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Feet play a pivotal role in the world of ballet. Dancers, whether they are students or seasoned professionals, dedicate considerable attention to the appearance, sensation, and functionality of their feet. The iconic image of dainty pink pointe shoes gracefully gliding across the stage resonates with many, but it's important to recognize that not all ballet dancers share the same foot characteristics. Instead of fixating on toe shapes, this article delves into the three primary arch types and offers guidance on how to leverage them effectively.

1- Flat

Nobody aspires to have flat feet in the ballet world or beyond. Flat arches can contribute to conditions like plantar fasciitis and disrupt proper leg alignment.

Ballet, as an art form, places high value on elegantly curved arches, so flat feet might not be considered aesthetically pleasing. Nevertheless, there are exercises to enhance foot strength and arch support.

One such exercise is the classic Towel Scrunch:

Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor in front of you, place a hand towel at the tip of your toes, and use your toes to inch the fabric closer to you until the towel gathers beneath your arch.

While this won't drastically increase your arch, it will fortify the muscles within.

For reduced cramping and enhanced flexibility, try rolling a ball under your arch.

Additionally, consider incorporating a Theraband into your regimen, as these elastic tools facilitate foot stretching and strengthening.

2- Straight

Straight feet typically exhibit decent arches but lower insteps. To check if you have straight feet, sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you and point your toes. While the arches of your feet may be moderately curved, are your toes able to touch the ground easily? If your feet don't exhibit the banana-like curvature on top, you might have a low instep.

However, this doesn't signify a disadvantage. In fact, straight feet are quite common and often underestimated. They tend to be stronger because dancers need to strengthen their ankles to support proper alignment.

Some challenges associated with straight feet include difficulties getting over the box in pointe shoes and maintaining a clean line. To enhance your instep, stand facing the barre with your feet in parallel, cross one leg over the other, allowing your back kneecap to touch the front knee. With the top of your front foot on the floor, perform pulsing or bending motions with both knees, pressing your arch against the floor.

3- High

High arches are the aspiration of many ballet dancers. They look stunning in pointe shoes and create a seamless aesthetic. However, even this arch type can present challenges.

The heightened arch and instep often lead dancers to rely on their inherent flexibility, resulting in weakened ankles. This can lead to inflammation in the Achilles tendon and excessive leaning over the box in pointe shoes, increasing the risk of injury.

To fortify the muscles and tendons around the ankles, dancers with high arches can practice multiple repetitions of relevé (calf raises), taking care to incorporate gentle pliés to rest their calves and Achilles tendons between sets. As you rise onto the balls of your feet, release your grip on the barre. If balance proves difficult, focus on core strengthening, as a strong core enhances overall stability.

It's important to remember that flexibility becomes truly valuable when combined with strength. Regardless of your foot type, there is always room for improvement. Embrace your individual qualities and you'll discover greater satisfaction in the world of dance.

Source : the last dancer

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