As dancers, one of the most important tools we possess is our feet.

They move us, turn us, can make us look good, and are the foundation on which the rest of our dance rests. It is very easy over the course of an event to over-strain our feet to the point where we find it difficult to enjoy the rest of the weekend. Other issues include swollen feet, blisters, and shoes that aren’t fitting properly… but there is hope! Here are some fixes that may work for you.

Swollen and Sore Feet

Cool Water: This trick I learned when I worked in a shoe store during the day and wanted to dance during the evening. Standing on a concrete floor for 8+ hours would leave my feet extremely tender and swollen to the point that my shoes sometimes would not fit. One day, I randomly decided to try standing on a wad of paper towels soaked in cold water. It was miraculous.

Ten minutes on that cool surface shrank my feet back to normal size and eliminated much of the pain I was feeling – and it stayed that way for the whole night! This is one trick I’ve sworn by since.

Athletic Tape: You know that white tape that helps to stabilize athletes? It’s also great for your feet. If they are dying of pain, wrap some around the ball of your foot (not too tight!) and you may find yourself able to dance for a few more hours. Just be gentle when taking off the tape, because it is quite sticky!

Stretching: Develop a good foot-stretching exercise. Roll the toes under, and then stretch them the reverse way. Do ankle rolls. Give yourself a small foot massage – especially in the arch.

Insoles: If foot pain is a frequent problem, you should look into getting dance shoe orthotics or insoles. It’s worth it, and you can usually transfer them between pairs. offers custom ones for dance shoes – including heels – but there are many other options available as well. My dance partner uses plain old Dr. Scholls.


Of course, one of the go-to solutions for blisters once you have them is band-aids. This is always a good option, but I’ve found a couple tweaks that I prefer to the band-aid option.

The first is to replace band-aids with athletic tape. Band-aids usually fell off too readily and then it was back to square 1. I found that athletic tape would stay on better, was more customizable and offered otherwise the same benefits. I also put a small square of tissue paper on the affected area before applying the band-aid to prevent painful pulling when removing the tape at the end of the night.

The second way that I tweaked this was putting on the tape or band-aid before the blister develops. I usually can tell right away if a pair of new shoes may give me a blister. I immediately put tape on that area of the foot. That way, I just don’t have to worry about it the whole night.

I try to also avoid popping blisters when I need to go dance soon. The best time to do that is before bed, so that the affected area has a chance to dry up and air out.

Bad shoe fit

A benefit of working in a shoe store for 4 years means that I figured out how to make just about every shoe fit, more or less.

  • If the shoe is slightly big: Try a full insole or a toe pad. These push your feet up and back into the shoe. I prefer the versions with adhesive that actually stick to the shoes. I’ve also seen some creative interpretations when no insoles are available. One woman made creative use of bra inserts she had on hand. It worked!
  • If the heel is loose: Try using a heel grip. These are specifically designed to help your foot grip the heel of the shoe.
  • If there is an area that always gives a blister: put a bit of athletic tape on the shoe in that place. Sometimes this can get rid of rubbing.
  • If the shoe is too small: Wear them around the house with socks on. (If you usually wear the shoe with socks, wear extra thick ones or 2 pairs)
  • If you feel the shoe is wobbling: Put a thick elastic band around your foot and the shoe in the arch area. It can help hold your foot in place.

The Importance of Good Shoes:

The above are fixes for when things are wrong, but the best thing you can do to keep your feet in good shape is to wear proper footwear. Ensure the shoes fit. Make sure your foot is properly supported. Listen to their limits and stop if something feels wrong.

One thing I see a lot is people who take great care of their feet when it comes to dance shoes, and then wear terrible shoes in their day-to-day life. Unless you are a dance professional, chances are you usually don’t spend more than 4 hours a day in your shoes. That leaves a large amount of time you will be wearing other shoes and doing other things with your feet. If you want to save your feet for dancing, make sure that you wear properly supported, comfortable shoes during the rest of your life as well. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Enjoyed this article? Leave your tips in the comments below, or share on Facebook!