The lower the heel is in relation to the toes in footwear decreases the risk of injury. Strengthening the body’s core, distributing the body’s weight while landing, and having proper nutrition and enough sleep also help, according to Dreher.
‘I have to choose between my health and the crowd’
As Druex Sidora, 28-year-old Delonte Simpkins of Bladensburg is one of the most daring performers in the region, doing flips, running splits and death drops in 6-inch stiletto heels.
“Momma likes a little height,” he said with a laugh.
Simpkins has been dancing for more than 20 years and was named Best Dancing Queen of Baltimore 2021 for the Baltimore Drag Awards.
“Being a dancing queen, everyone is expecting you to do the tricks — and more,” said Simpkins. “Do they pay more? Absolutely. Can this put your body in danger? Absolutely. I have to choose between my health and the crowd.”
Simpkins hurls his body into the air and lands in splits or bounces off his buttocks into a middle split. He’s avoided serious injury so far with practice and plenty of stretching.
Also, “I have a lot of body,” he said, explaining that the padding he wears gives him feminine curves but also absorbs the impact of landing. “I don’t really feel it. This Ikea cushion makes sure I don’t feel it. I do go home and take a few a good Epsom salt baths.”
Achieving a feminine look can also prove problematic. The use of heavy makeup, wig glue, artificial nails, tape, and other tools of the trade with chemicals put performers at risk for skin injuries and trauma, according to Sara Lamb, assistant professor in the department of dermatology at Johns Hopkins University.
“Repeated exposures could put you at risk,” she said. “Some allergens react with sun exposure, and intense light exposure. It can make the allergic reactions more pronounced.”