Before wearing your shoes to a dance class for the first time, wear them at home for at least brief periods while you go about household chores. This can help you determine if the fit is comfortable and if there are any troublesome seams, buckles, or similar sources of irritation. You can also try out different socks to see which are most comfortable. Don’t try to make dance shoes last longer than they were meant to — older shoes may develop pressure points that can irritate the skin.
For dance styles that are typically performed barefoot, such as modern and African dance, wearing a flexible, breathable shoe or footings that conform to the soles of the feet are good options for protecting the feet. Footings are available at dance stores and some orthopedic shoe stores. If other students in the class are going barefoot, however, be sure to wear shoes or footings that you only wear indoors.
Socks worn inside dancing shoes provide extra cushioning and can prevent the friction that causes blisters. Socks made of cotton or wool blended with a wicking material that draws moisture away from the skin are your best bet for keeping feet dry and comfortable.
Be sure to inspect your feet after dancing for any signs of rubbing or pressure. If a callus or corn has developed, ask your doctor or podiatrist how to deal with it. Do not try to remove it with an over-the-counter liquid callus remover. Such products contain acid that can damage the skin.
People with diabetes are advised to clear their exercise plans with their doctor before beginning a formal or vigorous routine, and dancing is no exception. Once you have your doctor’s OK to dance, here are some other smart moves:
• If you’re taking a class, let your dance instructor know that you have diabetes and that there’s a chance you may need to take short breaks during classes to check your blood glucose or have a snack. If there’s a possibility that you may develop hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) during class, let your instructor know what your typical signs and symptoms are and what you do to treat it.
• Bring a water bottle with you to class so that you can stay hydrated while dancing.
• Wear medical jewelry that identifies you as a person with diabetes. This can help to ensure that you receive the appropriate treatment more quickly in the event of a medical emergency.
The same general precautions apply when attending a social dance: wear medical ID, and bring your meter, glucose tablets or snacks to raise your blood glucose if necessary, and a bottle of water.
Locating dance opportunities
Most communities have at least some opportunities to take dance lessons or attend social dances. To start locating them, try looking in the phone book or online for a local dance studio. Many colleges, YMCAs, universities, and community centers also offer dance classes. Fitness centers and municipal parks and recreation facilities are other possibilities. Another way to locate lessons, dances, or organized dance groups is to type the style of dance you are looking for into an Internet search engine such as Google or a Web site such as www.meetup.com. (Click here to learn more about dancing in a chair or wheelchair if you have limited mobility, balance concerns, or other special considerations.)
If you’re not sure you want to sign up for several weeks of classes, ask if you can observe a class or pay to take a sample class. Social dances often provide a short, free lesson covering the basic steps of the style before the dancing starts. This is another good way to try new types of dance before committing to a series of lessons.