High Silver Member
Registered: 1451919797 Posts: 148
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My DD does not have naturally good arches in her feet. Even when she points as hard as she can it's not a great arch at all. Her feet are also not a great shape for dancing. Her feet are wide and her toes are mostly all very close in length. When she points, her toes kind of look scrunched. They dont point downward if that makes sense?? Her director has asked her to "work on her feet." She has been doing exercises with one of those stretchy bands, pointing and flexing 30 times each foot. She's been doing that about 5 times a week for a couple of months. She also found some youtube videos that explain how to help stretch the feet and strengthen them. She's done that a couple of times a week for the past few weeks. I did not want to buy her one of those foot stretchers because I heard that can be bad for kids' feet. (she's almost 10).
How long does it take to see any kind of results from these foot exercises? She's been doing them for a couple of months, and I'm not sure there are any results. Those kids who have those amazing feet...are they just genetically luckier? My DD's feet are not completely flat, but they are not anywhere near amazing either. Maybe the exercises she's doing are not great exercises? Does anyone have any recommendations of tried and true exercises to help feet? Have you guys ever seen a child with not so good feet succeed in turning them into great feet? I'm wondering if it's hopeless due to the way her feet are made.
High Platinum Member
Registered: 1266718806 Posts: 3,556
Reply with quote #2
I implore you, do not buy one of the foot stretching devices for your DD.
It takes years to create the look you're talking about. The development of beautiful feet will not come after just a couple of months. My DD has gorgeous, naturally arched feet with a very high instep and virtually every teacher she's ever had has remarked about them, but she still worked everyday for almost all of her dance life (15 years) to develop and strengthen them further. Beautiful feet and hands are a couple of the attributes that DD most admires in dancers. Please rest assured, most dancers aren't born with naturally beautiful feet. It really comes down to stretching and strengthening and sadly there really are no "safe" shortcuts. Give her time...
Registered: 1332216704 Posts: 1,118
Reply with quote #3
Mamala - yes - those with gorgeous feet are genetically lucky (and then they work hard on top of that).
I am a mom of a dancer with "bad" feet, who has made her way to "average" feet. No matter what my dd does, she will never have gorgeous feet - having gorgeous banana feet requires a genetic foot structure that my dancer does not have. But my dd has significantly improved her foot flexibility and strength over time (years), so that she makes a decent point and you can see a nice arch. Theraband exercises, lots of ballet class, perfect circles, writing her name with her feet, and stretching her feet (sits on her knees and then pushes herself back until she gets a stretch in her ankles) have all helped. If her toes look scrunched when she points, this might be the easiest thing to work on. Her teacher can help her identify when she is pointing properly without scrunching. Her toes should not be curled.
High Gold Member
Registered: 1446575647 Posts: 649
Reply with quote #4
Have her pick up marbles with her toes. This was an exercise given to my daughter a couple of years ago and her feet are beautiful. I bought a bag of marbles and a bucket for her to drop them into. It helps to strength the muscles. She also uses therabands. Start with a lighter resistance and move up to the heavy resistance as her feet become stronger.
Registered: 1212174184 Posts: 1,837
Reply with quote #5
You do not need a foot stretcher. You need a theraband and a great work ethic. Use it every single day and she will see improvement. She's young so make sure you have an instructor show her how to use it correctly.
High Gold Member
Registered: 1337092342 Posts: 750
Reply with quote #6
It should also be noted that more ballet barre will help with strength and foot shape. Band exercises can't be the only tool.
High Platinum Member
Registered: 1298213712 Posts: 4,265
Reply with quote #7
You cannot change genetics but you can learn to use what you have. Those kids with the amazing looking feet were born with them. Yes, they need to learn to use them as well and they have their own challenges, but they were born with that foot structure and general shape.
Dd started hearing about her "bad feet" when she was about the same age as your dd. She is proof that you can learn to use what you have. She is now a professional ballet dancer. One of her favorite compliments came shortly after she changed studios at 17 to a school where no one had known her. One day, the teacher was giving a correction about the use of the foot to someone else. It was something that applied to dancers with those very arched feet. She turns to dd and says "Us average feet dancers need to stick together." Dd thought that was the ultimate compliment!
The exercises mentioned above became part of her normal day. She worked with the theraband a minimum of twice a day, often 3 times a day- morning, just before class and at night. She'd sit and use it while watching TV. She'd be rolling her foot over a tennis ball or wine bottle while doing schoolwork. When she was 10, her British teacher gave her many of the exercises mentioned above plus told her to "pick up tea towels" with her feet. I changed that to "pick up your dirty clothes from your floor!" LOL. In addition to the exercises mentioned, she now also works with a series of differently sized balls to work on some of the small intrinsic muscles of the foot. It's something she learned in PT with a dance certified PT who specializes in ballet dancers.
She's not going to see the change in a matter of weeks or even months. It's going to be years of continual class and hard work. Take a photo now and then take another next year at this time. There will be a subtle difference. Do it every year and when she's older, she will really see the results.
Dd is actually developing a "foot" workshop based on all that she has learned over the years through these exercises and through PT.
Registered: 1486178785 Posts: 489
Reply with quote #8
New to the world of pointe, but I'm learning learning learning and a foot with a fairly even toe "profile" is very stable in pointe shoes; had she a second toe longer than the first or a sharply curved Egyptian *I believe, pointe shoes may be harder to fit.... maybe not, but it's what I've read.
Banana feet that come "naturally" without work and development are inherently weak. You cannot have excessive flexibility AND superior stability all at once in a young dancer. The banana foot from birth dancer must work work work to build the intrinsic muscles of the feet to back that flexibility up with strength AND control or they will have no chance at quality lines or turns or landings from leaps (or take off for that matter). While the inherently stable and strong foot may not have a banana shape, with daily attention to shape and strengthening of the intrinsic muscles at the very end range (which is the most difficult part of the range of motion to strengthen) they can achieve a more aesthetically pleasing shape AND have superior control and stability. My daughter has natural flexibility, and she is not naturally strong. She did not have a "banana foot" because she was not taught to where she initially began dancing. Once she transitioned to a traditional ballet academy she understood the importance of a clean line and the need for adequate flexibility for pointe work... and she has developed the strength and a much more impressive foot profile. And it took MONTHS of work and I'd estimate she's probably 25 % of where she'll wind up in a few years. Anyway, remind your daughter that stable is GOOD, stable feet sprain less and support better and can produce more reliable turns. Professional advice from me, have her start to take pictures of her in plantar flexion (pointed) ONLY once a month and always at the same time, after a dance class when she is sufficiently warmed up. She can then see the improvements as they happen and be encouraged to keep working. Absolutely no more than once a month because real progress takes time, she should not expect to see changes sooner than that , and at each one month mark the progress should be incremental. Good luck.
Registered: 1394807833 Posts: 1,260
Reply with quote #9
And maybe it's a mindset change - DD15 started assistant teaching for a class of musical theater kids ages 9-12 with little or no dance experience (yes quite the challenge). But just last night she said to me something I hadn't realized in the 9 years of being a dance mom. She said "These kids don't realize that a good point comes from the ankles not the toes". Along with the exercises the teacher recommended perhaps getting your daughter to think more about her ankle placement than her toe "pointing" will help as well.
Registered: 1212174184 Posts: 1,837
Reply with quote #10
There are tons of other discussions about feet on Dancemom. The bottom line is - most younger kids think pointing their toes actually means pointing with their toes. That is definitely not the case. You point with your entire foot and you do not curl your toes. If girls curl their toes, they will never be able to go en pointe correctly. I think teachers have a hard time explaining this to kids. Kids are visual - they need to see examples.
Registered: 1501361008 Posts: 69
Reply with quote #11
I'm glad someone else brought up ankles. A beautifully pointed foot isn't just toes - it's stretching and pointing all the way through the ankle and foot, without curling the toes under. And I agree with others that developing feet takes time and lots and lots of ballet work!
High Gold Member
Registered: 1407373522 Posts: 577
Reply with quote #12
At a recent pointe shoe fitting the fitter's helper mentioned DD's "good" feet. At age 10 DD had a broad flat foot, inflexible ankles, and a tendency to sickle. She's 14 now. She may never have great feet, but I wouldn't have guessed how much her feet would change.
Quality ballet classes as often as possible will make a huge difference. The whole point of the ballet barre is to develop the body for dance, and the point starts at the hips and goes all the way through the tips of the toes. Towels, bands, balls, are all good ways to work the feet once the dancer has been taught to do the exercises properly. At age 10, my daughter would not have been able to faithfully recreate exercises she'd been shown once or twice. Her instructors supervised them in ballet class doing exercises so that they could be sure they were being done them correctly. At that time she was taking class three times a week for 90 minutes. A broad foot with even toes is very well suited to pointe work, as it provides a solid base upon which to dance.
High Bronze Member
Registered: 1508938476 Posts: 28
Reply with quote #13
My DD has almost the exact same feet as yours. Her arches were so flat! She started watching videos as well and stretched and strengthened her feet everyday during the summer. It only took her a few months and her arches are looking better! Here's her favorite video:
. My DD and I have also heard that the foot stretchers aren't very good for your feet, and she's been staying away from them. She also has made a habit of standing and walking on pointed feet so I'm not sure how much better that is.