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Bunion Pain Stalls Progress in Technique


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Hi everyone!


It's been a while since I last visited this forum. I have been taking adult ballet class for more than four years now.


There is one thing that has been bothering me increasingly: I just can't do a proper pirouette with the right leg as the supporting leg.


I figure it must have something to do with my right foot's bunion pain.


When I do pirouette preparation exercises at the barre, I can still manage to feel stable on the standing leg. But by the time I do pirouette exercises in the center, my right foot's big toe joint has already started to hurt and I cannot balance without feeling extremely bothered. Needless to say my turns to the left side are disastrous. I can't even position my left foot in front of the right knee--it falls to the back of the knee coz I can't get my right foot to balance properly on a high demi-pointe.


Does anybody have the same problem and if so, how do you solve it?


I have tried toe spacer but it is so uncomfortable to wear. I have ordered some new soft shoes that would probably allow more space for my wide feet, so I'll experiment with that.


I'd appreciate any suggestions you might have, other than taking pain killers. Thanks!

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To start off with, you may have to take a week or so off and ice the joint to get it to stop being so reactive. It would be good for you to visit a foot doc who has had experience in treating dancers too.


Dancers who have bunions have to do specific foot exercises- usually daily- in order to keep dancing. After a visit to a foot doc, perhaps a PT visit is in order?

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Thanks for your suggestions, Clara. I do not normally have pain while walking or doing the barre exercises. The pain seems to be set off by the repeated movements of the joint (esp releve) during class. To me, this is more of a chronic issue than an acute problem that would require icing. I have tried PTs and acupuncturists to no avail.


Today I did make some progress though. I dug out a pair of satin ballet slippers which I had custom-made for my very wide feet three years ago. They are bulky looking in the box but I decided to try them out for comfort. Boy, aren't they comfy! And they turned out to be not too bulky after all.


Then I sprayed some Magnesium oil onto my big toe joint so my muscles are relaxed and won't cramp up. It really seemed to help. The unbearable pain did not surface when it was time to do the pirouette exercises in the center. I was quite pleasantly surprised :shrug:.


Later on I'm going to try some other shoes later on and see if they are any better.

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I don't know if any of this will help, but for what it's worth here are some experiences of mine.


1) I found toe spacers to help, particularly with pain that develops over the course of a class. There are several variants; some I had to put between the first and second toes and then tape the toes together to keep the spacers in place. Some are longer than others, some have wider bits on top and/or on the bottom. Experimentation is in order to find what works.


2) I work with a myo-fascial release type massage therapist who has made some significant difference. He spent most of two hour-long sessions just on the joint where the phalange meets the metatarsal and it was fairly painful at the time btu has paid off.


3) Look up bunion taping on youtube, there is a good video of it. I haven't found the same tape but the cheap stuff from Walgreens and a little experimenting seems to be working out. (Warning - watch out for blisters, you do NOT want to rip off the top of a new blister with the tape! Don't ask ...)


4) Often bunions are associated with pronation - a separate problem that can also be treated, with suitable massage, orthotics, etc. I'm no expert on this but you probably do have to work with those root cause issues as well as the bunion issue itself.


Hope that helps. It's a journey and I'm on the same road, nowhere the emerald city yet!

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Caveat: I know nothing about bunions! But ...


You say that the joint gives you "unbearable pain" but that toe spaces are "uncomfortable". Could you swap unbearable pain for discomfort by getting used to the toe spaces? Lesser of two evils and all that.

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Olddude: Thanks for your suggestions. I would love to try myo-fascial release massage. I don't know where to find them though. In my country, masseuses either massage your whole body--and skip the feet, or you can go to a reflexologist who only deals with the feet. But I don't know if reflexologist work in any way similar to a massage therapist who focuses on myo-fascial release. I need to look into this to see if I can get some help.


The pronation problem is more of less taken care of though, as I have been doing "Egoscue exercises" for my bunion problem for some years and my big toe has actually straightened up quite a bit thanks to improvements in my overall posture. I don't have any pain or inflammation in the bunion joint at all in everyday life. It's just that the demand in ballet is so much higher with all the repeated motions for the joint in relevé. So I guess unless my joint is totally straight, there will still be some issues during dancing.


But the toe spacers are definitely worth a try again.


Redbookish: Thanks for your inspiration, I decided to overcome the discomfort with the toe spacers by taping one snugly between my big toe and second toe today during class. Before, I only wore it loose and then wore a toepad to keep it in place. But it made me unable to focus sometimes. Today, the pain never came and I am very pleased with the result.


Thank you for the nudge! :thumbsup:

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  • 1 month later...

What type of spacers are you using?


I just started following someone's suggestion here to use a makeup sponge as a spacer (and a huge thank you to whomever posted that) and it's made an amazing difference without feeling uncomfortable within the shoe.

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