This Is What Ballerinas Use To Soothe Their Sore And Tired Feet

These professional dancers swear by arthritis relief gels, epsom salt soaks and massage guns — and we could all learn a thing or two from them.
A Theragun Mini percussive massage gun, arnica pain relief gel and Dr. Teal's pure epsom salts.
A Theragun Mini percussive massage gun, arnica pain relief gel and Dr. Teal's pure epsom salts.

When I first started dancing ballet, I quickly become accustomed to the occasional foot pain and soreness. Even without spending hours in class performing yet another sequence of relevés on pointe, foot discomfort is a commonly felt wrench in the day-to day-lives of dancers and non-dancers alike.

For this reason, I thought, who better than to ask professional ballet dancers with much more knowledge and experience than I about the ways to soothe sore and battered feet?

I messaged with Kate Inoue, company dancer for the Los Angeles Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Madison Rayn Abeo to learn more about their foot care routines, which feature everything from myofascial release sticks to compressive massage boots and much more.

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A myofasical release massage stick
Los Angeles Ballet company dancer Kate Inoue said she uses this spindle roller massager especially on the arches of her feet, along tired calves and even the tops of her thighs. Myofasical release sticks like this can provide targeted muscle therapy and reduce pain by improving blood and lymphatic circulation as well as relaxing and stretching contracted muscles.
Pain-relieving arnica gel
Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist Madison Rayn Abeo regularly applies arnica gel, a kind of plant-based and homeopathic topical medicine that can temporarily relieve muscle pain and stiffness, swelling and bruising caused by minor injuries or just general overexertion. This popular non-greasy formula quickly absorbs into skin and leaves behind a pleasant cooling sensation.
A popular arthritis pain relief ointment
Another topical pain reliever that Abeo swears by is Voltaren, a highly rated anti-inflammatory gel that is a non-steroidal and hydrating formula that imparts a cooling sensation when applied. Abeo said she will apply Voltaren, then roll her foot on a hard ball, such as a golf ball, to work the muscles and reduce stiffness.
A mini percussive massage gun
"The Theragun Mini is a device that has kind of a punching motion," Inoue said. "I use it for my full body but especially feet and legs."

This popular gadget features all the same percussive therapy power as the full-size Theragun, but packed into a more compact version that can make it easier to target smaller areas like the arches of the feet, tops of the ankles and the calves. It reaches 16 mm into the muscle and features advanced sound insulation for an ultra-quiet performance. Users can choose from three attachments and three speeds.

Another tip from Inoue if percussive massagers don't work for you is simply laying on the ground and placing your legs up against a wall to reduce pressure or swelling in the feet.
Essential oil-infused epsom salts
Both Abeo and Inoue said that they regularly opt for epsom salt soaks when necessary, and Dr. Teal's in particular for Abeo. Available in a number of sizes and a variety of essential oil infusions, this classic soaking solution can help ease aches and soreness from muscle pains using its mineral-rich formula.
A protective liquid bandage for blisters
When Inoue first started training in pointe shoes, she often dealt with painful blisters and corns. To help treat these and ensure she was prepared for the next day of class, she would apply New Skin liquid bandage on the affected areas after an epsom salt soak. Although you might not earn a foot full of blisters like a professional dancer would, we've all worn shoes that have rubbed uncomfortably, leading to blisters. This protective liquid shield creates a flexible and waterproof seal that can protect compromised skin from infection.
A pair of compression massage boots
"My compression boots massage my feet and calves using air and they squeeze my muscles, which feels really good," Inoue said. "After a long day, I usually use them on the highest setting and it makes me feel refreshed and ready for the next day."

We found this highly rated pair of compression boots that feature three operation modes and three intensities combined with 10 professional massage programs that mimic the real feeling of human hands. These rechargeable, cordless boots claim to reduce leg and foot swelling, relieve pain and improve circulation with regular use.
A pack of golf balls
According to Inoue, a golf ball is one of the best tools when it comes to caring for her feet. "I step on it and roll it around to massage the soles," she said. This affordable tool is made with a titanium core so it's hard and durable enough to work into the stiff muscles along the bottom of the feet and offer targeted relief.
A foot roller
Another foot massaging device Inoue suggested is this wooden foot roller, a portable and affordable device that simply works by rolling your foot along the ridged center. This tool can help relieve tension in the arches and the ball of the foot.

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