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Coriander9

What kind of feet do I have?

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Coriander9

Background: I'm an adult dancer in my 20s and have been doing ballet more intensely since 2015. I'm at a RAD grade 6 currently. 
When I was little, I was told by my ballet teacher that I had flat feet. I used to pronate horribly, not just in dance but in walking, and my arches were collapsed. Now, I don't roll and my arches don't touch the ground when standing (moment of silence for the years of work that required :D). Today, I've have two teachers tell me that I have arch-y feet but I've been advised to work on my ankle flexibility. 
I have more hyperextension in my left leg--I had a minor knee injury in my right a decade ago and it's prone to stiffness. My left side is a lot better than my right.

I have low insteps (top arch), I think, but is that what people mean when they say flat feet--low insteps? Or does "flat feet" refer to the lack of an arch underneath the foot? Or both?
What kind of feet do I have now?
How could I improve them (I already do calf rises and theraband work (without scrunching) regularly)?
How can one balance hyperextension of foot flexibility between right/left sides?

I'd like to go on pointe one day. 
right pointe
left pointe

https://postimg.org/image/2dm2s0z4az/
https://postimg.org/image/22xz12lk6j/

Edited by Coriander9
link issue

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Coriander9

Not sure why this was moved to Pointe Shoe Fitting board--I'm not looking for pointe shoes yet and don't think my questions are exclusive to moderators. I just want to know what type of foot I have and corresponding exercises to improve. 

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Victoria Leigh

Coriander, I moved this to Adult Ballet Students, as I believe this forum will provide the answers you are seeking. 

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Coriander9

I originally posted this in Cross Talk (I assumed it was a general question), then it was moved to Pointe Fitting, and I guess now Adult Students? Quite a lot of movement! I might as well just bother the pointe fitter next to my studio to answer my question even though I'm not ready for pointe shoes :P

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Redbookish

I'm not sure what you're asking. Your feet are your feet - as an adult ballet student, I think that one of the important things we learn is to work with the body we have! You've obviously done a lot of work on your feet (although it looks a bit as though you curl your toes - try thinking of stretching the ankle and along the top of the foot, rather than pushing your toes down). I have rather non-ballet feet (ie not the "banana feet" of stereotype) but I have sometimes had the teacher's nod about using my feet well - even in jumps, when I'm on form. So it's what you can DO with your feet, rather than how they look. An arch and an instep are only useful insofar as they allow you to what you want them to do.

As for pointe shoes, well, if you go back to the Pointe Shoe forum and read Ms Leigh's and MissClara's Stickies,  you'll see the recommendations of experienced teachers. What "sort" of foot you have for pointe shoes will become evident when you're ready to learn pointe work. Again, it really doesn't matter, except that you find shoes that allow you to do your best work. 

The Pointe Shoe forum is for people specifically on pointe and seeking  expert advice. As you're not on pointe, I expect that's why your posts were moved.  The Mods for that forum ask that you have already had a "live" fitting - they can suggest things to look for, but can't actually do a fitting over the internet. 

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Coriander9

This makes sense. I get confused about the bisected standards for adults and regular students. If I read general pointe guidelines anywhere, it'll describe strong feet that articulate and roll properly--high insteps aren't mandatory but a strong flexible [bottom] arch is, the "pencil test," and various balance and strength tests. But it seems like adults aren't really held to these standards? Or maybe no one is except pros?

The sticky, "Fact of Life About Pointe" was actually what prompted my question because it describes the feet that shouldn't be allowed on pointe as "flat feet' but never defined what flat feet really were--so I tried to ask, "Are these flat feet??" I was told when I was a child student that I had flat feet (low instep+collapsed arches) and not worth training in the pre-pro school but as a college-age person, I feel like I've really improved them but not sure if I have changed them enough to shake the damning "flat" stamp.

My teacher told me to stretch my ankles by gentlygentlygentlyyyy tucking them under the couch. Are there additional ways to stretch ankles? 

I tried to take more pictures, which is really hard to do with a timer, haha.

left tendu: https://postimg.org/image/19mwtkhjbv/

right tendu: https://postimg.org/image/8oxxku79y3/

first/standing: https://postimg.org/image/2zpcnffz8b/

Edited by GTLS Designs
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morninglorie

Based on your first position picture, I don't think you have flat feet. 

There are a bunch of good exercises for feet mentioned in the "Toe Curling" sticky on the pointe shoes forum (e.g. doming, piano toes, pencil pulls--I highly recommend doming, it has helped me a TON). You might actually get an increase in your range of motion by getting the intrinsic muscles in your feet stronger. 

If you're willing/able to spend the money, Lisa Howell's Perfect Pointe book is an amazing resource to have. I'm currently trying to get strength back from ankle surgery last year, and a lot of the exercises in her book have been are really wonderful for re-building my ankle, foot, and toe strength. She also has some exercises for balance and turnout, which are always helpful! 

Regarding flexibility-- as I said above just strengthening your feet might help. Both my PT and Lisa Howell use a simple stretch where you sit on your feet to stretch to top of the foot/ankle. Depending on your flexibility, you can also gently pull up on your knee (or prop your knee up with a towel). It's a very gentle stretch, and you don't want to sit in it too long (I think Lisa only has you hold it for 10 seconds to begin with).

All this being said, getting onto pointe will depend on your technique, strength, and teacher. 

Quote

If I read general pointe guidelines anywhere, it'll describe strong feet that articulate and roll properly--high insteps aren't mandatory but a strong flexible [bottom] arch is, the "pencil test," and various balance and strength tests. But it seems like adults aren't really held to these standards? Or maybe no one is except pros?

Ehhh, I think adults SHOULD be held to the same standards--being on pointe without having the strength, technique, or ankle flexibility is a safety issue. But some schools/teachers can be more lax about it :(  

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Coriander9

Thanks! I do my theraband exercises, releves, and rolling out religiously but the small exercise like doming or the towel grabbing thing only get done once or twice a month because I feel like 'I'm not really doing anything,' if that makes sense? Wake up call to change it up!

Funnily enough, I bought Lisa Howell's Turnout e-book yesterday. It was a little overwhelming; I know I have muscular blocking in my turnout but it's really hard to identify where it is and she has me running to the Google at every paragraph to look up a different muscle or tendon. As you probably deduced from the photos, turnout is my biggest issue (but mostly in standing and derrière positions?). My teacher has faith, saying it'll come gradually but I'm not sure I share her optimism. 

I haven't seen many detailed reviews of Pointe Perfect--would you say it's worth the money?

Thanks for your advice! very helpful :wub:

If anyone else is wondering about the book, it's $23.00 USD as an ebook on her website which is a lot cheaper than Amazon.

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arciedee

Seconding the suggestion for the Perfect Pointe book. I go back to it often. The exercises are great for building strength and flexibility in the feet. It won't work miracles, but it will make noticeable changes not only in the appearance of your feet but in stability in class.

 

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Coriander9

I bought it and wow--it has a daily, long-term exercise plan and progress monitoring right out of the gate. This book is definitely not playing around with FOUR TIPS TO GET THE PERFECT FEET FAST!! 

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Coriander9

Okay so I wanted to update this thread (and continue to in future); I find these sorts of things helpful and inspiring and maybe someone else does as well. Any advice or insight is appreciated.


I've been doing Lisa Howell's Perfect Point Program for two months, I keep a tally of how many times I've done the set of exercises (about 30 times). I also take regular class and give myself a barre at home. I did the "Stage One" exercise until my test results plateaued (2 months). I think I have more mobility in my ankles and more control/strength/articulation in my toes and metatarsals. I've focused on my toe-curling habit. Have my straight feet been transformed into croissants? Non. C'est la vie. 

**DISCLAIMER** I am nearly in my third trimester of pregnancy; I'm not sure if that changes the results but in the interest of full disclosure, there's some context. I take normal class and haven't really needed to modify much but it is hard for me to stretch my arabesque and turn out. 

Edited by dancemaven
Removed photo links. We only permit those for the Pointe Shoe Modator purposes.

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AncientDancer

If the instep is a straight line or arch, flat feet are not necessarily a no-no for pointe. I know a lady who is incredibly strong, has a straight line instep, and flat feet who is amazing on pointe. 

It looks like you made major progress with your arch, though. I don’t see any change in.the ankle, but your ankle was okay to begin with. The straight instep is the strongest ankle configuration because the point doesn’t involve the joint. That beautiful, pop-out arch that everyone loves is the weakest type of ankle. 

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Coriander9

So my progress photos have been removed? My original photos are still up. I'm not sure why these photos aren't allowed in the context of a review. My thread has been moved several times. This isn't a pointe fitting thread; it's a pre-pointe progress thread. 

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Coriander9
12 hours ago, AncientDancer said:

It looks like you made major progress with your arch, though. I don’t see any change in.the ankle, but your ankle was okay to begin with. The straight instep is the strongest ankle configuration because the point doesn’t involve the joint. That beautiful, pop-out arch that everyone loves is the weakest type of ankle. 

First, thanks so much for the feedback! Part of the Lisa Howell program includes a foot stretch where you sit on your feet and ankles and augment your knee with a foam block to increase your ankle range; after doing this for something like 5 minutes, I can feel that I have 0.05% more range in my ankle and putting weight over even that little bit is SO SCARY. It's strangely made me afraid of pointe and kind of confused as to what it feels like for people with hyper mobile ankles. Mine pass the pencil test and I'm never normally nervous on demi--and I'm pregnant!

I'm going to continue with the program, mostly because it's something I can work on safely as a pregnant lady (my arabesques and grand jets need work but that'll have to wait). 
What do people think about foot stretchers for feet like mine (flat instep but relatively competent arch)? It seem like a lot of pros use them and a lot of people are shilling them. I'm not sure if they're snake oil (they're suspiciously expensive), only effective on young bones, or the answer to all of my prayers. If Misty Copeland truly started ballet at 14, I'm wondering how she managed to modify her body so much at that age; she seems to have had low insteps as well. 

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Victoria Leigh

Coriander, there are some topics on foot stretchers here on the forum, but the general thoughts from teachers, including myself, is that they are not much, if anything, more than a moneymaker, and that learning how to work the feet really well in basic tendu, dégagé, pas de cheval, frappé, and really all basic barre exercises is more valuable. Learning to work through the floor, using the metarsals, and how to really articulate the feet will improve them more than any contraptions. 

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