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Improving Foot Flexibility


swanprincess
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Hi, I was wondering wether anyone could give me any exercises, possibly with a Theraband, to make my feet more flexible. I have high arches and insteps, but my feet aren't very flexible, meaning that in exercises such as battements glisses, the line of my foot looks really messy (not a straight line from the leg to the toes, if that makes sense) Also, when in the splits etc, with my feet pointed, I can never get my toes to touch the ground, which is frustrating!! Thanks, S :)

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swanprincess you say you have high insteps/arches so I don't quite understand what you mean about flexibility in your feet - can you take a photo and PM it to me?! Or explain what you want to be able to do? Is it your toes? Your toes should be straight, not curled, none of the toe 'knuckles' should be bent. Perhaps it's strength that you need in your feet rather than flexibility?

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Yes, i think so- i presume that if the front of my ankle was more flexible it would allow my foot to kind of point more? (basically, in a tendu, the foot looks similar to how a swayback knee arcs back as the thigh joins the calf: the front of the foot arcs back slightly.between the bottom of the tibia and the metatarsals, so that in battements tendus, glisses etc, the foot looks as if it is not fully pointed) Imagining the leg as a diagonal line when the foot is pointed at glisse hight, it is as if the end of the line- the foot- becomes slightly more of a horizontal line, thus destroying the extended line of the leg... Sorry if that's as clear as mud, can't think how else to describe it!! but one of my friends, who used to be an RBS MA, has very flexible feet that touch the floor when she is sitting down pointing her toes- is such flexibility genetic, or can it be worked on? :)

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Feet that point that much are pretty rare - and actually a lot harder to work with!

 

As you sit with your legs stretched out in front of you, and feet pointed, could you lie a pencil flat on the top of your ankle? as in flat, touching all of the end of the tibia, across to the metatarsals?

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drdance, it may be an issue of strength, however I assumed that my feet are relatively strong, as it only took me around half an hour to break in a medium strength shank pointe shoe. Also, when I am en pointe,.i find that, unless my shoes are fairly new, they don't seem to support my feet when doing releves in 1st and 2nd- i'm not fully over the box in a well broken in shoe because it feels as if, should i push any further over, my foot will go too far forwards over the shoe, potentially causing injury. As for a photo, i am unfortunately utterly dreadful with technology and would not know how to upload it- hopefully my previous post has clarified it slightly? :)

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Yes, i think so- i presume that if the front of my ankle was more flexible it would allow my foot to kind of point more? (basically, in a tendu, the foot looks similar to how a swayback knee arcs back as the thigh joins the calf: the front of the foot arcs back slightly.between the bottom of the tibia and the metatarsals, so that in battements tendus, glisses etc, the foot looks as if it is not fully pointed) Imagining the leg as a diagonal line when the foot is pointed at glisse hight, it is as if the end of the line- the foot- becomes slightly more of a horizontal line, thus destroying the extended line of the leg... Sorry if that's as clear as mud, can't think how else to describe it!! but one of my friends, who used to be an RBS MA, has very flexible feet that touch the floor when she is sitting down pointing her toes- is such flexibility genetic, or can it be worked on? :)

 

Flexibility is both a product of how you are structured (in which genetics plays a part) and it is possible to improve it - to a certain extent. But one needs to remember that too much flexibility can come at the loss of core strength. You need to aim at a balance of both - flexibility and strength.

 

A highly arched foot (as you describe your foot) usually is an indication of flexibility. As for toes touching the floor while sitting in a split - there is no reason to see this as the standard for which to aim. I see it as almost too much flexibility which might indicate less strength.

 

It is always a very questionable position to compare oneself to others. We are all so different. If you have a nicely arched foot and it is serving you well - supporting you - be happy!

 

As for pointe -- you need to be squarely on the box platform - ideally - all four corners touching the floor. You do not get there by pushing over past the shoe - but by pulling up from the shoe in as straight a line (toe to hip) as possible. A foot that falls forwrd of the shoe is unstable and strains the ligatments and tendons of the foot.

 

I hope something I've said here helps.

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drdance, it may be an issue of strength, however I assumed that my feet are relatively strong, as it only took me around half an hour to break in a medium strength shank pointe shoe. Also, when I am en pointe,.i find that, unless my shoes are fairly new, they don't seem to support my feet when doing releves in 1st and 2nd- i'm not fully over the box in a well broken in shoe because it feels as if, should i push any further over, my foot will go too far forwards over the shoe, potentially causing injury. As for a photo, i am unfortunately utterly dreadful with technology and would not know how to upload it- hopefully my previous post has clarified it slightly? :)

 

From this post - since you say a well broken in shoe is not supporting you - it sounds as if you need the support - and thus I would not go for more flexibility.

 

What does your teacher say?

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hi Anjuli, I haven't had chance to ask my teacher about it yet, but the reason why I asked was because I'm interested in auditioning for RBS associates, and the MA friend I mentioned before, as well as another girl I know who got SWL for SA's, both have very flexible feet. Although of course there are many things that RBS look for in their applicants, I would like to be able to improve on whatever I can before auditioning. Drdance, I tried the pencil thing, and, when the pencil was vertical, it eventually, after many attempts, stayed resting on my foot/leg, however not all of the pencil was in contact with my leg- there was around a 3cm gap across the front of the ankle where it wouldn't touch. When the pencil was horizontally across both feet, there was one spot just before the ankle where it would stay, but any closer to the tibia or the metatarsals, and it would roll off.

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I agree with asking your teacher, as it's very difficult for anyone to prescribe exercises for another person, particularly when trying to form an idea of someone's foot from a written post.

 

I always thought that my dd was having trouble getting fully over onto pointe because the front of her ankle wasn't flexible enough (which seemed strange to me as laterally, her ankles are hypermobile). The problems - diagnosed by an excellent pointe shoe fitter and a highly experienced dance physio, were twofold - the wrong pointe shoes (vamp too high and platform too tapered) and a lack of strength in the foot muscles and muscles down the backs of her legs.

 

The difference after changing pointe shoes and working hard doing her exercises twice a day every day for months is incredible. She's never going to have banana feet but they are getting much stronger and she's now getting fully over en pointe with no problem.

 

The point I'm trying to make is that we thought the problem was the front of the ankle but actually it was something else entirely, so you can see the difficulty in even folks as knowledgeable as Anjuli and drdance trying to suggest exercises for you without being able to examine your foot and your pointe shoes! :-)

 

I would suggest having a good talk to your teacher and asking her to look at your feet and your shoes.

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I agree with Spannerandpony here - it's very difficult on here to A ) understand exactly what the issue is, and B ) what you want to achieve. It would also be very difficult, for anyone to explain an exercise or two through the medium of writing sufficiently for you to be able to perform it safely and properly. In fact it would be unprofessional and negligent of me to suggest something for you to do without my being able to supervise you doing it.

 

However - I do recommend you ask your teacher if you're worried about your feet. They will either tell you that your feet are lovely and you don't need to worry, or will be able to give you some advice. And if you are worried that your teacher is not familiar with giving exercises like this then can you try to see someone else nearby for advice? eg a physio etc

 

(edited to remove a weird sunglass-wearing emoticon!)

Edited by drdance
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Did we have another thread on this a few months back, or am I confusing it with something else?

 

This comes up regularly, Alison. The flexibility and height of leg issues are epidemic.

 

I miss the discussions of musicality - nuance - characterization - role development - style - effect - artistic vision - performance values - yes, for students.

 

Those qualities which set each dancer apart - the qualities that create an artist.

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