Professional ballet dancers often seem to have inhumanly curved feet. For many people, "pointed toes" means simply that: moving the toes only so that they point downward. For ballerinas, however, pointing their toes actually means pointing their entire foot. In fact, “point your toes” could be considered a misleading phrase. Every iota of strength and effort that dancers use while leaping and turning goes not just through their legs, but also through every inch of their feet and toes. To achieve the strong arched shape of a professional dancer’s pointed foot, you will have to strengthen and move much more than just your toes.
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Get in the right mindset. Before you can physically begin to point your toes harder, you must understand how dancers use every muscle from their buttocks downwards to create the trademark beautiful feet of ballet. Imagine a jolt of energy shooting from the top of your hip down through your thigh and calf that finally explodes out of your toes. Your pointed foot should be the natural conclusion to the tightening and elongating of every muscle in your leg.
Strengthen your feet. The stronger your feet become, the more curved and graceful your pointed toes will appear. Wrap the middle of a theraband around your toes, holding onto the ends of the band as if they were reins. Repeatedly point and flex your toes while pulling the theraband toward you, creating resistance to what is an otherwise simple motion. Your toes will eventually get stronger and adapt to the new challenge so that once the theraband is removed, you will be able to point your toes even harder.
Stretch it out. The goal of most ballet exercises is to build long, lean muscle that is both strong and flexible, tough and elegant. This rule is equally true for the feet. To stretch the tops of your feet and deepen your arch, stand facing a support like a ballet barre or countertop. Place your hands on the barre for support. Stand in first position, with heels touching and toes pointing away from one another to form a wide V-shape. Cross your right leg over the left so that the top of your right foot is resting against the top of your left foot.Your ankles should be touching, so that the tops of your right toes are resting on the ground. Bend your knees, pressing your right toes into the ground, forcing the arch of that foot to deepen and stretch. Switch feet and repeat.
Hold it. Practicing endurance can help you to both obtain and maintain perfectly curved and pointed feet. Point your right toe as hard as you possibly can and set a goal for how long you will try to hold that position. Repeat with the left foot. Each time you practice this exercise, try to increase the length of time for which you hold your pointed position.
Take it up a notch. For slightly more advanced dancers, practice using the entirety of your leg to shoot energy down through your toes by repeating slow degages. Shoot your foot out to degage as quickly as possible, making sure to fully make the transition from flat foot to half or demi point to full point. Once your leg is fully extended, however, try to freeze and hold the same position your foot had achieved when your muscles were working hard to create the energy for a quick and precise movement.
Tips and warnings
- These exercises are also excellent preparations for pointe work.
- If your foot begins to cramp, take a break to massage and rest it before doing any more exercises.
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