Would you like to know how to achieve beautiful ballet feet? Do you wish to enhance your foot arch? Are you feeling most of the time frustrated because your feet flexibility is not improving? Don’t discourage yourself! Even if the ideal ballet foot has a high instep and a high arch you don’t necessarily need to have the banana foot shape in order to dance well and to prove that you’re a great dancer. Of course there are many things to take into account such as the strength and flexibility of your foot. Before we start to talk about what we can do in order to improve the foot arch, let’s discover what foot types and foot arches dancers can have:
There are 3 different foot types:
Greek foot is where the second toe is the longest toe in the foot. If you are on pointe, consider a longer pointe shoe so that the second toe can lie flat inside it and allow it to roll correctly from demi-pointe onto full pointe.
Giselle, Roman or Peasant foot is when the first three toes are more or less the same length and toes are usually shorter. This foot type is usually the best for an easy fit but the downside is that you would not be able to wear the beautiful pointe tapered shoe.
Egyptian foot has the big toes longer than the other toes. Having this foot shape can bring some benefits like being able to select the nicest looking pointe shoe but the downside is that the big toe will be under more pressure so a properly fitted shoe is essential.
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There are 3 different arch types:
Flat foot is the less aesthetically appealing foot and it is usually a weak foot. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved but it will need the execution of daily exercises in order to improve the strength and stability of your foot. Below you will find the most effective exercises to help you to strengthen and improve the arches of your foot.
Straight foot (also known as “cucumber” shape foot) is probably the stronger type of foot and even if it has a decent arch it lacks a good instep . Even if they don’t look as bendy as the high arches feet, with some good strengthening exercises they can be improved considerably. There are of course exercises you can do to get better in your instep and improve your overall alignment.
High arches are the most desired ballet foot from every ballet dancer as they look amazing in pointe shoes, Unfortunately they are not the perfect feet from every aspect as they are also often the weakest. I believe in my own experience that what makes the most beautiful feet is how you use them. For example if you have a nice bendy shaped banana foot and your foot, during the instep, is not turned out, not well articulated, strong and stretched then it will not matter even if you have the most beautiful gifted foot arch.
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What can I do to improve my foot arch?
There are many things you can do in order to improve your foot arch, instep and make your dance experience easier and more enjoyable.There are 34 joints and 26 bones in your foot and in order to have strong and healthy feet these joints have to work in harmony. But if you want to make significant progress it is very important to work not just your feet muscles and joints but also your calves and ankles.
Find below many effective ways to not just how to improve your foot suppleness but also how to keep it strong and healthy:
The first step before starting any kind of exercise that targets your foot arch flexibility and strength is to massage your feet with a foot roller or a ball which help loosen up the plantar fascia and relieve tension in the arches. This is also a great way to warm up the foot muscles to prepare them for jumps, pirouettes, etc. and avoid injuries. Lastly if you use different kinds of balls with various sizes and stiffness that can help massage and stretch different parts of your foot more effectively.
Pointing and flexing your feet is an effective way to build that arch that many dancers dream about. But if you point and flex your feet with a theraband, that can also improve the strength in your foot as by articulating it and from the way you use it, that can make considerable progress in your foot arch. Resistance training is a way to improve your overall strength and suppleness and allows you to execute better jumps, balance poses, beats, twisting movements by also being a safer dancer by minimising the risk of injury. The number of repetitions is determined by the dancer level and ability.
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Relevé is a crucial exercise in ballet and works your overall leg muscles, especially the calves and inner thighs. Dancers do this particular exercise daily and that is the result of their beautiful strong lean legs. Done properly the relevé teaches the dancer on how to engage the calves muscles and to promote a correct position of the foot’s arch over the toes. It is a great exercise to work your demi pointe and prepare you for pointe work strengthening your ankles, arches and all the other foot muscles.
Tendu (stretched) is not just an essential exercise in the classical ballet but it is a crucial exercise to shape your feet into the ideal ballet arched foot shape. It is a fundamental movement which strengthens the deepest muscles in your foot and promotes the correct position of the foot’s arch over the toes. It is also the preparation of more complex steps such as pirouettes or jumps like assemblés or grand jetés. Dancers spend a lot of hours to perfect this exercise as it is the key to achieve beautiful arches, a soft landing in your jumps and to prepare dancers for pointe work.
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A good exercise to stabilise your foot muscles and to increase your arch suppleness is the “towel scrunch” exercise. You can start this exercise either by standing up or sitting down but I personally found that doing it from a sitting down position it’s more effective as you can have a better view of your foot and can make sure that the movement is done correctly:
Start bare footed and place your foot on the edge of a hand towel, curl your toes like you want to pick up the towel off the floor and pull it towards you. Aim to fully stretch out your toes and keep the heel still whilst executing the movement. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions with each foot but if you feel that you could do more you can increase the number of repetitions. This exercise not only increases your overall foot strength but also improves your foot arch.
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Using your pointe shoe as a tool! This exercise is a really effective exercise to not only improve your arches by increasing the suppleness in your foot but also to improve its strength:
By standing next to the barre or a chair to use as a support, with your pointe shoes, cross one leg over the standing leg and apply pressure on the top of the foot, of the leg which is crossed over, into the floor. Do a slow plié in order to increase the stretch of the foot but watch that you don’t press too hard to avoid injuring your foot.
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