I'm a Broadway dancer with a long second toe and the nail is always bruised. I had thought switching from pointe work to dancing in character shoes was the answer—I felt great for several years until recently. What's the problem?
—Ouch!, Hoboken, NJ
Your shoes may no longer be the right size for you. According to New York City Ballet podiatric consultant Dr. Thomas Novella, you need to check the size of your dance shoes every three years as an adult. Even after you stop growing, feet spread with age, and may even get temporarily larger during a busy performance season.
Your foot type also plays a role in how you bruise. In your case, a long second toe requires a gel toe-cap on the first toe to distribute the weight more evenly. Cut your toenails close and straight across, and then round the corners with an emery board to prevent bruising and ingrown nails. If you currently have a bruised nail, a podiatrist may relieve the pain by drilling a hole to let out the trapped blood. If the nail falls off, tape it in place, if possible, until a new one grows. It doesn't sound glamorous, but it works!