by Ana Gherasim
The more you dance, the more important your feet become. We’ve talked about protecting your feet before, but I thought I’d talk a bit more about a footcare routine you can do regularly that will keep your soles happy.
There are a lot of footcare products and “kits” out there that you can buy pre-packaged, but their efficiency varies. Through trial and error, I put together a simple, fairly minimal kit for myself, and I thought I’d help you do the same, if you’re so inclined. Here’s what’s in mine:
- Epsom salt
Magnesium sulphate (Epsom salt) is the main ingredient in most bath salt and foot soak mixes, and has great benefits, from relieving aches to relaxing muscles and promoting their proper functioning. You can get a big bag of Epsom salt for cheap at any drug store. Mix ½ cup of salt into a large pan or basin of warm water and soak your feet as long as it feels right. You can also add essential oils for more benefits (see next point).
- Tea Tree Oil (or the essential oil of your choice)
Essential oils can also help relax muscles and refresh tired feet. Tea Tree Oil is my current favourite, but lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon or rose all work well – read up on their individual benefits or ask the staff at your favourite natural health store for a recommendation. A few drops of pure oil are enough for a foot bath.
- Pumice stone
Dancers learn to love well-placed callouses. Having tougher skin in the right spots protects us from pain when we’re dancing for hours. I still like having smooth feet though, and a pumice stone is great for smoothing the skin without being invasive. Gently pumice your freshly soaked feet until your soles feel smooth, then rinse and dry your feet.
- Foot cream
The skin on our feet is prone to dryness, but a good moisturizer helps keep it supple. Look for a thicker, nourishing cream or butter that your skin absorbs slowly (I like the Body Shop hemp line, and Tashodi Body Butters), and massage it thoroughly into your soles, concentrating where you feel the most tension.
- Toe spreaders
This one’s especially for women, since our shoes tend to push our toes together – over time, this pressure builds up and can lead to bunions, especially if you’re genetically prone to them like I am (thanks, nature!). Toe spreaders help realign your toes as well as relax the muscles in your feet. You can get them at most drug stores; they look something like this. They are easiest to use once your feet have been moisturized – just put your feet up and relax for 5-10 minutes!
How do you keep your feet happy and healthy? Share your tips, favourite products, and routines in the comments!