Tips to Happy Stiletto Feet

by Sharna Fabiano

Ladies, do your feet hurt after tango? Of special concern to tangueras who wear high heels for dancing is foot care!

First, understand that if you spend any length of time in high heels, you MUST have a "recovery practice" that undoes the damage that high heels do. Below are some tips to keep your feet happy and ready to dance!


1. Invest in comfortable (flat) walking shoes or well-padded sneakers to wear when you are not in heels, and go barefoot or "sockfoot" at home. For those near the beach, walking barefoot on sand is one of the best things you can do to strengthen your feet!

2. Only dance in heels that were professionally made for dancing, preferably open-toe styles. Dancing in street/fashion heels of any kind will almost always be more painful and damaging to your foot, because the shoes are stiffer, heavier, and more restricting.

3. At the milonga or practica, don't stand around in your heels, either sit or dance.

AFTER DANCING (From an article by Neal M. Blitz, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S.)

1. Yoga, Stretching & Foot Exercises. The Achilles Tendon and calf muscle becomes tight (or shortened) from high heels, so its important to actively perform stretches. Additionally, the pure nature of high heels causes the toes to buckle and contract, and can specifically result in hammer toes. Yoga is an excellent method to stay stretched, and specific postures that benefit the feet include: Downward-facing dog, and the Virasana-Hero Pose. A runners wall stretch specifically targets the Achilles Tendon. Perform simple range-of-motion exercises of the ankles as it keeps the blood flowing within the foot and can help remove excess fluids (swelling) in the lower leg. This is best accomplished by moving the foot up, down, left, right, and in circles. Another method is to draw an imaginary alphabet with your big toe.

Here is a video of some more great stretches: 

2. Soak your feet in Mineral Foot Bath. Aside from being relaxing, Epsom salt soaks have long been used to soothe sore body parts, especially the feet. Epsom salt is actually not a salt, but rather a natural mineral of magnesium and sulfate, and can be absorbed through the skin. Magnesium is important for the body to build and repair tissues as its used in more than 300 enzymatic reactions. Warm water allows for the dilation of the body blood vessels and opens the skins pores. So, think of this as a mineral bath that provides direct benefit to your feet when they need to recover.

3. Pamper your feet. The presence of improperly cut toe nails or ingrown nails may cause pain after wearing high heels and pointy toed shoes. And thick focal calluses themselves may be painful. Having a pedicure may directly alleviate these painful areas. People with diabetes should always use caution when receiving foot care and strongly consider a health care professional for these services.

4. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize. It is important to keep the skin on your foot supple and moisturized, as rough areas develop on pressure points and can be painful. Even after a few hours of wearing high heels and cramped shoes dry patches of skin may occur. The ball of the foot takes the most impact with high heels, and the foot can become quite callused in this area. Thicker calluses may become painful, especially if they are cracked and fissured. The top of the toes may develop corns that can also be painful in a closed toe shoe. The back of the heel is notorious for becoming irritated and one can develop blisters and sores with dry skin. Moisturizers dedicated to the feet are often best, as the skin of the bottom of the foot is thicker and actually has an additional layer of skin compared to skin elsewhere. Urea based creams are most commonly known for moisturizing. Also I often recommend moisturizers that are made with Jojoba oil, a liquid wax from a seed extract. Jojoba oil has anti-fungal properties (a benefit for feet) and has been studied for anti-inflammatory properties as well. Of course, moisturizing creams should be applied after a foot bath for maximal penetration.

5. Deep Massage. Massage is thought to provide pain relief from musculoskeletal injury, as well as alleviate anxiety. The therapeutic benefits of deep tissue massage go back to ancient times and dozens of techniques exist. The arch of the foot contains several muscles that are intrinsic to the foot, and work to stabilize the toes. The altered alignment and biomechanics may result in muscular imbalances within the foot and muscular strains. Additionally, deep tissue massage may also improve blood flow and alleviate lymphatic edema.

SO, what do you think? Let us know of your favorite foot-care routine pre, during, or post milonga! Share with your fellow tangueras by posting a comment or liking on facebook! 


on 2014-02-20 06:12 by Oxygen Tango


Sharna has been on Oxygen's teaching staff since 2012 and teaches Wednesday's INT-ADV classes and special programs.  Join her Sunday March 23rd for Fundamentals Bootcamp on Crosses and Ochos!