Health & Body

Ask Deb: How Can I Prevent Bunion Growth?

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Q: Can I Keep My Bunions From Getting Bigger?


A: Yes! There are muscles attached to your toes that keep them separated. When you get a bunion or bunionette (bunions on the little-toe side) you begin to lose the ability to spread the toes. The less able you are to fan the toes and stand evenly on your feet, the more easily you pronate, which in turn can enlarge your bunions because bones respond to the forces placed on them. Focusing on strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the feet and standing evenly on the pads of the big toe, little toe and heel will help keep you from pronating and prevent the bunions from getting bigger.

It's important to figure out why you got your bunions in the first place. Although familial patterns of alignment and structure may be more or less conducive to developing bunions, they are not actually hereditary. Did you get them from forcing turnout at your feet, and rolling in when you are in first position? Do you have a pronation problem that needs to be addressed with orthotics? Being properly placed on the feet with balanced and strong foot muscles is always the first step toward reducing bunion pain.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

Recently, I posted a thread of tweets elucidating the lack of respect for tap dance in college dance programs, and arguing that it should be a requirement for dance majors.

According to onstageblog.com, out of the 30 top-ranked college dance programs in the U.S., tap dance is offered at 19 of them, but only one school requires majors to take more than a beginner course—Oklahoma City University. Many prestigious dance programs, like the ones at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and SUNY Purchase, don't offer a single course in tap dance.

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Teaching Tips
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After months of lockdowns and virtual learning, many studios across the country are opening their doors and returning to in-person classes. Teachers and students alike have likely been chomping at the bit in anticipation of the return of dance-class normalcy that doesn't require a reliable internet connection or converting your living room into a dance space.

But along with the back-to-school excitement, dancers might be feeling rusty from being away from the studio for so long. A loss of flexibility, strength and stamina is to be expected, not to mention emotional fatigue from all of the uncertainty and reacclimating to social activities.

So as much as everyone wants to get back to normal—teachers and studio owners included—erring on the side of caution with your dancers' training will be the most beneficial approach in the long run.

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