Health & Body

Treat Your Feet: The Foot-Care Products Dancers Love

Ashley Ellis, photo by Albert Ayzenberg, courtesy of Ashley Ellis

Every dancer has learned—probably the hard way—that healthy feet are the foundation of a productive and happy day in the studio. As dancers, our most important asset has to carry the weight (literally) of everything we do. So it's not surprising that most professional dancers have foot care down to an art.

Three dancers shared their foot-care products they can't live without.


Ashley Ellis, Boston Ballet Principal

Ashley Ellis and Eris Nezha in The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Liza Voll, courtesy Boston Ballet

Massage tool: Gua sha. "It's an Eastern-medicine practice that uses a tiny tool that's round like an animal horn. I usually use a scraping motion along the bottom of my foot with one of the long edges and use a narrower side to get softly in between the metatarsals on top of my foot, always being careful not to press too hard or scrape directly over any of the bones. I also scrape upward along the front of my ankle and then on my peroneals and the muscles in my shin."

For blisters: 2nd Skin squares. "I cover up blisters and corns with the little blue gel 2nd Skin squares and then tape over that—it's a really good cushion."

Warm-up wear: Bbooties. "They have a really good structure with thick foam on the bottom. The company was created by former Hamburg Ballet principal dancer Otto Bubenícek and produced by his mother."

Jaclyn Wheatley, Spectrum Dance Theater

Jaclyn Wheatley in Donald Byrd's Roaming Ghosts, a piece from Rambunctious Iteration #3 "The Immigrant. Photo by Joseph Lambert, courtesy Spectrum

Favorite ointment: Bag Balm. "It's a super-thick ointment designed for cow udders. I have scary calluses that get really dry and cracked, so I lather up my feet and put on some fuzzy socks before I go to bed."

Massage tools: Golf ball and racquet ball. "I always keep a golf ball in my backpack for all the hard-to-reach places in the metatarsals, and my choice for a bigger ball is a racquet ball. They have just enough give."

Compression socks: Apolla Shocks. "Whenever I'm feeling super-sore, I'll take a shower and put on my creams—Bag Balm and sometimes antifungal cream if I have an open crack or blister—and slip my Apolla Shocks on. I always wear them on planes when we're on tour, to keep the blood flow going and make sure I don't get swollen."

Sarah Cordia, Nashville Ballet

Sarah Cordia in Paul Vasterling's Carmina Burana. Photo by Karyn photography, courtesy Nashville Ballet.

Skin care oils: Peppermint oil, coconut oil and Betadine. "I mix a couple drops of peppermint oil with coconut oil (a natural antibacterial) every night and moisturize right before I go to bed. And every morning and night I soak my feet in an Epsom salt bath. Whenever I have a wound, I use Betadine. It's good at drying things out and disinfecting but also moisturizing."

Pointe shoe padding: Half-toe sock. "I get soft corns in between my toes is because I have sweaty feet. Wearing toe socks helps keep that area dry. I found a half-toe sock called 'five-toe heelless half-boat socks' that I now wear in my pointe shoes."

After-hours footwear: Orthaheel. "I wear these fancy flip-flops with built-in arch support in summertime, when I'm not in pointe shoes."

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