Monday, 13 October 2014 08:05

Dancer Health: Facts from your Feet

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Self-care comes into play once we are aware that we need it! Usually this comes from an injury or pain, or maybe a great instructor or director gives you a heads up about how to become a better you. Being detective-like and curious about health and wellness can lead you to some great discoveries.

Have you looked down in awhile? Your feet can be like the “Check Engine” light going on in your car. Do you know the signs?

Excessive Floor Burn and Bruises:
This can indicate too much force or tension. Try using the breath to phrase the choreography or combination, inhaling and exhaling with key movements. The act of breath exhalation contracts core musculature for greater support. Which leads me to ask, are you supporting your center of movement or are you throwing yourself into the floor? You may need more strengthening and control of your body to synchronize and coordinate your body. Breath support helps this too. Also consider softening into the floor and connect with those points of contact, intentionally and in a connected way.

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Scrunching Toes:
Look down during center. Are your toes flat against the ground or are they scrunched up as though they were grasping the floor for dear life?! This can be a secondary reaction to concentrating really hard on other things that the feet get left behind. This can also be a sign of needing grounding through the leg. One way to do that is to release the excess tension in the feet and shins and calves, and release the weight into the floor. This can also be a sign of weak stabilizing muscles and connectivity through the legs from the pelvis. Conscious movement with attention to the feet can help with alignment and releasing tension patterns. Break down your typical movement, go slow and steady, and problem solve and feel into how to support each movement more fully.

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Take a look at your pointed foot. Are the toes long or scrunching to finish the line of the arch. This is putting undo tension in the bottoms of the feet, calves, and may actually prevent full extension of the knee, proper landing and foot articulation, depth of plie, and on. Again, isolated movement and stretching can help this. Think of the feet as three sections: ankle, arch and toes. Break down your pointing and flexing the sections individually 0 first ankle, then arch, then toes. Then toes, arches and ankles. Pointing and flexing through the feet will allow you to catch your toes before they crunch up. Think about elongating the toes and reaching far away from your heels with them. Visualize your toes laying flat over a ledge. You will strengthen your feet, enhance your point, and heal your feet.

Instep or Arch is Flat:
If the inside of your foot is quite low or flat to the floor, this indicates an imbalance that can affect your whole body. You may have trouble with planter fasciitis, foot pain, ankle sprains, bunions, shin splints or knee pain. A “fallen arch” means the weight is falling toward the inside of your foot, and likely there is excessive outer rotation in excess at the ankle, knee, and/or hips. This can create rotation or imbalance in the pelvis, back, neck, and jaw over time. Make sure to wear supportive shoes (no flip flops or slide on shoes). Find a practitioner who can help you stretch and strengthen the appropriate muscles, and bring balance to your joints and soft tissues (You happen to know one if you are reading this article!)

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Itchy and Scaly Feet:
Do you have an itchy rash between your toes, or are the bottoms of your feet red, scaly, flaky and dry? You may very well have a fungal infection known as Athlete’s Foot, which is a very common issue for dancers who typically contract it from the dance studio floor. If you have severe athlete's foot that causes your skin to become cracked, it may lead to the raw tissue underneath being exposed. As well as being very painful and debilitating, it increases your risk of developing a bacterial infection.

It is completely curable and needs some topical ointment to be eliminated. It helps to also make sure your socks and shoes are dry and clean before wearing. Disinfect your floors and bathtub/shower as well. Treat it sooner than later!


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There are many other interesting signs you may be seeing. Feel free to write me with any questions, and we can sleuth together! newpathwellness@gmail.com

Happy dancing!

Read 4639 times Last modified on Monday, 13 October 2014 16:59
Kate Fox Colie

Kate Fox Colie, CMT, CLMA is endlessly passionate about movement and the body. Kate has been a licensed and certified massage therapist (CMT) since 2001, training extensively in therapeutic and rehabilitative bodywork modalities throughout her career. Her intrigue for musculoskeletal anatomy and kinesiology provides valuable information to not only her private clientele, but to the many performing and visual artist students she has taught in her anatomy courses as faculty at California Institute of the Arts (2005-2009) and California State Summer School for the Arts (2006-2008). Kate earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance performance, production, and choreography from CalArts in 2005 and went on to receive her graduate level credential in somatic movement therapy in 2008 as a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). In early 2015, Kate completed an extensive certification in the Symmetry for Health system, which utilizes objective body measurements and corrective exercises to realign posture and remedy chronic patterns and pain.

Kate specializes in the treatment of performing artists, which dominates much of her time in both her private practice, NewPath Wellness in Glendale, and on-site therapy work with the elite student musicians and dancers at The Colburn School in downtown Los Angeles. This field work deeply informs the content of her guest teaching workshops with presentations most recently at The Colburn Conservatory of Music, Music Academy of the West, OriginPop, Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance at CalArts, Primrose International Viola Competition and Festival, and Pasadena Dance Theatre.

Kate’s dynamic 20 year dance career as a performer, producer, and manager continue with her roles as board member of Vox Dance Theatre, advisory panelist for Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD), and as dance editor for NoHoArtsDistrict.com, where she writes regular features on community events and dancer health and wellness. She is a proud member of the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA), Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP), Dance Resource Center (DRC), California Massage Therapy Council (CMTC), and Glendale Chamber of Commerce, and attends their conferences and professional gatherings annually.

For more information and to contact Kate directly, visit www.NewPathWellness.com

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