Don’t Hurt Your Feet at the Barre (Class)

Working out in a turned-out releve can cause a foot injuryEvery year or so, a brand new fitness craze seems to sweep our country—CrossFit, PX90, SoulCycle—quickly picking up devoted fans and, unfortunately, leading to many foot injuries as new exercise devotees jump in to these intense workouts feet first, so to speak.

One of the latest workout trends that I’ve been noticing is barre-based, ballet inspired workouts like Xtend Barre. While these kinds of exercise programs tighten up your core and tone your muscles, if done wrong, they can lead to major foot injuries (I mean, have you looked at a ballerina’s feet recently? Google it; it ain’t pretty.)

As a Houston podiatrist, I see lots of sports and workout injuries in my office and, to be honest, I’d like to see a lot less. With that goal in mind, I’d like to share some stay-safe tips for barre enthusiasts, courtesy of Zayna Gold Elefteriadis, the founder of Boston Body Barre:

Stay low to avoid foot pain: Any barre workout involves lots of heel lifts, or relevés, but, as Zayna explains, “For many adults, holding a high relevé can cause foot pain. So instead, I recommend going into a ‘hover’ relevé, which is lower. You still get the same benefits, but your weight stays in the ball of the foot, which causes less strain.”

DON’T go barefoot: Though most barre instructors suggest doing class barefoot, you should consider wearing supportive sneakers or dance shoes, especially if you’re noticing foot pain. Even Zayna says, “I often wear them,” because years of barefoot workouts left her with terrible joint deterioration that forced her to undergo foot surgery.

Check your angles: Many moves in barre classes involve turnout, in which a hip rotation causes the knees and toes to point outward. Forcing yourself into an over-exaggerated turnout can cause foot pain, so, to stay safe, Zayna suggests, “Start your feet at a turnout of 45 degrees and then adjust it, either by less or more, to make your hips, knees, and ankles feel free from strain.” When you reach the point that’s right for you, any pain in those areas should stop hurting on the spot.

As always, these suggestions will only help prevent injury; they are not a foolproof way to stay safe. If you have suffered a foot injury while working out, schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider as soon as possible so you don’t keep exercising and make things worse. 

Dr. Andrew Schneider
Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.