Your Aches and Pains Addressed: Blisters

Blisters are certainly a sign of lots of hard work and dancing. But it can be next to impossible for a dancer to do her job (especially on pointe) if they aren’t allowed to heal properly. DS spoke with podiatrist Dr. Ronald Werter about the best ways to prevent, cope with and treat blisters.

What are they?

Blisters are small pockets of liquid that form under the skin’s outer layer after it becomes damaged, usually by forceful rubbing.

What causes them?

Long, grueling rehearsals + dance shoes=a lot of sweat and friction—the perfect recipe for disaster if you don’t take preventive measures.

How to deal

“Don’t burst a blister. That’s opening a sterile internal area to the chance of outside infection,” Werter says. If you must drain the blister, clean the area with alcohol and sterilize a needle or pin with a flame. If the fluid inside is bloody or pus-like, seek medical attention; this could indicate an infection.

(via Thinkstock)

Blister Dos and Don'ts

DON’T: pick at or irritate a fresh blister. “You never want to take the top layer of skin off a newly formed blister. The raw skin underneath is more painful than the blister itself,” Werter says.

DO: use over-the-counter treatments to expedite healing. Werter recommends applying an antibiotic ointment, like Neosporin or Bacitracin, and then padding the blister and surrounding area with gauze or lamb’s wool.

DO: pay attention to the fabric of your tights. If you have particularly sweaty feet, Werter recommends synthetic blends. “Synthetic fabrics wick away moisture.”

Fire and (/or) Ice

Ouch! You rolled your ankle in rehearsal. Should you reach for the ice pack or the heating pad? Is one better in certain situations? (Hint: Yes!) We spoke to physical therapist Jennifer Connors of JumpStart Physical Therapy, whose team works closely with the dancers of Walnut Hill School for the Arts, in Natick, MA, about when to go hot and when to go cold.

(via Thinkstock)

Ice, Ice Baby

If you suffer an acute injury, like a sprain or a muscle pull, Connors suggests icing immediately. “Ice is most beneficial in the first 48 to 72 hours,” she says. “Applying a bag of crushed ice for 10 to 20 minutes every hour decreases pain and swelling.” Connors also recommends following the “PRICE” motto: Protect, rest, ice, compress, elevate. “Don’t ice an injury and immediately go back to dancing,” she says. Make sure to rest so it doesn’t get worse.

Hot Stuff

If you’re experiencing chronic pain—maybe a neck or back ache in the weeks following intense rehearsals—heat will help relax your muscles. Heat can also be helpful if you’re about to get a massage—it might even increase the benefits. However, don’t use heat immediately after hurting yourself. “Heat increases circulation and blood flow to an area, which is why you shouldn’t use it right after an injury. It’ll greatly contribute to the inflammatory phase,” Connors says. If after 72 hours swelling around the injury has gone down, you know it’s safe to use a heating pad. Connors advises applying heat for just under 15 minutes, and monitoring the temperature.

It’s best to work with your teachers, physical therapists and doctors to assess what’s causing your pain so that you aren’t simply icing or heating an injury that needs medical attention. Connors emphasizes getting screened by the appropriate health-care professionals if something continues to bother you.

Did You Know? 

#SleepHack! Tossing and turning after a long day at the studio? Falling asleep can be as easy as one, two, free—your foot, that is. Feet contain blood vessels called the arteriovenous anastomoses, which help regulate temperature—a key factor in falling asleep. So slip one foot out of the covers and you’ll slip into a slumber.

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti


Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search