Because of the continual impact requested of the feet in dance, fallen arches or improper technique at this part of the body can impact the entire alignment of the body and contribute to acute or chronic injury at the ankle, knee, hip, and/or back. Strengthening the muscles of the foot is incredibly important, which can result in a greater sense of balance and stability, better alignment, and more supple feet for greater artistic expression.
Try these 3 FLX-inspired supplemental foot strengthening exercises to improve your arch, jump, and pointe work!
1. Metatarsal Exercise
SETUP: Sit down with your right heel resting on the ground and place the FLX Ball under the toes or your right foot.
- With wide straight toes press down into the ball and hold for 5 seconds.
- Aim to press with the back of your toes to keep the toes very straight.
2. Arch Exercise
SETUP: Sit down with your right heel resting on the ground and place the FLX Ball under the toes of your right foot
- Begin by pressing the toes straight down.
- Continue by doming the arch.
- Feel the arch pull up as your toes and metatarsals press into the ball.
REPETITIONS: 10 times
3. Full Plantar Flexion
SETUP: Sit down with your right heel resting on the ground and place the FLX Ball under the toes of your right foot.
- Start with the first two exercises and continue into a full pointe with the foot rounding over the ball.
- Your heel will leave the ground as you aim to straighten your leg.
- Remember to feel your toes, metatarsals, and now arch pressing down into the ball.
- Return to your starting position by going backwards through the steps until your heel is back on the ground.
REPETITIONS: 10 times
DANCER FOCUS: Improper alignment of the foot in relevés and landings from jumps can lead to two of the most common dance injuries: ankle sprain and fifth metatarsal fracture (so common, in fact, that it is also referred to as the Dancers’ Fracture).
Poor alignment of the foot and arch can also weaken the ligaments that connect its many bones. A result of this can include a “fallen” arch – permanent loss of flexibility and lift in the longitudinal arches – along with a host of secondary conditions such as tendonitis, stress fractures, and integumentary (skin and nail) problems.