Caring for your Feet
Always warm up before a class and also concentrate some of that warm up on the feet and ankles. Cool down after class which is very important, as this is when damage can also occur. This is much the same as a warm up as it loosens the muscles and joints.
Your feet are two of the most abused and often used parts of the body especially if you dance on them two to three times a week! You should make sure to give your feet the attention and care they deserve every so often. Hopefully this little guide will be of some use;
Wash in between your toes always, as this is an area that can build heat and cause fungal growth such as athlete’s foot. If you get this condition, use a cream or spray after washing and wash and apply two or three times a day. Also, spray inside your shoes, outdoor, slippers and dancing shoes.
The way we have designed our shoes is to try to rule out blisters by reducing the seams. Also try to wear socks without seams as these can rub on your toes, cause friction and give blisters.
Watch for any redness on the toe joints and report this immediately to your parents and arrange to see a podiatrist or foot specialist in case it is the start of a problem.
Massage your toes before and after dancing to release any tension. If you can’t do it yourself, get some one to gently press their hands around one foot near the ankle and press slightly while pulling their hands towards your toes. Gently press with the thumb into the metatarsal area, the ball of the foot, and massage for a minute or two. Massage each toe at each joint.
The arch is a very important part of your foot. Do not tie your laces tight around your arch or tape heavily, as it may cause damage to your arch.
Do not tie or tape heavily around the heel area where it can press into the Achilles tendon. This will inflame the tendon and put it at risk.
Damage on the top of the foot caused by tight lacing is also serious as it is a tender area. Muscle, blood vessels and tendon damage can occur here. Massage this area after every class to release the tension. Concentrate on your muscles in the foot and relax them. This will also require you to relax the leg muscles as well incidentally.
Plantar injuries may occur from a number of reasons. Use a pad to relieve pressure on Plantar Fasciitis, and other pain. Watch for soreness under the heel, on the heel bone at the back and on the tendon that comes out of the bone up into the leg.
Caring for your shoes
In all shoes there is a finite lifespan to the shoes durability. Unlike ordinary shoes which may last a long time, a dancer sometimes goes to classes two to three times a week as well as dancing most weekends at competitions. In short this means that the shoes are going to get a lot of punishment. We can make a shoe that will be extremely durable but to do that the shoe could well be stiffer, thicker and less flexible, in other words not meet the requirements of a dance shoe. We have made shoes that are suitable for the ‘sport’ dancer. Indeed Irish dancing is a sport; the dancer practises and then competes. The more athletic nature of the dance can be very hard on the shoe itself. The special construction techniques we have used to make both our hard shoes and pumps will mean that they do naturally last longer than what is currently out there.
Of course the shoe may well last much longer but we can not infinitely guarantee a shoe for longer than 28 days as this is the period that non novice dancers could possibly wear out their shoes. Most dancers understand that they will change their shoes every three months. The only way to make your shoes last longer is to wear two pairs of shoes and alternate them.
In a normal class, a dancer can exude a lot of sweat into their shoes. That means that the leather and components are soaking. Most times the dancer throws the shoes into a bag and only sees them at the next class. That will deteriorate the fine leather and stitching of the shoes. The shoes must be dried normally; that is not on a heater or with a hair dryer but in normal room condition air temperature or in an airing cupboard.
After wearing a soft leather shoe for a while, the shoe will need some tender loving care. Otherwise the leather will dry out after being wet and then dry and then wet again. The leather could start to break down quickly. To avoid this leather deterioration use a good quality shoe cream. Apply this once a week after you have dried your shoes. Apply after a competition and after the shoes have dried. You can also get leather food. Apply and let the food absorb into the shoes and then buff off.
Pumps: stitching care
Dancing can be very abrasive on the sole of the shoes. We can not use stiff leather suede as the dancer would not be able to flex their arch and feet. We use a thickness of leather that we both stick and stitch onto the upper. After wear, and unless treated, this stitching may very well wear. The sole can be caught on the edge of a floor, or damaged if worn off a dance floor. Few dancers are aware that carpet with a nylon element can be extremely abrasive and that can wear away outdoor shoe soles. So if you practice on a carpet please be aware that this could damage your shoes. To increase the lifespan of your stitching, the best way is to get a small block of beeswax and rub a little into the stitching where it comes into contact with the floor. This will need to be done every week and after every competition.