• Tap Happy: Foot Care Tips for Tap Dancers

    by Dr. LaMour
    on Apr 1st, 2015

Tap dancing is unique among other forms of dance, as tap dancers’ feet do double-duty during every performance – supporting their bodies as they execute graceful and powerful movements, and acting as a percussive instrument. The pounding, tapping, clicking and shuffling movements that are typical of tap use the entire foot from toe to heel, so it’s no surprise that tap dancers’ feet often develop painful foot problems or suffer from injuries.

Here are some of the more common foot and toe problems that tap dancers experience, along with some injury prevention tips that both newbies and veterans of tap can benefit from.

Blisters

Tap dancers often develop blisters that are typically caused by a combination of friction, moisture, and ill-fitting shoes. Blisters are most likely to occur on the heels, the tips of toes, the balls of the feet, and even between the toes. Properly fitted shoes and moisture-wicking socks are the best prevention methods for blisters. Wearing specialized sports tape around blister-prone areas can also help. Cold water foot soaks can help relieve the pain that often comes along with blisters, and may help speed healing time.

Tendonitis

Inflammation in the tendons of the foot and ankle is a common injury caused by overuse. Dancers who are new to tap or are increasing their intensity or frequency are often susceptible to tendonitis because their muscles aren’t strong enough to prevent stress to the tendons. Prevention techniques include stretching before and after dance sessions, performing strengthening routines for foot muscles, and avoiding significant and sudden increases in performance or practice loads. Tap dancers should also ask instructors or more experienced dancers for tips on maintaining good technical form, as improper technique can also be a cause of tendonitis.

Ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails – a condition where the nail of the toe grows into the soft tissue surrounding it – are usually caused by shoes that are too-tight and press against the toe, shoes that are too-loose and allow the foot to slip and slide within the shoe, or toenails that are too long. Ingrown toenails are most commonly seen on the big toes, and cause dancers to experience tenderness and discomfort in the affected area, along with redness and swelling. Keeping toenails trimmed to a shorter length, and wearing properly-fitting shoes can help prevent ingrown toenails from occurring.

Ankle and Toe Fractures

Tappers are especially susceptible to small breaks in the bones of the foot, since the pounding movements of tap are performed in shoes that don’t absorb shock well. The muscles and bones of the foot absorb all of the percussive pressure, and, over time, this can lead to stress fractures. While there’s no surefire way to completely prevent these fractures, recognizing them early on can help lessen their severity. An X-ray or MRI may be needed to diagnose the injury, and dancers may need to take a break from tap to allow their bones to heal before taking to the stage again.

Whether you’re new to tap or a long-time tap dancer, regular foot checkups are an essential part of your foot care routine. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment!

Original source: http://www.drjefflamour.com/sports-injuries/tap-happy-foot-care-tips-tap-dancers/

Author Dr. LaMour

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