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Fallen arches and ballet

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Hello

 

First time posting so please be nice!

 

DD is 8 and has flat feet. Essentially, her arches are dropped (so when she stands in first, her foot doesn't rise up after her toes and then down again to her heels if that makes sense: it's one straight line): she wears insoles in her normal shoes. This is genetic (from her Dad). She's also got his hypermobility though so is very flexible and when she points her toes it's a really beautiful shape. 

 

Is anyone able to give me any guidance on what this means for her ballet-wise? My gut is that it's going to make 'proper' ballet training impossible, and that ballet schools wouldn't even look at her, however talented she might be, but I may be wrong?

 

She loves all dancing, but I want to be able to manage her expectations. Thanks. x

 

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Hello

 

i am very new to this too, my son has just turned 10. His arches are not perfect, but not completely flat. He has lovely feet when pointed, or prepping for pirouettes etc. He has JHS as well. I understand with girls feet there can be perhaps more issues because of pointe work etc

Since wanting to take his ballet a bit more seriously, I figured feet would be a possible issue 😊, so I got him a dance trained Pilates coach and he has been doing strengthening and flexibility exercises for about six months. The exercises have made a huge improvement to his arch. More importantly though his ankle strength and his awareness to pull up through his ankles in order to improve the overall look and shape of his feet has been nothing short of amazing. I didn't know that toes could be so strong, flexible and beautiful. 

 

Going forward i have no idea if his not perfect ballet feet will matter if he is a beautiful little dancer, which he is. Will his musicality and grace be enough to carry him into the professional world of classical ballet, I don't know.

 

What I know is I've never mentioned his feet to him or the possibility that they might not be 'good enough' in the eyes of some training companies/schools, because he is more than his arches, and he absolutely loves ballet.

 

So for now I encourage him to continue with his strengthening exercises and enjoy learning his craft.

 

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I took my then 8yo with fallen arches to a podiatrist. He assessed her feet, her gait and made her do a number of exercises. He advised against insoles, said she's growing and told us there was nothing to worry about. Gave her a few exercises to do to strengthen her feet.

 

My gut is not to worry. 

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One of my dearest friends has completely flat feet.  She attended Elmhurst, had a very successful dance career, was a ballet girl in Phantom and was in cats to name but 2 of the many things she did.  She has incredibly flexible ankles and got a lovely line on point because of this, she could jump like a fiend - basically, it never held her back.  However, now in her late 40’s she gets lots of pain in her feet and ankles and has special orthotics.  Was this because of dancing? Would she be suffering now anyway? Would her feet and ankles still hurt even if she didn’t have flat feet? Know one knows.  I do know one thing, she would Always have chosen a dance career, NOTHING would have stopped her. 

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My DD was suffering from heel pain so we were advised to see a podiatrist. Well what a horrid experience that was! She basically told my then 9 year old to forget ever thinking about having a dance career as she had flat feet!!! Wow. She assessed gait & suggested taping arch in specific way which helped. But, talking of gut feelings.....mine was that problems only started when I bowed to pressure & allowed her fashionable Velcro fix shoes......these were Clarks but were so much flatter than her previous T-bar StartRite she'd always had & I had noticed a marked change in how she walked.....& I too get pain when shoes are very flat in style. The words were far more damaging than the shoes however!

Pleased to say a return to better shape shoes improved things as did better & more training (in 4th year now of vocational training with ballet still the goal). Rolling in & not pulling up arches had perhaps not been picked up on in what before was just one recreational dancers class a week previously.

Thankfully fashion has made Mary Jane style shoes cool....albeit they are clumpy DocMartens....but these have good arch support inside shoe as do good quality trainers that is DD's general casual footwear choice.

Son is similarly 'flat footed'. This time I went the GP route.....well, very quickly referred to podiatrist (NOT same one I'm please to say) & orthotic insoles were quickly made. Huge improvement in walking, much faster at running, fewer incidents (in fact after a year, never happens when before it was almost daily) of twisted ankles. I got recommended 'go private' with DD...well, do research what's open to you. If funds allow, then as another poster has done, a special dance focus pilates or physio can only be beneficial I imagine...but they are growing developing children & quite likely vigilance in footwear, orthotic insoles if prescribed & a sense of how best to stand/exercise etc with good dance teachers will quite likely do much to improve health & welfare. Time enough for decisions as to suitability for training/careers! Feet are only one of many physical elements that make up all of us & are not the be all end all.....I do feel that in striving to get 'the perfect arch' some are taking it too far with trying to mould shape.....banana feet may appear amazing when they touch ground when pointed from legs flat, but rarely are they strong or good en pointe......ask anyone naturally blessed with this 'attribute'

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14 hours ago, Peanut68 said:

to forget ever thinking about having a dance career as she had flat feet

 

Was the podiatrist experienced in dealing with dancers? I think a lot of people have a very stereotyped view of what sort of feet a dancer "needs" - what they don't realise is that those iconic "banana feet" are that way because of years of careful training. And not all dancers have feet like that, so I think you should try to let that comment just slide away. 

 

Far more damage is done - as you know - by shoes without proper support. Ugg boots and those cheap (and expensive) fashionable "ballet flats" style street shoes are major culprits. When I had a dose of plantar fasciitis (through a training trauma - I could hear the pop of my ligaments as I landed an almost perfect double pirouette) my GP said I needed to wear supportive shoes with a bit of a heel for a few days and advised against trainers very firmly. I wore well-made brogues (Clarks) with about a 2 cm heel. 

 

We seldom realise how important our shoes are, until our feet go wrong!

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It was a local podiatrist recommended by local dance teacher but by no means one specializing in dance...I do think that I would ensure any further (fingers crossed there won't be the need of course) interventions be needed I would research & find a specific dance focussed practitioner for any issues.

Quite agree about the shoe comments....Mother was right.....'sensible shoes make sense' :)

Interesting I do seem to recall DD felt she injured her heel after a particularly good pirouette! There's always a price to pay in life.....

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My eldest dd has just had a bunion operation and needs her other foot doing too. She says ballet caused it but I think it’s far more likely that all the stupid shoes she forced her feet into after I stopped buying her shoes after she became a young adult caused it.

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A few years ago one of my teenage girl pupils was having trouble with her feet (can't remember the exact details now), but when she went to see a chiropodist/podiatrist, she had to take her normal days shoes along to the appointment.  She was advised to throw most of them away, did so and soon recovered!  The first thing I always suggest now if a pupil has problems is for parents to check day shoes and trainers.  Another common issue is trainers that are too high at the back and irritate the achilles tendon. 

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My dd’s preference is for Converse and ballet flats. Her delightful surgeon shuddered when she told him that. 

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what are the best I wonder these days??? Fit Flops seem preferred by school mums with cash to splash or Sketchers....but don't see these appealing to our oh so stylish teens!!

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DD had problems when her arches collapsed about 5 years ago.  A good (NHS) podiatrist thoroughly examined her and gave her some strengthening exercise and customised insoles which she wore for about 2 years.  Dr Martens & Kickers were her shoe of choice for school and day wear (or sensible Clarks ones as I insisted).  After the 2 years her feet had shrunk by 2 sizes - back to a size 3 from a 5 at the worst point of the arch collapse.  A different podiatrist (due to the original one being on holiday) commented that it was 'impossible' for this to happen.  Maybe it's rare but we know exactly what happened and I have the old shoes in a cupboard to prove that they were well worn in the larger sizes (along with the little sizing cards you get from Clarks when they are little) - all recorded the growth and then reduction in her foot size. 

She may not have the most elegant arch shape but her feet are now very strong and she still uses the exercises to 'maintain' her arches.

Now at 18 if she's out with friends she'll wear her 'nice, going out' shoes for the start of the evening but will always have a pair of sensible shoes to change into later in the evening!

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2 hours ago, Pas de Quatre said:

A few years ago one of my teenage girl pupils was having trouble with her feet (can't remember the exact details now), but when she went to see a chiropodist/podiatrist, she had to take her normal days shoes along to the appointment.  She was advised to throw most of them away, did so and soon recovered!  The first thing I always suggest now if a pupil has problems is for parents to check day shoes and trainers.  Another common issue is trainers that are too high at the back and irritate the achilles tendon. 

 

That's interesting to know! DD is wearing her trainers a lot more than ever before and she has complained of heel and ankle problems a lot of over the past few months, particularly after ballet classes. I had it down as growing pains but am trying to find a dance physio nearby (no luck thus far though) just in case it's caused by too much dancing (6.5 hours of ballet), but maybe the shoes aren't helping and are part of the issue. Will look into that as well.

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That's all really interesting. I've always bought barefoot style shoes (wide toe box, no heel drop, very flexible) for dd, and we go barefoot in the house. Has anyone

had any advice about the suitability (or not!) of these types of shoes for dancers?

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12 hours ago, ballettaxi said:

DD had problems when her arches collapsed about 5 years ago.  A good (NHS) podiatrist thoroughly examined her and gave her some strengthening exercise and customised insoles which she wore for about 2 years.  Dr Martens & Kickers were her shoe of choice for school and day wear (or sensible Clarks ones as I insisted).  After the 2 years her feet had shrunk by 2 sizes - back to a size 3 from a 5 at the worst point of the arch collapse.  A different podiatrist (due to the original one being on holiday) commented that it was 'impossible' for this to happen.  Maybe it's rare but we know exactly what happened and I have the old shoes in a cupboard to prove that they were well worn in the larger sizes (along with the little sizing cards you get from Clarks when they are little) - all recorded the growth and then reduction in her foot size. 

She may not have the most elegant arch shape but her feet are now very strong and she still uses the exercises to 'maintain' her arches.

Now at 18 if she's out with friends she'll wear her 'nice, going out' shoes for the start of the evening but will always have a pair of sensible shoes to change into later in the evening!


feet can and do  change shape  if the intrinsic muscles are  exercised !  

i have dropped a  width   and a  bit in length  compared to  before starting taking class and that is  without a great deal of specific  foot exercising,  i expect  to  possibly drop another width  due to  both  medicatio neffects  and  takign moire classes  and starting to do more  foot focused  exercises  

@sophie_rebecca has  experienced similar  with  her ballet journey  .. 
 

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On 19/06/2018 at 22:02, Confuddled said:

That's all really interesting. I've always bought barefoot style shoes (wide toe box, no heel drop, very flexible) for dd, and we go barefoot in the house. Has anyone

had any advice about the suitability (or not!) of these types of shoes for dancers?

 

Depends whether you need arch support to help prevent over-pronating (rolling in). 

 

My dd is hypermobile and her arches started to drop in about year 4, if I remember rightly. When she developed grumbling achilles tendonitis we took her to a Consultant Podiatrist who gait tested her and suggested orthotics for everyday shoes, trainers for over-pronators BUT no orthotics for her ballet flats because she needed to strengthen her ankles and train herself not to roll in.

 

The tendonitis eased over the next few years with orthotics and exercises and she soon got her very high arches back again.  It hasn't impacted her pointe work or her ballet in general.  She had to work hard on her ankles, her hamstrings and her core but she was able to train herself not to roll in.  

 

In terms of shoes, she wore DM boots in autumn and winter, Converses/Vans in spring and summer - both with her custom orthotics in.  She still gets her custom orthotics from the NHS Orthotics dept because of her hypermobility but doesn't need to wear them daily.  Birkenstocks are good for holidays and hot weather and Nike trainers for stability have excellent arch support.  

 

In summary, no, with proper help and training there's no reason this should impact negatively on ballet.

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If you have completely flat shoes, the arches will tend to drop for anyone.  I always wear an arched insole Dr. Scholl (or similar brand) inside Converse trainers in Summer and Ugg style boots in Winter.  It really makes a difference.  For flip flops and beach sandals it is best to get good brands like Reef which have arched soles moulded into the design rather than plain flat ones.

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My feet were pretty flat before I did ballet, I started as an adult at the age of 29, I’m now 35 and can get a pretty nice arch on pointe. I’ve got a bit of hyper mobility too, but not as extreme as some!

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23 minutes ago, TabbyCool said:

My feet were pretty flat before I did ballet, I started as an adult at the age of 29, I’m now 35 and can get a pretty nice arch on pointe. I’ve got a bit of hyper mobility too, but not as extreme as some!

 

Likewise. Tai chi and ballet have made a big difference over the last decade or so. And I almost always wear shoes with precisely zero support. And weigh over 100kg.

 

I have a sneaking  suspicion that feet are one of those things our lifestyle and tools have gone down completely the wrong path on.

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