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Pointe help


Dancing_demon
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Can someone please give me some tips and exercises for strengthening my feet and toes for pointe?  :)

Im 15 and I've been doing ballet for nearly 12 years. My teacher says my first two toes are strong enough for pointe but i need to strengthen and straighten the rest of them. I have tried toe tape, therabands and drumming my toes and nothing seems to help. Can someone please Give me some help?  :)

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Hello

 

Can you give a bit more information about how long you have been on pointe and what your teacher sees as the problem? Firstly, don't give up as there are loads of different strengthening exercises which will help as long as you do regularly. Is the problem not being in the centre of the block of your shoe when on pointe or not being able to get fully up onto pointe? It may also be that the type of shoe you are wearing should be checked by your teacher. One way that would isolate the divide between big and little toe is to practice lifting the big toe off the floor and then putting it down and then lifting all the other toes together off the floor together whilst your big toe is on the floor. You may need to use your hand to steady parts that need to be kept on the floor initially until you get strong enough. In addition, practice systematically lifting all toes off the floor whilst keeping your heel on the floor and then place one toe down at a time starting with the little toe if this weakest so it's like playing keys of the piano with each toe. Again you may well need to use your fingers to hold certain toes up until the muscles get stronger. This should most definitely strengthen the toes and intrinsic muscles. You can progress to using one of those lovely elastic bands which the post man drops on your doorstep as a mini Theraband for each toe to push down against. That way you can target specific toe weakness.

 

In addition it helps to keep doing metatarsal arch lifting exercise and just standing on one foot without holding on to anything. You will find the muscles in foot/ankle will have to work hard to stabilise you. When this gets easier try whilst wearing your pointe shoe or with eyes shut as it makes the exercise harder.

 

Sorry, I have rambled on a bit but if this is to do with not getting up fully onto pointe or in the centre of the foot then I will ramble some more with exercises which will help.

 

Hope this helps????

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The place to start is with tendu.  

 

As  your foot moves out along the floor from 5th or 1st position, feel your toes reaching out - maintaining contact with the floor - but reaching out.  This will help with keeping the smaller three toes straight - which you said your teacher mentioned as a problem.  You must not allow them to knuckle under.  

 

Also as you reach out in tendu press against the floor - without shifting your weight - and use the floor as an isometric exercise.  This will help with strengthening the foot.

 

You can use a theraband - with caution - for those three toes - using them to push against the band.  But this must be done with caution and not over done.

 

Usually, the problem is not one of flexibility in the toes - it is one of strength and straightening as your teacher says.

 

When you rise onto demi-pointe make sure your weight is primarily on your first three big toes - but that that smallest toe must never lose contact with the floor.and that your knee is fully straightened - pulling up along the thigh.  

 

How is your balance?

 

Is your foot rotated inward?  (too much weight on the first three toes)

 

Outward?  (too much weight on your smaller toes)

 

Your teacher is the one who should be giving you  specific exercises since she can see what you are doing.  Has she given you any exercises?

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Once piece of advice I have found useful for pointe is to focus on your centre doing most of the work for you. So when you start a rise, even before the heels have come off the floor, your focus is getting your hips and body away from the feet, as far from the feet as possible. Even when you've done the rise en pointe (for example), you continue the feeling of constantly trying to get your body and centre higher and higher up. The teacher who gave me this piece of advice also believes pointe work involves thinking more about what you are doing with your centre, rather than your feet. Obviously, your feet need to be strong enough for pointe work, but focusing only on strengthening feet, or just thinking about the feet while doing pointe work can make you look like you are emphasising being 'down' or 'sitting' en pointe rather than give the feeling you are constantly going and staying up.

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Once piece of advice I have found useful for pointe is to focus on your centre doing most of the work for you. So when you start a rise, even before the heels have come off the floor, your focus is getting your hips and body away from the feet, as far from the feet as possible. Even when you've done the rise en pointe (for example), you continue the feeling of constantly trying to get your body and centre higher and higher up. The teacher who gave me this piece of advice also believes pointe work involves thinking more about what you are doing with your centre, rather than your feet. Obviously, your feet need to be strong enough for pointe work, but focusing only on strengthening feet, or just thinking about the feet while doing pointe work can make you look like you are emphasising being 'down' or 'sitting' en pointe rather than give the feeling you are constantly going and staying up.

 

 

I agree with this very much.  I used to pretend that there was a hook (ouch) right where the ribs begin to separate and it was lifting me up.  And that not only was I rising - but rising forward.  As you rise - the weight must smoothly rise forward.

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In various places you read/are told that pointe strengthens flat work and they both end up strengthening each other. However, I found out it's difficult to use what you learn in pointe into flat work. Maybe I had assumed pointe work would automatically improve my flat work, but I found out that I have to consciously go through the process of what I do for, say a rise in flat, in the same way that I approach a rise en pointe. So that a rise in flat work was no longer something just my feet did, but involves the body and centre going up before the heels have left the floor, as if I was going en pointe.

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"So that a rise in flat work was no longer something just my feet did, but involves the body and centre going up before the heels have left the floor, as if I was going en pointe."

 

In that sentence you are illustrating what you've learned whilst doing pointe and that you are applying it to your flat/slipper work.  It used to be "something my feet just did" - but pointe work has made you aware of what you are doing.

 

That's an excellent lesson, I think.

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"So that a rise in flat work was no longer something just my feet did, but involves the body and centre going up before the heels have left the floor, as if I was going en pointe."

 

In that sentence you are illustrating what you've learned whilst doing pointe and that you are applying it to your flat/slipper work.  It used to be "something my feet just did" - but pointe work has made you aware of what you are doing.

 

That's an excellent lesson, I think.

 

Yes Anjuli I agree with you. I feel it has also shown me why there is no such thing as an 'easy' ballet class and why it's helpful to take classes that are more basic in their levels.

 

The idea of a rise being 'no longer something just my feet did' for pointe work did not come naturally to me. I had to have this explained to me. I used to think pointe work was all about the strength in my feet but in thinking of my centre being the main source of power for pointe work, it had shown me how much more effort I needed to make in all my classes. It also makes me appreciate even more what I see on stage, which is an excellent thing as well.

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