Ballet Pointe Shoes - Warming Up and Toe Nail Problem

Ballet Pointe Shoes - Warming Up and Toe Nail Problem

Dear Odette,
It has been a while since I last sought advice about ballet/dance. Since then, I have been pondering! Firstly, I happen to have a disastrous issue with my big toe nail - basically, it is falling off. The catastrophe is that I have a dance show on the 5th April 2014, where I have a pointe solo and pointe group dance. I haven't been able to go up in rehearsals because a) it is sore to put pressure on the big nail and b) my doctor strongly advised that i shouldn't be putting pressure on my big toe and I agree because I don't want there to be any more problems/infections to happen.
The situation with the nail is: I bruised it in October (from pointe work :S ) and thought nothing of it and didn't notice it at first then recently the nail rose from the bed and has formed a step. It looks horrible and the right side of the nail i can lift up and see underneath but the left side, the side closest to where my other toes are will not lift up. At the cuticle a new nail is forming.
What on earth should I do? I feel stressed because I don't want to be the only person who can't go en pointe and it would be so nice to do my solo en pointe. I'm afraid that the nail won't grow back in time and I will disappoint my co dancers and teachers.

Orla xxx Ooh and PS: What is THE best way of warming up effectively and efficiently before class/stretching?


Reply by Odette

To:- Ballet Pointe Shoes - Warming Up and Toe Nail Problem

Hi Orla,
Thank you for your message, I'm pleased to hear from you again even though I'm sorry you're in pain. You've taken the right actions so far by seeing the doctor and taking a rest from pointe work to heal your nail.

It can be common for ballet dancer's toe nails to fall off and usually there is a more tender nail growing underneath ready to replace it. I've only had my little toe nails fall off before, so since the toe is much smaller it didn't affect me as much and it wasn't painful.

For you, I think the big toe must have started to get irritated back in October, however it is good you have now acknowledged the problem and you have to be very careful now to make sure it heals.

I absolutely understand the worry you must feel about your performance and the pressure you may be putting on yourself to whether you will be able to do it or not. It is hard to say whether you will be ready, but remember I'm sure there will be plenty more performances for you in the future. I know, it may not feel like that right now, but the most important thing is your toe fully recovers so that it doesn't prolong how it heals in the long term.

I remember having a blister on my bunion bone when I was at ballet school. It was the time approaching our important appraisal exams and we were doing so much pointe work that it got slightly infected. I got very worried and had to limit my pointe work, but luckily the nurse found me some special seaweed (yes - seaweed!) which cured it enough for me to dance in the exam.

You still have a few weeks until the performance, but you have to make sure it is comfortable for your big toe and consider whether you are ready to dance on pointe again. Ballet dancers are always faced with situations like this, but it is up to you to keep your chin up and push through whatever the outcome!

I find the best warm up is doing a combination of strengthening and stretching exercises, like pilates and using my thera band/ resistant band for my feet. You can see this page for my feet exercise - Physical Therapy Equipment. As well as a short burst of cardio like running or skipping to get your heart going and muscles actively warm to dance.

Best wishes,

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