Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Perfect Pirouette

Dancing can be harsh on your feet. In pole dancing, we often begin our classes in bare feet in order to work on proper foot exercises and form while dancing. As an instructor, I teach my students to point their feet creating clean lines beginning from the foot up the leg while maintaining weight on the balls of the feet. The balls of the feet often get sore with repetitious movement during a dance practice. In order to prevent soreness, the dance industry has introduced products that protect the dancer's sensitive areas of the foot. I have been fortunate enough to try out three of the products currently on the market: Dance Paws, Capezio Foot Undeez, and Toe-Kini.

Dance Paws, Capezio Foot Undeez, and Toe-kini are elastic half socks that dancers place on their feet. Dance Paws require the user to place each toe in it's own cut out in the half sock. The bottom of the half sock is made with a thick suede pad that allows smooth movement for the dancer on hard floor or carpeted surfaces all while protecting the ball of the foot. Dance Paws are available in light nude, dark nude, and black. Dance Paws also have an adjustable elastic strap secured with velcro or the option of a fixed strap. I have the adjustable elastic strap in light nude. I really enjoy using my Dance Paws. The thickness of the suede pad keeps my feet comfortable during dancing. I'm also able to climb the pole effortlessly with my Dance Paws on.

Capezio Foot Undeez look like a pair of tiny underwear with two holes- one for the big toe and another for the remaining four toes. The suede pad on the ball of the foot is divided into two separate pads and placed where weight is distributed in the foot as opposed to the Dance Paws which have a single one piece suede pad. The division of the pad when wearing the Capezio Foot Undeez appears to be slightly thinner than the Dance Paws, however the difference is not significant enough to cause post dancing soreness in the areas of intended protection. The Capezio Foot Undeez are easy to put on and remove quickly compared to the Dance Paws which require careful placement to assure all toes are correctly inserted into the toe holes and the additional time to adjust the elastic strap. Capezio Foot Undeez are available in trendy designs and colors which appeal to dancers of all ages.

Toe-kini are a less expensive version of the Capezio Foot Undeez. Toe-kinis are comparable to the structure of the Foot Undeez, however the difference is a significantly thinner suede pad. The Toe-kinis allowed me to perform as desired, however post work out I experienced soreness in the balls of my feet. The durability of the Toe-kini is inferior to the Dance Paws and Capezio Foot Undeez, however I highly recommend the use of Toe-kini if you are considering whether or not you'd be able to tolerate dancing with the half socks on your feet. Toe-kinis are inexpensive and was easily found in the foot care department at my local Meijers or Walgreens stores. Please note that the intended purpose of Toe-kini are for wearing with high heels to add extra cushion in shoes that are otherwise uncomfortable, however they also advertise the product is suitable for dance performance in addition to it's common use.

All products are easy to clean. I use a nickle size amount of laundry detergent with warm water in the sink, rinse thoroughly, and air dry. The nude colored products have a tendency to look dirtier from walking around dance studios, so I recommend purchasing a darker color. Overall, I found these products to be wonderful additions to the dance industry. There are some days I don't want to wear my shoes and I find these to give me the perfect alternative to bare feet that allows me to incorporate smooth, beautiful, and painless transitions in my dance practice.

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