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Mamala

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Reply with quote  #1 
DD (almost 9yrs old) sees dancers at all the competitions this season who are super flexible and who have amazing foot arches with beautiful pointed feet. These are two things she wants now. She is naturally flexible and can easily do splits and good leg lifts, but she's not able to do some of the things many of these super flexible dancers can do. (I dont think social media is helping because DD follows those mini dancers from dance moms and sees all that they can do with their bodies). So, she's asked me to get her one of those foot stretchers, which I'm a little worried about. She's also asking me to help her with flexibility training or finding ways to help her stretch to become more flexible. I am not a dancer so I know nothing about either of these things. The studio where she dances does not have classes specifically designed for flexibility. I would feel more comfortable having her stretch with someone knowledgeable about the human body rather than try doing something herself. I dont want her to get hurt. Her studio is small, and her teachers are not into the whole hyperflexibility trend, so I cant really ask them to help her with this. Does anyone have suggestions about where I can look for someone to work with her specifically on increasing flexibility safely?? Or are there good videos for something like that? I dont want her just going on youtube and doing whatever she sees these crazy kids doing. I'd rather it be done safely. I guess I'm asking how you can increase your flexibility safely.
And then my other question is about these foot stretching things. Are they safe? Do they work? Is it worth it?
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mic123

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Reply with quote  #2 
I would talk to her ballet teacher and ask what stretches she should be doing.  I would not be looking at videos or anything else as it may not be safe and she could end up with an injury.  I also would not get any kind of foot stretcher without talking to her teacher.

ETA - Her teachers may not be into the hyperflexibility for good reason, and they are exactly who you should be talking to.  Assuming she is getting good training with a good teacher, they will know what is best.
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oatmella

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Reply with quote  #3 
I don't think the hyperflexibility moves are really safe for most dancers. You can really damage your hips by too aggressive stretching:
https://www.theballetblog.com/portfolio/oversplits-in-second/

As for foot stretchers - I'm not sure they are safe either. I would focus more on feet strengthening exercises. Here is some more information about the safety of foot stretchers.
https://www.theballetblog.com/portfolio/the-pros-and-cons-of-foot-stretchers/

I don't think everyone can achieve amazing arched feet. It depends on the foot structure you were born with - I think one can improve, but only to a certain point. Some of these dancers were born with high arches and hyper extension - and I don't think it is safe or even possible to stretch to achieve this aesthetic.

I wouldn't look to kids on dance moms as a good example. One of them just went on pointe and it looks like she is a small 8 year old.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRYiXe-hdh2/

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ggsmith

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Reply with quote  #4 
Oatmella that is truly disturbing.  A hypermobile 8 year old, no matter what her background, is not a good candidate for pointe shoes.  I refuse to watch Dance Moms, and this type of irresponsible behavior is just a small part of the reason why.
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dave9988

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Reply with quote  #5 
Do not get a foot stretcher.

Those "beautiful pointed feet" are not just a result of flexibility ... it takes muscle strength and memory, because those feet have to be held in place - by muscles - when performing.  So if DD wants to improve her feet, I'd recommend she point her feet at home.  While watching TV, maybe in a split.  Also with a theraband, to work her ankles and toes.  Use her feet to pick up soft objects such as a scrunched up towel.  (I know you're not looking to claw, but this will build strength).  Practice this without sickling.

I know kids want a magic answer, a "machine" or other tool that will somehow make it happen by magic.  But dance is hard work.
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dave9988

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Reply with quote  #6 
And just a general read on stretching, from the International Association of Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS).

https://www.iadms.org/page/353  
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