Let’s face it. Irish dance is hard on a person’s feet, especially if that person has been walking around on those feet for a few decades (or more). Tender care of your feet and selection of proper fitting shoes can help keep your feet in prime condition.
Craig Coussins, the original creator of the famous Hullachan Irish dance shoes, kindly agreed to let me share with you some of his foot care tips.
Mr. Coussins cautions against tying your laces under the arch of your foot. He feels so strongly about this that he has developed a revolutionary way to tie laces. An instructional video can be found on Mr. Coussins’ website.
Cut your nails straight across to prevent ingrown toenails. Buff the edges lightly and never pick at the nail or skin of your toes. Keep your feet clean and treat blisters and fungal growth. Watch for redness on the toe joints and consult a podiatrist if there is an ongoing problem.
Watch for soreness under your heels. Be careful not to tie your shoes around the heel area where it can press into the Achilles tendon. Heel pads can be helpful in relieving tenderness.
Mr. Coussins recommends that dancers should always warm up their feet before class and cool down after dancing. Take time to massage your feet after class to relieve tension.
Proper shoes contribute to overall foot health. An adult Irish dancer’s shoe should fit snuggly, with no “room to grow”. Toes that bulge through the leather where they knuckle might indicate that a larger size is needed. If your feet differ in size (more than ½ inch) you may want to consider purchasing two different pairs of shoes.
Hullachan shoes in Craig's workshop Photo: courtesy Craig Coussins, Hullachans
Spend a little time and make your feet happy. An investment in preventative foot care will enable you to pound on the floor for decades to come.
I am interested to know what other dancers do to keep their feet in good shape. Is time spent on your feet worth it in the end? What do you think?
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