How to master your foot arch for ballet

As dancers it is a good idea to know about the neuropathy of feet and the different types and shapes of feet. Unfortunately very few of us have perfect ballet dancing feet, but we can strengthen and work towards the ideal.

The foot is very intricate indeed and your two feet have one forth of all the bones in your entire body. The human foot alone has 20 muscles, 3 arches, 26 bones, 24 ligaments, 33 joints and around 7 800 nerves. The force of the body weight taken on by feet is about 1½ times during walking and up to 3-4 times during running. Add in 10,000 steps during a typical day while wearing ill-fitted shoes possibly, and it’s a wonder that those poor feet are still working so hard for you.

If you have any sort of foot pain, you would do well to learn a bit more about the workings of your foot and the different types and shapes of feet.

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Types and Shapes of Ballet Dancing Feet

1. Giselle or Peasant Foot Type

This foot type has three short, stubby toes that are almost the same length. This type of foot is ideal for dancers and especially ballet dancers, as it is usually strong and perfect for balance en pointe.

2. Flat Foot Type

This type of foot is strong and functions normally in most cases, but it is not a pretty foot for dancing purposes. The arches tend to drop inwards and calluses often develop on the side of the big toe. Also the fallen arches usually create problems for a dancer as the whole alignment of the body is affected. People with these types of feet usually suffer with knee, hip and back pain, as well as metatarsal stress fractures, Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.

3. Greek or Morton’s Foot

The Greek foot has a gap between the big toe and the second toe, making it an easy foot type to identify. The second toe is also normally longer than all the other toes. Unfortunately this foot is quite unstable, and people with this foot type suffer with quite a few foot ailments. Some of them include calluses, bunions, plantar fascitis, Morton’s neuroma and stress fractures.

4. Egyptian Foot

Egyptian feet are narrow with a longer big toe. The rest of the toes taper down from longest to shortest. This type of foot gives the least problems and is the ideal foot type to own.

5. Simian Foot

In this type of foot, the big toe leans towards the little toe. With this type of foot is is easier to get bunions, so try to avoid wearing pointed and narrow shoes. Ladies with Simian foot, will find high heels quite painful.

6. Rothbarts Foot

The Rothbarts foot is a genetic and abnormal type of foot. You know you have it if you put your foot on the ground in a neutral position, and your big toe and second toe cannot lie flat. This type of foot leads to bad posture.

Everyone should know what type and shape of foot they are, just as they know what blood type they are. Then you will be more aware of what types of problems can occur and why. For instance, if your knees hurt, it may stem from the way you are holding your feet, and nothing actually being wrong with your knees.

Trusting that this article on types and shapes of ballet dancing feet has helped somebody. Please feel free to comment below.

Introduction: Ballet Feet Exercises

How to master your foot arch for ballet

How to master your foot arch for ballet

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Hello again! Welcome to my fifth instructable.
Today, I am going to show you some feet exercises to strengthen your arches for ballet.
You should do these daily to achieve maximum results.
If your arches are very flexy and not strong enough, then going En Pointe can be very dangerous.
Weak feet and too much foot flexibility can actually cause you roll over your box!
Remember that you can not actually change the shape of your arch without surgery.
You can only make your arches more flexible and strengthen them.

I am only twelve years old, so if you have any suggestions on how to make my instructable better, comment down below. If you have a certain instructable you want me to do, comment down below, I would appreciate it so much. Now enough talking, on with the instructable!

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

What you will need for these exercises is:

A hand towel or small exercise towel

A foot roller or tennis ball

Step 2: Exercise Number 1

Start in sixth position (feet together, parallel).

Lift it up to demi-pointe, gently stretch it over.

Bring it back to demi-pointe, and back down into sixth position.

Repeat on the other foot.

Continue alternating feet until you have done it 40 times (20 for each foot).

Step 3: Exercise Number 2

Grab your roller.

You want to roll your foot from your metatarsals (I am pointing it to it in photo one), to the front of the heel (I am pointing to it in photo two).

Make sure you roll your foot on the inside, outside, and everything in between!

Do this on each foot for a minute.

Attachments

Step 4: Exercise Number 3

Point your foot and lift it off the ground.

Then circle it inwards ten times while pointing your foot.

Flex your toes and circle them outwards ten times.

Do this on each foot.

Attachments

Step 5: Exercise Number 4

Start in sixth position.

Slide your foot out to demi-pointe, and point it completely.

Take it back to demi-pointe, and slide it back in to sixth.

Repeat ten times on each foot.

Attachments

Step 6: Exercise Number 5

Place the balls of your foot onto the edge of your towel.

Pull your toes in, but try to keep them flat.

They will curl under a little, just try to wait until the very last second before letting them curl under.

Feel that squeeze.

Do this for about thirty seconds on each foot.

Attachments

Step 7: Exercise Number 6

Start in demi-pointe.

Push off the ground, fully pointing your foot.

Bring it back down to demi-pointe.

Do the same on the other foot.

Do this for a minute, alternating feet.

Attachments

Step 8: Exercise Number 7 (Last Exercise)

Do the same thing you did with the towel, except without the towel!

Do ten on each foot.

Attachments

Step 9: Do Them Every Day

These will strengthen and stretch your feet.

I will post an instructable on theraband exercises soon.

In case you don’t know what those are, they are basically long rubber bands.

They come in different strengths: easy, medium, and hard.

Thank you for checking out my instructable!

Be the First to Share

Did you make this project? Share it with us!

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3 Comments

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Hey there! I really do like this instructable of yours, and I noticed we practically have the same feet! (as in arches and insteps,) But anyways, to my real question, do you have any stretches for instep? I was just wondering if you do have them and I was just blind.

How to master your foot arch for ballet

You seem to have a talent for presenting and explaining the unusual and engrossing, keep ’em coming. ☺

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Reply 3 years ago

Haha! Thank you! If you have any suggestions on how to make my instructables better, just let me know.

Introduction: Ballet Feet Exercises

How to master your foot arch for ballet

How to master your foot arch for ballet

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Hello again! Welcome to my fifth instructable.
Today, I am going to show you some feet exercises to strengthen your arches for ballet.
You should do these daily to achieve maximum results.
If your arches are very flexy and not strong enough, then going En Pointe can be very dangerous.
Weak feet and too much foot flexibility can actually cause you roll over your box!
Remember that you can not actually change the shape of your arch without surgery.
You can only make your arches more flexible and strengthen them.

I am only twelve years old, so if you have any suggestions on how to make my instructable better, comment down below. If you have a certain instructable you want me to do, comment down below, I would appreciate it so much. Now enough talking, on with the instructable!

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

What you will need for these exercises is:

A hand towel or small exercise towel

A foot roller or tennis ball

Step 2: Exercise Number 1

Start in sixth position (feet together, parallel).

Lift it up to demi-pointe, gently stretch it over.

Bring it back to demi-pointe, and back down into sixth position.

Repeat on the other foot.

Continue alternating feet until you have done it 40 times (20 for each foot).

Step 3: Exercise Number 2

Grab your roller.

You want to roll your foot from your metatarsals (I am pointing it to it in photo one), to the front of the heel (I am pointing to it in photo two).

Make sure you roll your foot on the inside, outside, and everything in between!

Do this on each foot for a minute.

Attachments

Step 4: Exercise Number 3

Point your foot and lift it off the ground.

Then circle it inwards ten times while pointing your foot.

Flex your toes and circle them outwards ten times.

Do this on each foot.

Attachments

Step 5: Exercise Number 4

Start in sixth position.

Slide your foot out to demi-pointe, and point it completely.

Take it back to demi-pointe, and slide it back in to sixth.

Repeat ten times on each foot.

Attachments

Step 6: Exercise Number 5

Place the balls of your foot onto the edge of your towel.

Pull your toes in, but try to keep them flat.

They will curl under a little, just try to wait until the very last second before letting them curl under.

Feel that squeeze.

Do this for about thirty seconds on each foot.

Attachments

Step 7: Exercise Number 6

Start in demi-pointe.

Push off the ground, fully pointing your foot.

Bring it back down to demi-pointe.

Do the same on the other foot.

Do this for a minute, alternating feet.

Attachments

Step 8: Exercise Number 7 (Last Exercise)

Do the same thing you did with the towel, except without the towel!

Do ten on each foot.

Attachments

Step 9: Do Them Every Day

These will strengthen and stretch your feet.

I will post an instructable on theraband exercises soon.

In case you don’t know what those are, they are basically long rubber bands.

They come in different strengths: easy, medium, and hard.

Thank you for checking out my instructable!

Be the First to Share

Did you make this project? Share it with us!

Recommendations

How to master your foot arch for ballet

How to master your foot arch for ballet

How to master your foot arch for ballet

How to master your foot arch for ballet

STEM Contest

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Gardening Challenge

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Trash to Treasure Contest

How to master your foot arch for ballet

3 Comments

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Hey there! I really do like this instructable of yours, and I noticed we practically have the same feet! (as in arches and insteps,) But anyways, to my real question, do you have any stretches for instep? I was just wondering if you do have them and I was just blind.

How to master your foot arch for ballet

You seem to have a talent for presenting and explaining the unusual and engrossing, keep ’em coming. ☺

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Reply 3 years ago

Haha! Thank you! If you have any suggestions on how to make my instructables better, just let me know.

Published: 17 August, 2011

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Ballet dancers appreciate the importance of maintaining strong, supple feet and they typically value high, flexible arches. Dancers subject their arches to tremendous pressure; they must be sufficiently pliable to absorb the shock of endless jumps and work en pointe. While it is wise to include arch stretches in your overall dance conditioning program, be sure to choose sensible exercises that help to prevent – rather than invite – injury.

Stretch Manually

One way to stretch the arches of your feet is to take a manual approach. Begin by seating yourself comfortably in a strong chair and resting one foot across the opposite thigh. Taking the working foot in both hands, apply gentle pressure to the top of the toes to stretch the bony arch of the foot. Release your grip and attempting to maintain the position of the foot. The manual stretching technique allows you to gauge and fully control the amount of pressure you apply to the arch, which is a key safety consideration.

Work Through Your Foot

You can also stretch your arches safely using familiar ballet exercises at the ballet barre. Learn to consciously work through your feet, holding your point when the arch is at its peak. Begin by facing the barre with your heels together and your feet in a turned-out first position. Lightly grasp the barre with both hands, engage your core muscles and lift up from your center to allow greater freedom of movement in the working leg. Working the right foot first, slowly tendu — or slide — the foot to the side, keeping the entire underside of the foot on the floor as long as possible. Continue to slide the foot, pressing the ball of your foot into the floor as your heel lifts up. Slide the foot still further, keeping the big toe on the floor as the ball of the foot lifts up. Take a complete 32 counts to arrive at a fully stretched foot. When your arch is lifted as much as possible, hold the stretch for 4 counts. You can then reverse the direction of the foot, slowly working back through the metatarsal as you slide the foot back to first position. Repeat 8 times on the right before switching to the left.

Use an Elastic Band

Elastic bands are inexpensive, convenient to transport and easy to use safely. Before beginning, conduct a safety check to ensure that your band has no holes or tears. Seat yourself on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and your spine lifted. Working one foot at a time, loop the band around the bottom of the foot and grasp the ends of the band in both hands. Starting in a flexed position with the toes pointing upward, slowly and deliberately articulate through the foot. Using the band as resistance, press the ball of the foot and then the toes away from your body and into the band. When you reach a fully pointed position, hold for 5 seconds before reversing the direction of your foot. To reverse, pull back your toes and then the metatarsal until the foot is fully flexed. You can repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times before working the other foot.

Extreme Measures

Megan Richardson, a certified athletic trainer and clinical specialist at the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries, warns dancers about the dangers inherent in extreme stretching techniques. She points out that tucking the feet under a low couch or piano, as some dancers do, places undue stress on the bony arches of the foot and can lead to injury. According to instructor Dana Hanson, it is also wise to avoid mechanical devices designed to stretch the arch. Hanson concludes that such devices take control away from the dancer, preventing her from adequately gauging how much pressure she is applying to her arches. Hanson notes that extreme stretching techniques such as these can lead to overstretching, which can strain the tops of your feet.

February 12, 2013 by Lauren Warnecke

Your feet impact your dance technique.

In Part 1 of this series on the feet I gave an overview of general foot care and maintenance, with specific attention given to the toes.

Now let’s take a deeper look at the mid-foot and ways to keep your feet strong, even in the off-season!

Arches of the foot

How to master your foot arch for ballet

We often refer to dancers as having “high arches,” “low arches,” or “flat feet.” The way the middle portion of the foot is shaped can greatly impact a dancer’s technique and alignment.

Instead of thinking as the arch as just one “thing,” you can actually draw four arches along the foot. Their fancy anatomical names are: Medial longitudinal, lateral longitudinal, anterior metatarsal and transverse.

The two longitudinal arches span the length of the foot, from the heel to the head of the metatarsals at the base of your toes. Medial indicates the pass toward the midline of the body over the great toe, and lateral passes along the outer edge of the foot from the heel to the fifth (pinky) toe.

A weak lateral longitudinal arch contributes to sickling and supination, while a weak or flattened medial longitudinal arch leads to pronation. Conversely, a dancer with a pronounced medial longitudinal arch (commonly referred to as a high arch) may also roll to the outside of the foot (supination).

The metatarsal arch spans the five metatarsal bones, and the transverse arch reaches across the lower ankle from the cuboid bone to the internal (or first) cuneform. This arch essentially mirrors the elastic on a ballet slipper. Both are used in stability and balance, particularly en releve.

From the bottom up…

Failing to pay close attention to the use of the foot can become the cause of a number of injuries.

Improper alignment of the foot in relevés and landings from jumps can lead to two of the most common dance injuries: ankle sprain and fifth metatarsal fracture (so common, in fact, that it is also referred to as the Dancers’ Fracture).

Poor alignment of the foot and arch can also weaken the ligaments that connect its many bones. A result of this can include a “fallen” arch – permanent loss of flexibility and lift in the longitudinal arches – along with a host of secondary conditions such as tendonitis, stress fractures, and integumentary (skin and nail) problems.

Because of the continual impact requested of the feet in dance, fallen arches or improper technique at this part of the body can also impact the entire alignment of the body and contribute to acute or chronic injury at the ankle, knee, hip, and/or back.

Dancers and instructors have mutual responsibility in understanding and being diligent in correcting the alignment of the feet, and building strong muscles to support the arches.

How to build strong feet:

Outside of class, there are a few exercises you can do at home to maintain and keep improving the strength in your feet. I would highly suggest investing in a theraband to assist you with these exercises, but you can also use a towel or just do them without any resistance:

  1. Point and flex: Sitting on the floor, pointe and flex your feet slowly with the theraband around the top half of your foot.
  2. Pick up the wash cloth: Sitting on a chair (or the sofa), place a small towel or washcloth on the ground and try to pick it up with just your toes. Check out this video from dancer Nikki White.
  3. Toe Sit-ups: pointe your toe and just lift the toes up and then back to pointe. Repeat 12 times, rest, and repeat to more sets of 12. Check out this great article from Nichelle including a video on how to do toe sit-ups.
  4. Ankle rolls: With a theraband, slowly roll your ankle outward 12 times and inward 12 times, articulating through the foot as much as possible. Rest and repeat two more times.
  5. For more ideas, visit this article from Chicago Dance Supply.

Let’s have some real talk here. If you didn’t come to pole from a dance background, having “point your toes” yelled at you as if you were in boot camp is a little intimidating.

Furthermore, it feels like you’re pointing your toes, right? This just doesn’t make any sense! What does “point your toes” really mean, how do you do it properly, and what about that beautiful ballet arch?

Today you’ll learn everything you need to know for a properly pointed foot. It’s true, getting that beautiful arch doesn’t just happen in a few minutes, or even a few days, but the first step is to learn how. Like other conditioning and flexibility exercises, it takes consistent effort.

What Does It Mean to Point Your Toes?

Despite the words, your toes have very little to do with the motion of a proper point. This is where many people get confused; they engage their toes, but nothing else.

Pointing your toes should engage the whole foot, not just the toes. In fact, you should feel it throughout the lower and mid-calf as well.

When you think about pointing your toes, think about how you would move if someone asked you to elongate, stretch, and point your hand. Would you clamp down so hard you had claws? No, typically, you’d reach out and extend your fingers out, starting with the palm and moving through the fingers. The whole hand would be engaged. Your feet are no different.

Unfortunately, unless you’ve practiced dance your whole life, you probably haven’t given your feet much of a thought before, and the bone structure of your foot will influence the shape of your point so you might not be able to curve your foot over itself to an extreme like some professional ballet dancers.

The good news is, however, is that ligaments and muscles in the lower leg and foot also plays an important role, so you can mobilize and strengthen your feet to achieve your own beautiful ballet dancer lines.

TIP: Would you be surprised to learn that not only does pointing your toes provide a stronger foundation for your body weight in general, but it also helps you grip the pole better? Sure, skin contact and various grip aids will help you stay on the pole, but your skin also grips better when the muscles underneath are actively engaged.

Improper Technique

Below are two examples of improper technique.

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Are you thinking of getting a new pair of athletic shoes? Be sure to check your arch type before you buy.

Not sure about your foot arch type? To find out, dip your foot in water. Then step on a piece of cardboard, and examine the print that remains. After examining the print, use the Determine Your Foot Arch chart.

NORMAL ARCH (MEDIUM)

If the middle part of your arch is about half filled, this means you have a normal arch. Your arch naturally supports your body weight and pronates (rolls in) under a normal load. Look for shoes with firm midsoles and straight to semi-curved lasts. Last refers to the shape of the sole and the footprint around which the shoe is built and moderate rear-foot stability.

How to master your foot arch for ballet

FLAT ARCH (LOW)

If your footprint looks like a complete foot, then you have a flat arch. Your foot probably rolls in (pronates) when you walk or run. Your low arches may contribute to muscle stress and joint problems. You could benefit from a walking shoe with a straight last and motion control to help stabilize your feet.

HIGH ARCH (LOW)

If you see little of your footprint, you likely have high arches. High arches may contribute to excessive strain on joints and muscles. Your feet may not absorb shock well, especially if you perform a lot of impact or jumping activities. When looking for a shoe, look for cushioning to compensate for your lack of natural shock absorption. A curved last also may help in some cases.

Most important of all, however, is comfort. Multiple studies have shown that there is no one best shoe or a particular foot type, and comfort and proper fit should be the main criteria you use when selecting new athletic shoes.

How to master your foot arch for ballet

Dancing en pointe requires tremendous strength in the feet and ankles. If your ballet teacher has not graduated you to pointe shoes, it may be because you do not have enough strength in your feet. Trust your teacher’s knowledge and work on building your muscles.

If you are new to pointe work, use these tips to help increase your strength.

To Strengthen the Feet

Basic ballet exercises, particularly those done at the barre, are great preparation for your work in pointe shoes. Every small movement from a closed position to an open position helps strengthen the sole of the foot.

Remember to use the floor as resistance. The harder you press your foot into the floor, the stronger the resistance. The next time you perform a tendu or a rond de jambe series at the barre, try pressing the sole of your foot harder into the floor. Really concentrate on using the floor as resistance.

You can also strengthen your feet using a flat resistance band tied in a loop. Practice pointing and flexing your feet against the resistance of the band.

It can also be beneficial to roll out and stretch your foot muscles on a ball or roller. Spend more time shoeless, too.

To Strengthen the Ankles

Rising to full pointe from the floor will strengthen the ankles tremendously. Standing in the first position, perform several relevés beginning and ending in a plié. Then try several é levés beginning and ending with straight legs.

Next, try standing on one foot with the other foot in coupé in back. In this position, perform several relevés and é levés, then repeat on the other side. The slower you rise, the harder it is and the more strength you will build in your ankles.

In the gym, you can also try standing calf raises with weights or in high repetition to build your calf muscles, which will contribute to stronger ankles.

Improve mobility and build strength (and control) in your ankles by imagining you are writing the letters of the alphabet with your toes. The various angles and patterns will work your ankles in a wide range of beneficial ways.