As dancers our feet are a vital part of our art. They finish our lines, hold us up, and are the base for almost everything we do! Unfortunately, not all of us are blessed with crazy arches and flexible ankles, but that doesn’t have to mean you can’t improve what you have. Assured, your feet will get stronger & more supple with training consistently, but here are some exercises to help you progress & gain strength in your feet quickly! Do these exercises 4/5 times a week for best results.
Start by warming up your feet with your tennis ball, massaging your foot over the ball, rolling out any tight muscles and increasing circulation.
Stretch out your toes by balancing with your weight behind you on your hands, lift your heels off the floor as far as you can, stretching your ankles forward in a forced arch position. This stretch is great for warming up your toes and arches & helps with increasing the height of your relevé.
Practicing simple tendus & jetés are one of the methods for more supple feet. Stand at the barre in first position. Slowly, extend your foot to a full point in front of you, massaging the floor envisioning each muscle in your foot as you go. Then, starting the movement with your toes, retrace your tendu motion back into first position.
Therabands are a must have for every dancer. They can be used in so many ways to help you increase your strength & flexibility in all areas, especially pointe-work!
Sit on the floor with your legs extended. Wrap the band around one of your feet and use your hands to grip the ends of the band. Hold the band tight to increase resistance and alternate between pointing and flexing your toes. To make the exercise even more beneficial, try doing the exercise while focusing on one part of your foot at a time. Isolate your ankle and point only with your toes. Then isolate your toes and point through only your ankle. Reverse the exercise by holding the theraband to the floor while flexing your foot towards you building strength in your instep.
Write the alphabet with your feet. This exercise is for improving ankle strength. Sit in a chair with one leg outstretched. Leading with your toes, write the entire alphabet in the air. Then switch feet and perform the same exercise with your other foot. Make sure to use capital letters for more range of motion, not lowercase.
Stand facing a barre or something you can hold on to. Stand on your tiptoes and bend your right knee, forcing your weight onto your right toes and driving your left heel towards the floor. Then switch feet. Alternate between the two feet to complete two sets of eight. Repeat the prance exercise again, but turned out into first position.
Strengthen your toes with a simple but difficult exercise with a hand towel! Sit on the floor with your feet extended in front of you. Place a hand towel at the tip of your toes. Grabbing the towel with your toes, pull it towards you until it is fully gathered under the arch of your foot.
Work the inner & outer muscles of your foot to prevent injury.
Sit on the floor with legs extended forward, ankles a few inches apart. Wrap band around the side of your foot holding the theraband with your opposite foot and grasp with hands. With working foot slightly (not strongly) pointed, move foot smoothly outward (to an everted position). Move exactly to the side, without changing angle of foot or moving toes. Return smoothly past starting point to fully inverted position. Then, sit with legs extended forward, with working ankle resting on top of other ankle. Wrap band opposite to the previous exercise (resistance to get into a sickled position) and grasp with hands. With working foot slightly pointed, slowly and smoothly move inward (to an inverted position). Keep ankle extended and try not to use toes. Move exactly to the side in relationship to the ankle. Return slowly past starting point to fully everted position.
I hope these exercises helped you, & remember to always over accentuate working & rolling through your feet in class.