Ask Amy - Web Exclusive

Help! I have painful corns on both of my little toes that never seem to go away. They pinch every time I put on my pointe shoes. Is there anything I can do? —Farrah

Corns look similar to callouses, but are characterized by a hard, cone-shaped core that burrows into the skin and presses on superficial nerves. No wonder they hurt so much! They develop as a result of excessive friction and pressure, and are divided into two categories: soft, which occur between the toes and are more exasperated by moisture, and hard (the kind you’re experiencing), which develop on the tops and sides of toes.

 

Chronic, unrelenting corns are a sure-fire sign that your pointe shoes are too short, too narrow or too tapered, so make an appointment at your local dancewear store to get refitted. Try different sizes, box shapes and widths and examine the pressure points of each shoe. In the meantime, invest in some moleskin or foam/gel corn pads and start experimenting with ways to redistribute pressure. When I had a terrible corn on my big toe earlier this year, I placed strips of moleskin adjacent to it (not directly on top) to absorb the pressure of my shoe. If they’re not too irritated, gently file your corns down after a shower or bath, when the skin is softer. Avoid chemical corn removal liquids or pads—they can eat away at healthy skin and cause infections. If nothing seems to help, or if you suspect your corn is infected, make an appointment with a podiatrist.

Latest Posts


Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB

NYCB's Maria Kowroski Reflects on the Challenges, Joys and Mysteries of Balanchine’s "Mozartiana"

The first time I was called to learn Mozartiana, I didn't think I would actually get to do it. It's a coveted ballerina role in the company, and I was still early in my career. But I got to dance it once or twice, and then not again for many years. The ballet isn't in our repertoire that often, so each time we've performed it I've been at a different level as a person and as an artist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Ask Amy: How Can I Overcome My Fear of Pirouettes on Pointe?

I have a terrible fear of falling when doing turns on pointe. I sometimes cry in class when we have to do new turns that I'm not used to. I can only do bad singles on a good day, while some of my classmates are doing doubles and triples. How can I get over this fear? —Gaby

Keep reading SHOW LESS
xmb photography, Courtesy The Washington Ballet

The Washington Ballet's Sarah Steele on Her At-Home Workouts

Ballet at home: Since she's not preparing for any immediate performances, Steele takes ballet barre three to four times a week. "I'm working in more of a maintenance mode," she says, prioritizing her ankles and the intrinsic muscles in her feet. "If you don't work those muscles, they disappear really quickly. I've been focusing on a baseline level of ballet muscle memory."

What she's always working on: Strengthening her glute-hamstring connection (the "under-butt" area), which provides stability for actions like repetitive relevés and power for jumps. Bridges are her go-to move for conditioning those muscles. "Those 'basic food group'–type exercises are some of the best ones," she says.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks