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Bendy Metatarsals and Sinking into Pointe


BalletBloch
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My DD has very, very bendy metatarsals. Her toes look as thought they are at 90 degrees to her feet when she points her feet (obviously they aren't, as that isn't possible but thats what it looks like!) yet her ankles aren't very bendy the bump on top of her foot (the arch/instep maybe?!) is quite low down.

 

This causes her to 'sink' into her pointe shoes and almost create a 'claw-like' shape with her foot. Has anyone else had experience of this? and is there anything she can do to improve it?

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hey BalletBloch

 

i have strong feet when i'm on pointe and my pointe shoes don't last long at all (maybe 1-2 weeks) so once they are broken i my feet no longer need to work hard to get over the bloch and so the shoes look as if i'm 'clawing' .

 

what type of pointe shoe does your daughter wear? as she may find that a different type of pointe shoe may prevent this.

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Hi taxi4ballet, She's almost 18 and has been on pointe of many, many years.. since she was 12!

 

Her feet get stronger every single day especially in the metatarsal area. This sounds very similar to her. The backs seem to break on her pointe shoes very quickly which again, leads to her 'clawing'

 

She has has tried Suffolks, Blochs, Grishko's.... but still can't seem to find a shoe that supports her bendy metatarsals.

Which shoes do you wear ballerinaX ??

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It sounds as if she hasn't been taught to straighten her toes correctly on pointe. Everyone's "break point" i.e. where the curve on the sole of the shoe occurs is different. However it should be nearer the heel than the metatarsals - they should be straight. Have a look at Lisa Howells videos on YouTube they are very helpful.

 

Edited for spelling

Edited by Pas de Quatre
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My DD has very, very bendy metatarsals. Her toes look as thought they are at 90 degrees to her feet when she points her feet (obviously they aren't, as that isn't possible but thats what it looks like!) yet her ankles aren't very bendy the bump on top of her foot (the arch/instep maybe?!) is quite low down.

 

This causes her to 'sink' into her pointe shoes and almost create a 'claw-like' shape with her foot. Has anyone else had experience of this? and is there anything she can do to improve it?

 

What does her teacher recommend?

 

As you describe her foot - it sounds as if she has a low arch which typically occurs low on the foot rather than higher toward the ankle. This is a strong construction, wears well, but is not as attractive as a more highly placed arch. It also places the weight bearing lower on the foot which displaces how the weight is carried through the rest of the body.

 

When she is standing on pointe - is the platform of the pointe shoe completely, evenly and firmly in contact with the floor? Are her knees completely straight? This is the test. If she can accomplish that test only by arching (bending) through the metatarsals then her foot is not flexing where it should for pointe work. The fact that she has been on pointe for years doesn't mean it is well placed.

 

If I have understood your description accurately.....and that's a big "if".....then it is not the fault of the shoes - it's how the foot is constructed. Depending upon the degree to which the foot is not made to arch (too tightly constructed) where it needs to for pointe work , it can be corrected to a certain degree. There are some feet which are simply too tightly constructed to allow any change. The student learns instead to compensate - incorrectly. Because a student is able to work on pointe doesn't mean it is being done correctly.

 

If the foot is amenable to change the best way to do it is through tendue. Yes, I know that is surprising - but it is the most efficacious and safe way to do it. She has to learn to work through the foot piece by piece - how to separate the part of the foot as she extends it and brings it back - pressing through the floor to use it as an isometric exercise: toe, ball, heel.

 

It takes constant work all through the ballet class - tendue is the basis for much of the ballet vocabulary. Balanchine said it was the most important of all the exercises in class.

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Her toes are very very very straight! As she points them, they don't 'curl' or 'crunch' and are always stretched out.

 

Hi Anjuili_Bai!

Thanks for the comments.This is very true, she does have a low arch. You described it perfectly.

 

We don't quite understand the 'test' comment.. could you explain this further?

 

We are 100 % aware that it is not the shoes, we know that it is the construction of her low arch. Thank-you for the comments and advice about tendu's, she will continue to work on these and think about stretching her ankle a lot more.

 

Her teachers advised to stretch out the ankle, thinking rather about pointing from the ankle and the shin rather than her foot. Another suggestion is just a stronger shoes that will support her metatarsals.

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Her toes are very very very straight! As she points them, they don't 'curl' or 'crunch' and are always stretched out.

 

Hi Anjuili_Bai!

Thanks for the comments.This is very true, she does have a low arch. You described it perfectly.

 

We don't quite understand the 'test' comment.. could you explain this further?

 

We are 100 % aware that it is not the shoes, we know that it is the construction of her low arch. Thank-you for the comments and advice about tendu's, she will continue to work on these and think about stretching her ankle a lot more.

 

Her teachers advised to stretch out the ankle, thinking rather about pointing from the ankle and the shin rather than her foot. Another suggestion is just a stronger shoes that will support her metatarsals.

 

 

About the "test" comment ........

 

A foot which does not have enough of an arch will not be able to stand up on pointe, on both feet, in first position, with the platform of the pointe shoe fully - evenly - firmly (front/sides and back) - in contact with the floor and at the same time able to completely straighten the knees - is a foot which is not flexible enough to work on pointe correctly.

 

The "bend" has to take place somewhere - either in the foot or in the knee. If it occurs in the knee - the student is best advised not to attempt or to discontinue pointe work.

 

But - this is fairly rare - I only came across it once in 40 yrs of teaching. (The student - a really lovely girl was utterly devastated).

 

If the "test" is passed - platform fully in contact with the floor and the knees straight - but the "bend" takes place in the metatarsals - this is still a problem but it might be (depending on the degree of the bend) correctable with work - such as tendue.

 

Visualization - such as her teacher mentioned - is excellent. She should always envision the arch in her ankle. Yes, indeed.

 

The thing I would strongly warn against is the use of any kind of device to stretch the foot or anyone doing any stretching of her foot for her - such as putting weight on them. The stretch has to be done within her regular ballet exercises. The foot - even a strongly constructed one - is a delicate mechanism which has to support her for her entire life - and she has many years of important living ahead of her.

 

As for shoes - well, some say stronger and some say more flexible. I'm not sure it is support that she needs - it's flexibility. You might try a 3/4 shank and see how that works. This might encourage the foot to bend higher up. I don't guarantee it - and I hesitate to say something contrary to what her teacher advised - but it could be worth a try. At least try it in the store.

 

Hope something I've said here helps.

 

I wish her luck!

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BalletBloch i have also tried many pairs of pointe shoes, grishko, gaynor minden, bloch, capezio , freed and gamba. all have had positive and negatives to them , however at this moment in time i'm wearing bloch, although i must say that capezio's have been very good to me over the last 6 years whenever i have worn them. i think maybe if she has a longer vamp this may help in the shoes not breaking as quickly. i have very short toes so having a longer vamp seemed a really odd thing to do but it did infact help! :)

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