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.
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.
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!)
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!
There are many other interesting signs you may be seeing. Feel free to write me with any questions, and we can sleuth together! firstname.lastname@example.org