Tuesday, March 30, 2010

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Healthy Flats For Spring

Spring is coming and with spring comes lighter (and less supportive) footwear. As dancers, we spend a lot of time on our feet both in and out of the studio. Usually we have little control over our footwear in the studio, but out in the world, we do. Many of us are probably transitioning from boots to flats. Here are some tips from American Podiatric Medical Association for picking healthy shoes for spring:

  • The Down Side: Flats provide inadequate cushioning and support. This may result in arch or heel pain.
  • Try to avoid wearing flats for long periods of time. If you know you are going to be walking around the city all day (and carrying a heavy bag), maybe a sneaker or danskos (APMA approved!) would be a better option.
  • If you do wear your flats, try to pick a pair that have built in arch support.
  • Never buy flats that can bend in half or twist. These are too flimsy and will not provide enough support for your feet.
  • Try adding extra support or cushion. APMA recommends Spenco's Q Factor or Foot Petals' Amazing Arches
  • For more user friendly tips, see sources below! APMA has great educational material!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Icing 101

One of my most poignant memories of my ballet days is sitting around with my friends after rehearsal with our feet plunged into large buckets that contained mostly ice with water to fill in the cracks. In college, we had bags of frozen peas in the freezer. Often times I would notice my colleges icing during jumps in ballet class then dance again in modern class. Poor choice. Ice is important, it reduces inflammation to overworked bodies and helps us go on to another day of doing what we love. However, you can over do it. There is such a thing as icing too long or icing at the inappropriate time. Here are some guidelines:

How long should I ice?
  • Most sources recommend 10-15 minutes. At work, we ice patients for ten minutes and this is plenty.
  • Ice should be applied for absolutely no longer than 20 minutes. Icing longer can actually cause tissue damage or an increase in the inflammation in the area.
  • You can ice multiple times a day (provided that you are not dancing). The recommendation is around four times a day.
When should I ice?
  • NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER ice before you dance! You risk causing more damage to your injured body part.
  • The recommendation is that there needs to be at least two hours in between icing and physical activity. If you have iced earlier in the day, be sure to warm up the body part really well. Tiger Balm does not count and is not a substitute for a proper warm up.
  • Some recommend waiting until the day is over to ice (this is my preference).
How can I ice?
  • Ice pack: You can buy a gel ice pack at any pharmacy or you can ask your physical therapist if they have ice packs for sale in the clinic (these are usually the heavy duty, professional grade kind. I have two, they are marvelous). Ice in a baggie will also do the trick. Be sure to put something between your skin and the ice. At work, we use pillow cases. Other acceptable barriers might include: a towel or a t-shirt. It is not hard core to put the ice directly on your skin. You can get frost bite or an ice burn (both are painful and unsightly).
  • Ice massage: It is usually recommended that this is done no longer than ten minutes, or until the area feels numb. Simply fill a dixie cup with water, freeze it, then peel away the paper at one end. Massage the area with the ice, but be sure to keep the ice moving.
  • Ice bucket: An effective way to ice an ankle is with a bucket filled with ice water. The recommended amount of time for an ice bucket is 10 minutes. If your foot is numb before then, take it out.
But I'm dancing all day, and I really want to ice on my lunch break! What should I do?
  • Unless your break is at least three hours long, don't ice.
  • A nice alternative is laying on your back with your legs up the wall. This uses gravity to get stagnated blood out of your legs (which is what ice does, except the cold constricts the blood vessels, and pushes blood out of the tissue).
  • This is something that is seen in many restorative yoga poses, one of the benefits is listed as "refreshing for the legs and feet."

Written Sources:


First I would like to emphasize that I AM NOT A DOCTOR (yet). Any information on this blog is NOT a substitute for having your injury checked by a person with an MD.

Where does the information come from?
  • I will try my best to source any information on this blog either through a reputable medical website (ie Mayo Clinic, NIH, AAOS) or published source.
  • My Job: I have worked at a dancer-specific physical therapy for four years and have a wealth of information from this experience. I will try to back up any information from this source by a second written source.
  • Just ask. Sometimes I will just ask: a doctor, a physical therapist, an acupuncturist.... information from these sources will be indicated.
  • My (and other's) experience. It's always useful to share experience, especially when it comes to navigating the health care system.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


First, the business:

This blog is intended to be a resource for dancers. It is NOT intended to provide medical advice or diagnoses. There is no substitution for seeing a doctor.