No one wants bunions, not even Paul Bunyan, and especially not dancers. Let’s face it, dancers sacrifice the beauty of their feet for their art, so if you have bunions, it only makes dancing seem that much harder. But dancing with bunions is not impossible! 

What are Bunions?

If you don’t know, a bunion is a bony bump that shows up on your big toe. Sadly, bunions are hereditary and can sometimes, but rarely, be triggered by narrow shoes. Contrary to popular belief, they are not caused by dance. Luckily, our bodies adapt and if you are predisposed to getting bunions, have no fear, you can still dance without being in pain.

However, if you are currently dealing with bunions, check with your doctor and dance teacher about what exercises are safe for you to do.

How to Deal With Bunions as a Ballet Dancer

Here are some ways you can help deal with your bunions without resorting to a surgical procedure:

One crucial thing to do is to strengthen the muscles surrounding the big toe. It’s really important to stretch your feet, specifically your toes before or after a ballet class or a pointe class. One easy stretch is to just pulling your toes off the floor to wake up the feet. Another great way to keep your toes going is to use a TheraBand or even a towel, to create some resistance and really stretch the muscles.

 You can also use the band to stretch your entire foot against it and activate your ankles too. Then, if you’re using a towel, lay it on the ground, and if you’re not using one, grab one, and then try to grab the towel and pull it forward using just your toes. Another thing you can do is “dome” your feet. Just arch your feet with the ball of the foot still on the ground, then relax and repeat. The key is maintaining mobility in the toes and in the feet so that way you don’t aggravate your bunions.

 If you’re on pointe, pay attention to your pointe shoes! Are you curling your foot when you go up on to plié? Then it might be time to get a taller shoe. According to Pointe Magazine, “If your toes curl in plié, your shoe is too short, and that reduces the leverage and strength the toes have to support and protect the foot,” says Novella, a podiatrist who works with New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre. Too-short shoes can cause metatarsal stress fractures; dancers with more advanced bunions are particularly vulnerable.”

Home Remedies for Bunions

On top of stretching and giving your bunions some love, you can also use other at home remedies to treat them. According to Dance Spirit Magazine, Vaseline does the trick quite well, “If the area develops friction blisters, use Vaseline and a small amount of lamb’s wool in your shoes. Dr. Weil, a podiatric surgeon from Chicago, also suggests massaging the bunion with ice, in the direction of your heart, to reduce inflammation.”

Final Thoughts: How to Deal With Bunions as a Ballet Dancer

If you have bunions, it’s nothing to be embarrassed of! 10- 25% of people have them, so they’re pretty common. Your career as a dancer is not doomed by any means. Between stretching and treatments, you can still be an amazing dancer, and you don’t have to quit pointe either, despite those pesky bumps on your toe. Talk to your doctor about any potential treatments or exercises before you try them and if they are really bothering you, talk to your doctor about getting them removed. Either way, bunions will not prevent you from dancing across the stage!

Leave a Comment!