Blisters, cuts, scrapes, calluses, ingrown toenails, and stress fractures are all potential problems ballet dancers face every time they slip on their ballet slippers. When people think of ballerinas, they are often thought of to be elegant and graceful dancers that have the power to make ballet seem so effortless. While this is absolutely accurate, most people do not realize how much discomfort ballet dancers endure for the love of their dance. As a parent of a young ballerina, your child looks up to you for comfort and support when they’re in pain, hoping you can resolve the problem. Miss Colleen’s Elite Dancentre has been teaching ballet to dancers in Rockville for many years and our Elite instructors have suffered similar injuries caused by their ballet shoes. If your dancer has started to complain of their feet beginning to hurt, read on to learn a few ideas on prevention and how to treat common ballet shoe injuries.
Parents, the best way to avoid injury and discomfort is to be proactive in preventing it from happening at all. Here are some tips you can teach your child to get in the habit of now:
- Trim your toenails regularly. Avoid trimming them the night before class, or the morning of. The skin under the toenails is soft, and when body weight is applied directly on the toes, it hurts!
- If you forget to trim your nails, don’t immediately grab the clippers once you remember. Opt for a nail file, instead. As you begin to notice growth to your toenails, just file them down enough for it to be comfortable.
- Taping toes is a very common technique to preventing injuries as it acts like a barrier between the skin and the shoe. There are two common types of tape that ballet dancers use, based on preference and use.
- Foam tape is a great solution for when toenails are freshly trimmed, and when toes are rubbing against the inside of the shoe causing discomfort. In the event that a blister or scab develops, simply wrap the affected toe to keep it protected.
- Athletic tape is helpful to keep the drawstrings inside of the shoe, preventing them from popping out. New ballet shoes tend to cause pain at the Achilles heel, and athletic tape applied to the area is a quick solution to relieve the pain.
- Lambs wool is a dated, yet a highly effective solution to add a little comfort inside ballet shoes. It does require a little work to get it just right, so this may not be the best option for little ones. For more experienced ballet dancers, you will start off by taping your toes (see above) and then use just the toes of soft and thick socks. Slip the toe portion of the sock on and place a chunk of the wool over your toes, inside of the sock. This should provide just enough cushion and padding for your feet, without it being over-stuffed.
- Toe injuries are highly common for ballet dancers. What happens if you get a blister or rip? Just as you would for any injury, the first thing you’ll do is clean the wound, and clean it well. An infected blister is twice as painful. Once the blister (or rip) has been cleaned, pat it dry with a soft cloth and apply some antibiotic cream. Afterwards, remember to protect it with a band-aid or athletic tape.
- Ingrown toenails are not fun, especially for dancers that apply their entire body weight onto their toes. The only way to prevent ingrown toenails is to keep up on the trimming and do your best to trim them in a way so that the edges don’t grow into the skin. If you fear that your young dancer might have an ingrown nail, contact your physician to be sure it is something you should safely remove on your own.
- Stress fractures are one of those injuries that people try to wait out. Our advice? Don’t wait. The pointe shoes need to be hung up for a little bit, while you apply ice and contact a physician. They might be able to prescribe a bone stimulant that could help recovery. But every case is different, so it’s best to see a doctor if a stress fracture is in question.
Ballet is a beautiful dance that requires patience and dedication. Like any other sport out there, ballet presents minor injuries that can be avoided simply by being proactive. At Miss Colleen’s Elite Dancentre, your children are under the best dance instruction in Rockville, and our instructors will help our young dancers overcome all of their obstacles.
To sign up for ballet classes, visit our site or come by our dance studio to register.