Dancing in High Heels

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by pygmalion, Nov 15, 2003.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Here's one for the ladies. Do you have a preference of heel height for your dance shoes? Why? (Obviously, I have an agenda in asking, and lots of points to contribute, but I'll do it later in the thread! :lol: )
  2. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    like your Christmas list ???? ;)

    :lol:

    Of course I'm not much of a heels gal which works out really well with dancing Lindy I think. I mean, I suppose you could dance lindy in heels... but I wouldn't recommend it-- I'm never sure what's going to be lead ... some pretty crazy stuff sometimes. Maybe all I'd need is practice... but that's when a lack of desire comes into play.

    I can walk on stilts... even dance in them (not lindy-- at least I've never tried) but high heels are a different matter!! How do you do it!!??
  3. redhead

    redhead New Member

    Interesting. What's on your list?
    Here's my scrambled thoughts.
    I never dance in heels under 2.5. I practice ballroom in 3 inch heels; it took time to get used to them after 2.5, because balance is a little different. It made me think: if .5 inch makes a difference, why do ladies even use practice shoes? Is it the reason why I see beautiful dancing at the studio and not-so-great competition performance?
    Leg line is sooooooo much nicer in high heels :p
    Doesn't holding your weight mostly on the balls of your feet make you faster and more precise?
    For salsa, for me there's no difference between 2, or 2.5, or 3, or 3.5 (3.5 are not dancing shoes, just a nice pair of strappy sandals). There isn't much techique for salsa, afterall. It's just that I love dresses and wear them going out about 98% of the time; flats just won't do.
    I'd love to get a pair of dance sneakers, though, to wear with jeans. What do you think of those?
  4. Swing Kitten

    Swing Kitten New Member

    I would imagine that heels would limit my dancing. I would miss that dynamic between my toes and my ankles... If for some reason I wanted to go up on my toes I couldn't because I'd already be there... plus doesn't it hurt? I would think that it would.

    I'm sure it's different for the majority of the ballroom dances and yes they do look beautiful... even sexy.
  5. Dancegal

    Dancegal Member

    I have 2" heels I use for salsa dancing and am comfortable with them; however, when wearing these same shoes for swing, they do not seem to work quite as well. For Lindy, I prefer flat shoes - I like to slide and can't quite slide on heels. At best, the heels are OK for basic 6-count swing or basic WCS. I like the sexy look of higher heels; however, my feet will not allow it :-(, (ouch).
  6. salsachinita

    salsachinita New Member

    For salsa, I need some heels. At least 2.5, no more than 3. The heels need to be solid for me, coz I CAN'T (and WON'T) walk in stiletto type heels :!:

    I used to get dance shoes but in recent years have discovered that some fashion shoes are even better! I LOVE my solid wedge (almost platform) open (but never strappy) shoes. (CLOGS...! As one guy nick named them!)

    Love the idea of dance sneakers, but found the lack of heels hard to get used to......and there's too much 'grip' to allow for sliding on the floor.
  7. Giselle

    Giselle New Member

    I WILL only dance in heels for latin. Helps with weight placement, love the suede bottoms, lovely lines. 2.5 is my limit, because I am 5'7" as it is. For me, stiletto heels are important because they allow movement in the arches and allow easier pointing of the toes when striking a pose. :lol:
  8. Mich

    Mich New Member

    heel height

    I agree with the comment about weight placement, it's easier to dance salsa and other dances with the weight balanced on the balls of your feet.

    But I usually wear 1 1/2 Cuban heels because higher heels make the neuroma in my left foot worse (esp during rise and fall); at 2 1/2 inch and 3 inches I sometimes exhibit a wobble, esp on turns; and the higher heels shorten and tighten my calf muscles.

    As a runner and a dancer, I try to stay in the DNS (Do Nothing Stupid) zone, even if the line is not as attractive. It's more attractive than limping.

    Thanks for all the good comments. As a newcomer I always find good tips in this forum.
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hi Mich! :D Thanks for your post, and welcome the forums. :D

    I was wondering if anyone to get to talking about the connection between heel height and foot health. Bunions, bruises, etc. anyone? Any preventative measures?
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    One thing I noticed with the high heels is that I couldn't wear them, period, until I understood what forward poise meant. As long as my weight was over my heels, I kept fighting the shoes (which were trying to keep my weight forward) and losing my balance.
  11. Sarah

    Sarah New Member

    I wear 2.5 in heels for salsa - I have short feet and anything higher produces an impossible angle between my foot and leg. I find that as long as the shoe fits well wether its a dance shoe or a fashion shoe I don't have any health problems. I also wear mostly flats or bare feet for everyday which stops problems with shortened tendons and muscles.
    I wore flats when I did swing lessons.
    Things that I look for in a shoe are
    1) wether the shoe sole bends easily in the right place - just behind the ball of the foot. If it doesn't I end up fighting the shoe even to walk easily. I will pick up a shoe, try to bend it, and if it won't bend I don't even try it on.
    2) wether the shoe allows the foot to expand naturally across the top just behind the toes - this is part of the shock absorbtion of the foot and leg, and if it is prevented this has to be compensated for by the calves and ankles. Ouch and double ouch the next morning. This goes equally for heels and flats.
    3) wether the shoe will attach firmly to my foot. When you're standing balanced on stilettos you realy don't want to slide sideways unexpectedly, as that is the way to broken or wrenched ankles, and ignominious landings on ones butt. I prefer a closed heel and anklestrap, but some arangements of strappy sandle are fine. Others are truely hopeless.

    Also, bunions and so forth are not instantaneous - there will be some precursor symptoms that is to say - pain. If the shoe hurts - don't wear it! Not even if it is really cute and you paid a lot of money for it!

    Cheers
    Sarah
  12. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I think someone in this thread mentioned practice shoes as in, why wear them? Good point, becase the 0.5 to 0.75 inch difference in heel height is like night and day with respect to my feelings of balance. However, I wear them because they're wider in the toe box. Much more comfortable and safer for long term wear. Typical court shoes and Latin shoes have a very narrow toe box and/or constrictive straps. Without the space to spread your toes, the foot tends to deform over time. Hello bunions, somewhere down the line. :shock: If I have a performance coming up, a couple weeks in advance, I'll start breaking in my fancy shoes.

    Like you, Sarah, I also like to wear sneaks, flat sandals, flats, or bare feet pretty much all the time when I'm not dancing, to rest my feet and stretch my tendons.
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Oh yeah, and another question: does anybody use orthotics, pads, cushions, insoles, gels, etc. to work around foot pain and/or prevent problems? If so, what works for you?
  14. foursquare

    foursquare New Member

    I did the Rocky Horror Show (the stage version) about a year ago. I had two pairs of shoes; the pair in the first act and beginning of the second act had 6 inch heals, and then I switched to 7 inch heals for the rest of the show.

    While it's possible to dance everything in shoes like that, it took at least 3 weeks after the show closed for my feet to feel anything close to normal again (e.g. blisters went away, it didn't feel like the bones in the balls of my feet were grinding into each other, etc. I don't know how you chicks do it.) The balance and movement were fine... the discomfort was downright intolerable.

    So, you chicks out there swing dancing in your heals... is it a discomfort you just put up with for the look, or is it different for you (narrower feet than I guy, etc.) and you are actually comfortable (shudder.)

    foursquare
  15. ballroomboilergirl

    ballroomboilergirl New Member

    I have three different shoes I use for ballroom: one pair of 3" straight heels for Latin, one pair of 2.5" flared heels for Latin, a pair of 2.5" straight heeled court shoes for smooth/standard. I practice in the 3" straight heels for both latin and smooth until two weeks before I compete, at which time I switch to the 2.5" Latin and Smooth shoes for the respective styles.

    To me, practicing in 3" heels in much like how professional cyclists train up in the mountains before a race: if you practice in a way that is a lot harder than actual competition, once you get to competition, it'll be a piece of cake. I used to practice in jazz boots, until one of the more advanced members of my team basically told me to "cut it out" because I would never get used to my ballroom shoes and would be all types of uncomfortable when it came time to compete. He was right - I have watched girls suffer through wearing heels at practice and do beautifully at competitions and the girls who breezed through practice in sneakers or jazz boots make complete fools of themselves.

    I actually enjoy practicing in heels now because it definitely enhances your line and makes your legs look KILLER, especially when you're wearing a skirt...plus I'm a die-hard girlie-girl and feel ultra-sexy in a pair of good heels :wink:

    However, I have noticed a marked difference between flared and straight heels...flared heels will give you a lot more support than straight ones, but I have also found that they tend to slow down your turns a bit. I guess its a trade-off...you have to decide whether you would rather have the support and have to work harder at your turns or would rather have better turns and less support.

    This is not to say that heels are a walk in the park to carry off...ohhhh boy, hell hath no fury like a woman who has been dancing for three hours straight in 3" latin shoes. My feet used to be my favorite part of my body (well, I guess they still are) but now they are covered in blisters and callouses and aren't the most attractive things to look at. I soak my feet in hot water twice a week and ice them once a week, and I slather them with Burt's Bee's Coconut Foot Creme and cover them with cotton socks before going to bed (I highly recommend this, it heals your feet really well). Usually the balls of my feet feel like they're on FIRE from all the pressure. On top of that, my metatarsals (the long bones in the middle of your foot) are always sore and stiff the next morning, and my ankles and calves often ache as well...my mom worries about my feet and tells me I should go to a podiatrist, but I know they'll only tell me to stop dancing in heels (fat chance). The faculty advisor for my team has been dancing for 8 years and as a results has a permanently deformed little toe and arthritic ankles. All of the doctors that have looked at her feet have told her to stop dancing or she might have to have surgery when she's older, but she just keeps dancing like there's no problem whatsoever...now THAT is dedication.

    I haven't used halter pads or insoles yet because a lot the people on my team really don't (I think halter pads in particular fall into the same category as practicing in jazz boots...its almost "cheating", lol), but it seems as though they would relieve a considerable amount of stress from the ball of the foot. Does anyone else use them? What do you think about them?
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    :shock: Six or seven inch heels? Yikes! I don't know if it's possible to be comfortable in them. But I have worn three-and-a-half to four inch heels all day long (in the past, before I stopped caring LOL!). Yes, they can be comfortable, but it has more to do with the cut of the shoe and the way it's balanced. I'm not talking dance shoes now, although this probably still applies. But I can buy shoes from a certain manufacturer and be comfortable on high heels all day, or buy shoes from a different manufacturer and be uncomfortable on high heels all day. A lot depends on how the shoes are made.
  17. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Try the halter pads. How can that be cheating? If nobody sees them, hey. Nobody's the wiser. :D I have them in all my shoes. I had a really bad couple of months with a bruised toenail caused by five- to six- hour days of dancing with my feet sliding forward all the time (2 to 3 inch heels, btw). Agony! The halter pads really help. I hadn't thought about the ball of the foot much, but my toes thank me every day. :lol: :D
  18. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    What are halter pads?

    I have a big toenail problem on both feet (ingrown nail, nerve irritation....). If I wear latin shoes, and even though they aren't that high as I'm a guy, my big toe gets extra pressure all night and after an hour my toes are on fire. Ballroom / street shoes are fine though...would halter pads help if I wear latin ballroom shoes?

    Virgilio
  19. ballroomboilergirl

    ballroomboilergirl New Member

    Halter pads are these special adhesive foam pads that stick in your shoes to keep your toes from sliding too far forward when you dance. Here's an example:

    http://danceshopper.com/accessories3.aspx?itemid=Tacco Halter Cushion

    I personally have never used them so I can't really give you much of an opinion on them...but I have really only heard of women using them (since our toes are more prone to slippage than men's are) pygmalion, can you answer this one? [/url]
  20. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I don't know for sure that they will help, but it's certainly worth a try. They saved my life, meaning, took the pressure off my toenail (big toe) enough to allow the toenail to heal. It took a while to heal, but I felt the relief of pressure immediately. BTW, I got my halter pads at the shoe repair shop for $3.50.

    I also know several other women who swear by them. I figure, for a less that $4 investment, it's worth a try. Also, from what I've heard, there's a relatively minor outpatient foot surgery to relieve the ingrown toenail problem. If the pain is excruciating, you might want to talk to your podiatrist.

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