Dancing Feet

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Learning rhythm tap dance, I find that my feet really take a pounding so I make sure I spend some time caring for them so that they’re in tip-top shape. This obviously applies to all areas of dance or sport where you are primarily on your feet.

Here are some of my foot care tips:

Use a foot roller immediately after dancing to give your feet a bit of a massage to relieve aches and prevent aching the next day. There are many different types. I like a spiky ball roller, but you can even use a golf ball if you have one handy.

Stretch your feet and toes before and after class. Resistance bands are great for this.

Soak tired feet in warm water with a good sprinkling of Epsom salts, and maybe a few drops of your favourite essential oil. I LOVE lavender oil and sweet orange oil. Peppermint, tea tree or eucalyptus are also good choices. You may want to follow up with a dip into some lukewarm water.

Hard Skin is inevitable, and you’ll want to make sure you remove some of it with a pumice stone or foot file…but not too much. If you go too baby soft with your feet, you may find you are more susceptible to blisters, especially if you dance barefoot. Being someone who is prone to eczema (thankfully eczema-free for maybe 2 years now), I have naturally parched skin, so I need to use a pumice stone quite often.

Moisturise moisturise moisturise – I say this again as someone with Sahara Desert dry skin. These days I only use natural butters and oils (e.g. shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil) which are full of essential fatty acids, because synthetic petroleum based-moisturisers tend to sit on top of the skin rather than soak into it.

Keep Toenails Trimmed so that they don’t injure your other toes when dancing or press into the ends of your shoes. Always cut straight across rather than round and file off any sharp edges. (Make sure they’re not too short but have a bit of white tip left as nails are there to protect the toes from injury). I used to paint my toenails for class when I was doing the Contemporary and Jazz Workshop at City Lit because we danced barefoot, but it’s probably better to stick to no polish or clear polish just so you can monitor the health of your nails when you’re dancing a lot. (This applies to runners too!)

Wear supportive footwear when you’re not dancing. Unfortunately, a lot of shoes aimed at women are completely flat with no arch support, which can lead to plantar fasciitis (had this!) and ankle problems, or at the other end of the spectrum you have sky high stilettos that put stress on the balls of the feet and toes and can lead to bunions and other problems. I wear a pair of Skechers slip-on trainers with arch support and extra thick soles for my commute.

Dry thoroughly between your toes after bathing. I cannot stress this enough. I tend to use a bit of talc between the toes too, just to be sure. And make sure you wash your feet and change your socks as soon as you can after your class…

Get a foot massage every now and then if you can – I recently went to my local salon for a full body aromatherapy massage because my shoulders are so tight at the moment. This included a foot massage – amazing! Just what I needed.

And if you have any foot problems – please visit a chiropodist/podiatrist!

I was half-considering retraining as a podiatrist, because I like working with people…but I don’t think I have the stomach for other people’s feet LOL

My foot care kit:

  • Nail clippers
  • Pumice stone
  • Foot file
  • Nail files
  • Plasters
  • Blister plasters
  • Peppermint foot spray
  • A good moisturiser
  • Spiky ball roller
  • Anti-fungal foot powder
  • Gel toe separators
  • Bamboo Compression socks

Anything to add? How do you keep your feet in tip-top condition? I’m sure the Ballet dancers out there will have much more in their kit! Let me know in the comments below.

**I have a confession to make. Last year, my lunchtime tap class re-started while I was still on 2 weeks’ Summer holiday, so my SO and I travelled in especially so I could go, and then we planned to go for lunch afterwards and then meet his sister for a catch up. Well, the day ended up being a lot longer than I thought it would be, and silly me, although I changed clothes at the restaurant, I didn’t end up showering until I got home after 7pm that evening, and I ended up with athletes foot. Yuk. Thankfully a course of Daktarin spray sorted it out. NEVER AGAIN**

Green Smoothie

I got home from work today and decided to whip up an energy boosting smoothie for the next couple of mornings. I’ve gone and enrolled on level 3 of rhythm tap after enjoying last week so much and emailing my teacher, so I’ll be dancing levels 2 & 3 from 6.45-8.45pm every Wednesday (with a 15 min break between), and getting home nearer 10pm for the next few weeks at least, so I definitely need something to keep me going:

My Green Smoothie

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • 2 bananas
  • Guava juice (I used Rubicon juice)
  • Squeeze of lime

Easy!

I also have some post-dance snacks and fruit in my bag (Creative Nature free-from Goji Goodness raw flapjacks) and my homemade lunches are ready in the fridge at work 🙂

Review: Yoga Toe Spreaders

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Doing tap dance (or any dance!) every week really pounds your feet, so it’s important to have a good foot-care regime. After class I tend to roll my feet with a spiky ball roller, stretch my toes and so on. However, while browsing the internet, I came across these gel yoga toe spreaders which are supposed to help relieve bunions and plantar fasciitis, realign wayward toes and hammer toes and generally relax aching feet. Well, I need help with all of the above, so I ordered a set.

How did they fare?

After a bit of a fight to get the thing between my toes and the initial weird feeling of my toes being spread out beyond what they were used to, I really noticed just how relaxed my feet and toes started to feel. We spend so much time running around in shoes, or scrunching our toes up that it feels almost weird to feel truly relaxed feet where each toe is an individual. I guess it’s a bit like going from running trainers to those bare-foot five-finger running things where there is a space for each individual toe. You eventually get used to the realignment of your toes and feet.

The toe spreaders were definitely easier to put on each time and I could wear them for longer, which suggests perhaps a subtle correction of alignment, or that my toes were getting used to wearing them each time.

Verdict: I love them!

  • Very good value for money at £3 a pair
  • Any post-class ache in my feet and toes was reduced
  • You can wear them and put your feet up to relax in front of the TV or with a book
  • Made of silicone, they’re easy to manipulate and to wash (I would advise washing with soap & water and dusting them with talc before next use)

They’re not going to vanish your bunion or hammer toes overnight, but they are a good stretch for the toes 🙂

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Check out my tan!

Rollin’

This afternoon I spent a bit of time rolling out my calves and Achilles tendons because they’ve been quite tight and achy, having not really stretched properly after Wednesday night’s rhythm tap class. Despite the heatwave, I have been really good and not worn any unsupportive flat shoes or sandals that are everywhere at the moment. Arch support at all times! Because my right foot and ankle tends to swell a bit in the heat (something I was so paranoid about when I was doing ballet), I’ve been travelling to and from work in lace-up tennis shoes to avoid that as much as possible.

Speaking to a classmate on Wednesday, I realised I did actually end up missing a week of our Candy Shop routine after all, but no disaster, I was able to catch up this week (song by Andrew Bird if you’re interested). I feel like this routine is pushing us a lot more, which is great. It seems like there is a lot going on, but at the same time, you can pick it up and the speed and sliding around makes it fun! The triumph of the evening was the fact that I was finally able to get the shuffle-step thing that most of us were struggling with last time – yay! Our teacher got us to do it again and again, and again (and again LOL).

Bumped into K, who I haven’t seen in about 6 months, in the corridor afterwards and she was asking me why I was walking away from the level 3 class! So I said about the timing etc. She’s been doing choir, which she loves, and is getting to perform regularly, but really misses tap and like me and R, wants to try level 3. As she works at the college, she said she’s going to get in our teacher’s ear about a level 3 class that is earlier in the day. We’ll see! I had intended to try level 3 that evening, but decided it would be better at the start of the new term…and not during a heatwave!

I did a crazy thing earlier that day and enrolled onto the ‘Summer Tap Intensive (Improvers/Intermediate)’ at City Lit, which takes place over 3 mornings at the end of July. OH MY DAYZ!!! I have been umming and ahhing over going to the London Tap Dance Intensive at the end of July where there are so many amazing people teaching (like Adam Garcia of Coyote Ugly fame) and I wouldn’t need to take any time off work, but then I saw this tap intensive, which is half the price, likely a smaller class size, and we’ll be learning about different tap styles, artists and history in a more relaxed atmosphere. I’m so excited!

In the mean time there is one week left of term before we head into the ‘Summer Shorts’, where I’ll be doing the Tap Shim Sham Workshop, and possibly the Improv class. August is when I tend to buy a PAYG gym pass and use the University gym opposite work a few lunchtimes a week just to keep up fitness levels.

I also have my eye on a vocal anatomy workshop at City Lit in July because I find I’m losing my voice quite easily lately, and I dread having to speak in public or read things out at the moment. I’d like to learn a bit about vocal projection, which will help in many spheres of life.

What are your plans for the summer? Dance intensives? Taking a break? Learning something new?

Relax… 

DSC_0369.JPGYesterday my SO and I went to Sopwell House Spa in St Albans for a spa and afternoon tea (my birthday present to him) plus we added on a massage each!

We used the gym, steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and swam a few lengths in the pool, followed by our massages in the afternoon.

I had a ESPA Hot Stone full body massage OH YESSSSS, and my SO had a Clarins Men’s Muscle Ease. I’d never had a hot stone massage before but it was recommended and it was AMAZING! If you get the chance, have one. Anyway, as I suspected, I was very knotted in the shoulders, so the therapist worked those out, and the addition of those hot stones and lavender and orange oils really helped with the relaxation aspect. She recommended that I get a back neck and shoulder massage once a month. I did used to get a massage every other month, but I wasn’t so keen on the salon I was using. Will have to try one I’ve spotted in Waterloo if it’s not too expensive.

DSC_0370.JPGHad a lovely selection of sandwiches, cakes and scones. I’ve gone a week without coffee, so I had Earl Grey tea with mine.

A much needed relaxation day after a crazy, stressful year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feelin’ Good 

Since I’ve moved house, been getting more sleep and have cut out the frothy coffees (as of the weekend) I’m feeling a lot more awake – Yippee! Tomorrow’s ballet is my last class of the year (boo!) but that will give me some evenings in to get back on my stretches before returning to Tap in January 🙂

Actually

I had a bad day at work and was hacked off and overwhelmed by the fact I’ve basically been left on my own in the office for most of the week while everyone else bogged off to a conference (held biennially)/took holiday/worked from home/were off sick… All at the same time! Okay, the person who was ill couldn’t help that, but apart from him,  there was no planning, communication or thought for cover. So I had a melt down and left the office 2 hours early. Left my dancewear under my desk and didn’t want to go back, so I missed the La La Land Tap Workshop. My head was (and still is) frazzled. Arghhh.

On the plus side (there’s ALWAYS a positive!) I stopped by Bloch in Covent Garden and tried on the new tap shoes designed by Chloe and Maud Arnold of the Syncopated Ladies! They didn’t have the black and white ones in my size in stock, so I tried the black ones for size. Chloe and Maud are over in the UK this week and were actually at the store yesterday talking about the shoe! I didn’t go because I’ve done a class with Maud in Brighton (remember Afro Funk? LOL) They are sooo comfortable and will be an easy transition from my current Bloch Sync tap shoes. They are going to be a Christmas present from my SO and his parents. Very excited to return to Rhythm Tap 2 in January wearing them!

Anyway, I’m going to rest this weekend.  And cuddle my cat.