the foot caused by lacing is also serious as it is a tender area. Muscle, blood vessels and tendon damage can occur here. Massage this area after every class to release the tension. Concentrate on your muscles in the foot and relax them. This will also require you to relax the leg muscles as well incidentally.

The Heel:

Plantar injuries may occur from a number of reasons. Use a pad to relieve pressure on Plantar Fasciitis, and other pain. Watch for soreness under the heel, on the heel bone at the back and on the tendon that comes out of the bone up into the leg.

Do not tie around the heel area where it can press into the Achilles tendon. This will inflame the tendon and put it at risk.

General care.

Always warm up before a class and also concentrate some of that warm up on the feet and ankles. Cool down after class, very important, as this is when damage can also occur. Warm up before and during competitions if you are waiting about. Very important. Always cool down after dancing. This is much the same as a warm up as it loosens the muscles and joints. Your teacher will advise you. I cannot emphasise how important this really is to all dancers.