Please be aware of this basic rule for all dancers: "Never take your feet for granted."
Because dancing is so much fun, sometimes it's easy to forget how much work our feet really do, regardless of height, weight, build or age.
First, make sure your doctor says it's OK to start ballroom dancing before signing up for classes, especially the more aerobic dancing styles, like Salsa, Swing, Jive or Quickstep.
Our feet are subjected to literally tons of pressure during an active night of ballroom dancing. Containing more than 25 percent of all the bones in our bodies, the feet and ankles are working for us like the best automotive shock absorbers.
Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments! Add a vast network of nerves and blood vessels, and the foot is truly an amazing structure! Yet, like any body part, feet can become fatigued or ache.
Properly fitted dance shoes can help reduce discomfort, but occasionally you might still feel some pain after dancing. Gentle foot and ankle stretches before and after dancing often help. If mild discomfort doesn't disappear, try backing off your dance routine, perhaps an hour less during a dance party or practice. If that feels OK, then carefully notice what happens as you gradually increase floor time.
Get a medical diagnosis for any consistent foot pain.
Do not try to be your own doctor. It's not unusual for professional dancers and dedicated veteran amateurs to check in with a foot specialist at one time or another. In many cases they wish they had done it sooner rather than later, when symptoms or conditions can become more difficult to treat.
Get medical advice if foot pain becomes chronic, interferes with daily activities, or prevents you from other exercises. If you need to sit out several of your favorite dances, or you find yourself popping pain-relieving medications during or after dancing, it's time to get some help.
Dance Safely and Comfortably!
Some dancers wear customized orthotics or special shoes to keep their feet supported, protected from stress, and pain-free. Fortunately, we have some great sports medicine clinics located in the Bay Area, often associated with top universities or highly regarded medical centers.
Look for podiatrists, certified sports trainers and physical therapists who have solid reputations for working with professional dancers and other athletes. They often find ways of getting you safely and comfortably back on the floor.
Just like running, basketball, or tennis, dancing is very much a sport!
Hope to see you on the dance floor!
Cheryl Burke Dance Studios are located in two California locations: Mountain View and Laguna Niguel. For more information, see cherylburkedance.com and click on the studio "Contact Us" or the studio Facebook pages.
© 2012, Cheryl Burke Dance, LLC. All rights reserved.