Do you admire beauty of dancer's feet? You watch them perform and suddenly these pointed feet draw your attention moving with precision and fluidity. Then you think hmm if only my feet were like that... Does it sound familiar?
Well, improving your feet is something that dancers can work on, so if you put your mind into it and follow these 5 exercises, you will see a big difference in the way you use and articulate your feet.
Whether you are a beginner dancer or a professional, we spend a lot of time pointing and stretching our feet. We always try to improve them. Most of us have heard this from our teachers: Point your feet! Now imagine them saying it with their voice and facial expression :-)
Some people have naturally more flexible and defined foot shape than others. But don't worry there are ways to improve it. You can't change your bone structure but you can certainly strengthen your feet and give them a more defined shape over time.
However, first of all you need to understand two terms: arch and instep. What are these?
Arch- it is a bony structure that runs from the heel to the toes on bottom of the foot.
Instep- it is the raised part of the top of your foot between toes and ankle.
Now that you know the difference, here are 5 exercises to give you nice "ballet" feet and have strength to point them at each position. Just remember- Rome wasn't built in a day! Be patient!
1. Grab your foot
Sit down, hold the heel of your foot with one hand and cover your toes with palm of your other hand. Then, push your toes down towards the heel of the foot. Remember, be gentle but firm. You should feel a stretch across your instep. Hold your foot in that position for 15 seconds. Repeat the exercise 3 times.
2. Tuck your toes
In a standing position, point your foot on the floor then tuck your toes underneath. Don't put too much weight on that foot. Start with your knee bent. Keeping your tucked toes on the floor, start slowly straightening your knee. You should feel stretch of your instep. Hold the position for 15 seconds. Repeat the exercise 3 times.
3. Grab a towel
As the name suggests, you'll need a towel for this exercise. Place the ball of your foot on the edge of the towel and spread your toes as far as you can. Then start grabbing the towel and scrunching it towards your foot. It will bunch underneath your foot until your run out of the towel. Do this exercise slowly and ideally hold for 3 seconds at each grab. Repeat the exercise 3 times. P.S. the bigger the towel, the more grabbing you will do :-)
4. Stair raises
Stand on a stair with toes of both feet. The heels should be off the edge of the stair in a way that you can easily lower them. Then slowly lower your heels over 5 counts and hold for another 10 counts. Then rise over 5 counts and hold for additional 10 counts. You should feel the stretch in your Achilles tendon when your heels are down and instep when your feet are up. Repeat the exercise 5 times. I personally prefer to do one foot at a time to make sure I can focus on it fully.
5. Foot roll (it's not a new sushi dish!)
For this exercise you will need a tennis ball, a golf ball, a massage ball or simply a can of soup. Sit down in a chair and place the ball on the floor. Keep your knee at the right angle and put your foot on the ball. Then roll the ball from the toes to the heel by straightening your knee. Make sure as the ball is moving towards the heel, the foot stays pointed. Do the exercise slowly making sure you massage each part of the foot. I suggest 2 minutes on each foot.
You can easily do those exercises when you are at your desk at work or at home whilst working on a computer. Then you are on a good track to develop the beautiful dancer's feet you always wanted.
Do you know any other useful exercises that work for you? If so, what are they? Leave a comment below with your suggestions. I hope you find those exercises helpful. Share this post on Twitter or Facebook so that your friends can also start working on their footwork.
Photo Credits: Maggiore Fotografico