Oh, My Aching Feet
by Sandi & Dan Finch
It’s that time of year, when so many are off to one dance convention or
another. McCloud in June and July, National Square Dance Convention the
week of June 25, ICBDA the week of July 9. It’s time to learn a lot,
meet up with old friends, and hone your dancing skills. It is also time
to think about your feet.
At ICBDA, the die-hards will be on their feet from the first teach at 9
a.m. until settling into bed after the last dancing set at 10:30 p.m.
Without a doubt, the feet will be tired.
The foot is a complex anatomic structure of 26 bones and 33 joints that
work together with 107 ligaments, muscles, and tendons. It feels good
to massage the calf of the leg and the foot at the same time because
the primary flexor in the big toe is a deep muscle coming from the back
of the leg with its tendon attaching to the underside of the big toe.
(Anatomy lesson courtesy of “The Healthy Dancer: Guidelines for Dancer
Health,” published by the American Ballet Theater.)
Think RICE when your feet ache. No, not to eat, but to remind you how
to treat your feet. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Get off them,
apply some ice, massage what aches, and prop them up on a chair for a
bit. Here are some tips to help relieve your tired tootsies.
Carry an old sock and three golf balls with you. Put the golf balls in
the sock so they lie flat on the ground but with no extra room in the
sock. While sitting in a chair, roll your foot across the sock for 10
minutes, then apply an ice pack for 10 minutes. We might feel like a
hot compress would be soothing, but the cold is supposed to eliminate
waste from the muscle tissues and encourage the body to send necessary
elements down to repower the feet.
With a willing partner, sit facing each other. Take one of your
partner’s feet in both hands, holding it just behind the toes, one hand
on each side, like you were holding a book. Now move one hand toward
you and away, like working on a wash board (anyone remember that?!),
firmly, slowly, then a little faster, subtly changing the emphasis of
your grip periodically. You are stretching the muscles between the toes
of the foot. This can be relaxing and also can release blockages that
have built up in the deep tissues. Change feet, and then ask your
partner to do the same to you.
Back in the room, do a little self-massage with a good-smelling body
lotion. Don’t worry about doing the strokes exactly right. If it feels
good, it must be right. If you have a partner, do a foot, leg, and calf
massage on each other. Make it a quiet, together time to discuss what
you saw and learned during the day.
From a club newsletter prepared by Dan
and Sandi Finch , 2013, and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance
Newsletter, June 2014.