Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Chronic foot strain from dancing: Marathon, Disco and Raver's Foot

Overuse of the feet during dance marathons was a common cause of foot strain and sore feet. The design of dancing shoes, particularly the formal types, is seldom consistent with the anatomical features of the foot and by their very nature tends to be smaller and tighter than everyday footwear. The degree of foot strain is related directly to time spent on the feet. Professional dancers are less prone to acute foot strain than the amateur dancer. To the uninitiated too many visits to the dance club may result in hot, swollen and tender joints. Depending on the severity this may range from mild discomfort to total collapse. Complete rest is indicated for a few days with absolute recovery guaranteed thereafter.

Disco Foot was a recognised medical condition and was first identified in the 1970's with the popularity of discotheques. 20th century dance crazes brought with them painful foot conditions generally associated with overuse. From the Black Bottom to the Twist, from Ballroom to Boot scooting, all have claimed their victims.

Dance marathons originated in the US and were very popular in the thirties and forties. More recently the nineties equivalent was the Rave and Raver's Foot brought the chemical generation chronic foot strain. The symptoms are pain and tenderness within the joints of the feet. Closer examination usually reveals hot, moist, skin and the foot is visibly swollen. Often the sufferer will consciously change the way they hold their feet and further injuries, such as ankle sprains and bone fractures, may follow. Secondary changes to the shape of the foot may result with inevitable advanced osteoarthrosis affecting the weight bearing joints. This is of great concern to the professional dancer especially since chronic foot strain does not readily respond to conservative treatment.

In the case of ballet dancers for example, years of abuse result in irreversible gross deformities of the forefoot. There are five formally defined positions with very specific movements. After young female dancers develop sufficient body strength and dance technique they change their footwear from pumps (technique shoes) to pointe shoes (or toe shoes). In pointe shoes, the body's weight is supported primarily on the first and second toes only. All parents want their offspring to develop deportment but fortunately not everyone will make a ballet dancer.

Tap dance and Soft Shoe Shuffle is gaining popularity as is ballroom and modern dancing. Dance shoes vary in design and construction depending on the type of dance performed. The tap shoe does however give support to the foot and a fighting chance to combat foot strain. As always with any recreational sport it is a question of exercise to tolerance and choose comfortable shoes especially for practice. When problems arise see your foot physician.

(Video Courtesy: Tap Dogs Official by Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 22/11/2018

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Two Amazing Northern Soul Dancers

(Video Courtesy: Northern Soul Young And Old Youtube Channel)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Ballet Shoes : Carbon Fibre Shanks

The price of a good pair of ballet shoes is expensive and en pointe shoes , on average, last about one pair per performance. Ballerinas are tough on their shoes and the main problem seems to be the reinforced cardboard shank of the shoe

Pointe shoes have two important pivotal parts: the “box” or toe block holds the toes in place and never bends: and the shank which runs along the bottom of the entire foot and gives support to some of a dancer’s weight. This needs to be flexible rnough to withstand torque (twisting) to give the foot support en point without snapping . Repeated hops and leaps in high humidity (perspiration) cause the shank to fatigue giving no support to the foot and increasing the risk of injury.

Abigail Freed is a young ballet dancer determined to solve the problem with science and developed a proto-type carbon-fibre shank as a project. Material made up of tiny fibres of carbon atoms. Each between 5 to 10 micrometres thick (a tenth of the width of a human hair), makes a strong lightweight material capable of reinforcing everything from the blades of helicopters to protective fabrics.

Abigail bought a roll of carbon fibre fabric from the web and after carefully removing the origian cardboard shank in her ballet shoes replaced it with a carbon fibre template. She experimented with different thicknesses, carefully going through her dance positions, in trial and error fashion until she found a winning combination. After preliminary invivo tests proved successful , she took her pointe shoes to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), run by Society for Science & the Public, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of science. She now hopes to patent her shoe.

(Video Courtesy: The Australian Ballet Youtube Channel)

Further Reading
Colucci LA, Klein DE (2008) Development of an innovative pointe shoe Ergonomics in Design Summer p6-12

Friday, July 20, 2018

James Brown - Get on the Good Foot

(Video Courtesy: '00s Grits & Soul Youtube Channel)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Dancing shoes: Take care of the pair

Like all sporting activities (by that I mean. controlled movement which requires specific and learned activity) shoes can be an asset or drawback. Now that dancing has become popular again, there has never been a better time to review what the experts say about dancing shoes. Conventional wisdom prefers lower heels if dancing for long periods. Also shoes with straps are preferred to get a better fit with less foot slip. These are called ‘character shoes’ and help the foot and shoe act as one. Unlike outdoor footwear the dancer wants to have as little friction between the sole and the dance floor as possible. This allows the dancer to spin; hence dancing shoes need leather soles or non-grip rubber soles.

(Video Courtesy: Donny Robbins Youtube Channel)

Glamorous footwear need to look sharp but if damage to the toes is to be avoided, then the shoe should have plenty of room for all five toes and some room for the foot to expand after a heavy session of dancing. This requires a soft upper, which can accommodate changes in volume. When properly maintained and lovingly cared for dedicated dancing shoes will last a lot longer than a pair used for every activity. Most competition dances are very superstitious and will have rituals they follow just like all competitors. Favourite shoes feature highly in the psyche.

Tired or aching feet by the end of the night should not be ignored or borne stoically. A handful of table salt dissolved into a basin of warm water (46 degrees c) is the ideal medium for a footbath. Bathe the feet for longer than 10 minutes. Application of a foot massage with cold cream is itself worth all the effort of the physical exertion of dancing.

As with any sport it prefers a certain type of physique, chronic injuries weaken the architecture of the leg and feet and should be avoided if at all possible. This is not always possible so do not ignore repetitive warnings like arch fatigue, tight tendons, or ankle sprains. Most professionals have warm up and warm down exercises they complete at competitions. Injuries are easier to prevent than cure it has to be said and foot supports are common accessories.

(Video Courtesy: KBMTALENT Youtube Channel)

Sometimes to the novice it appears you need a degree in podiatry to make sense of the insole requisite array, as seen at your local pharmacy or sport shoe shop. Rely on the experience of other dancers who may have tried everything and have a magical combination. Usually quality retailers will have staff willing to share these secret messages. Remember you often only get what you pay for and be prepared to replace the cheaper inlay more frequently. Prescribed foot orthoses are useful when part of managed care but by themselves serve no purpose. If in doubt, see your podiatrist.

(Video Courtesy: disc070s Youtube Channel)