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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Will a Weirdly low-looking Arch Improve with time?


mcrm55

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I am hoping Mel and Victoria especially can give me some insight here. My dd's feet are exactly like her father's: strong, very beautiful arch when pointed or on demi pointe, but weirdly un-arched-looking when standing or walking. They look almost flat (there is about a quarter-3/8 inch gap to floor) from the front in 1st position, pronate a bit, but not that much. Does this change? What are the ramifications of this type of foot? My ex-husband's feet have run many a marathon without any problems, but at the very least aesthetically it doesn't look ideal to me. Is it a flaw that will really hurt her chances of developing well? ( Her form in every other area is pretty ideal.) Are there exercises to improve this condition? (she has no pain or other 'symptom') Should she be "pulling up" her feet? or will that just do damage?

 

I did do a search on this, but could not come up with a description matching what I am trying to get at. (also did a search for Briansky, by the way, but didn't come up with as good stuff as people just sent me, thanks, you guys!)

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mcrm, if the foot looks good pointed and on demi pointe or full pointe, then that is the most important thing. She probably has a really good instep, even though the arch is a bit low. It is also possible that she is pronating, and that would make the arch look low. If she is doing that, her technique needs to be corrected, as does her general gait. I think a podiatrist would most likely prescribe orthotics for her in her street shoes. If it's not actually flat, but just rolling, it's correctable. If it is flat, I'm not sure, but I would think it could still be improved by orthotics and by correcting the technique.

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Thanks, Victoria. As you know, I was a dancer, and my feet were a little different, so I'm not sure about hers.

 

I personally think she is forcing her turnout (a little) at this point, and have warned her about the danger, principally to her knees, from not letting the turnout develop naturally from the hip. Thus, there may be a slight bit of pronation from this which is exacerbating things. But the basic issue to me is the appearance of a low longditudinal arch. Assuming her technique is proper, and I think it is, what to do? Do you have an opinion about her puposely rolling her foot out, away from the arch ? (ie lifting the arch somewhat artificially, by being mindful of it and trying to do it, as opposed to it's being just there?) I think orthotics in her day shoes would help, but is there anything else she should or should not do? She looks great in her pointe shoes (although I have forbidden her to do more than a tiny bit in them at a time) and in kid shoes of course when she's pointing or on demi-pointe

 

I am taking her to the Harkness clinic on Monday to see an orthopedist. Do the web readers know about this amazing sevice already? Dancers are encouraged (you can go, if you are a dancer, or take your child if you are a parent) to have an evaluation by a foot specialist, and also a PT I guess, who will analyse the dancer's individual structure for possible or potential problems and prescribe preventive measures. I can't wait. My dd goes next week for the first of two sessions. Having said that, back to you.

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Yes, mcrm, most of us are aware of the Harkness Clinic for dancers, however, very few of our readers and posters live in NYC. I'm very glad that you are taking her there, and that should answer a lot of questions. I'm not sure about the question you ask about pulling up the arch, but IF it is rolling at all, yes of course. If not, then no, I don't think so. Let's hear from the docs on this one.

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Your original post sounds like I could have written it about one of my DD's. I would love to hear what you find out at Harkness.

 

vj

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For those of us that don't have access to NYC and the Harkness Clinic, are there similar options in other cities? If so, how do we go about finding them? I would appreciate an evaluation from a professional who is trained and has experience with dancers, their bodies, and the demand that is required for their training. Not just for her feet, but her entire body.

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I would suggest contacting the professional ballet company in or near your area to see if they will let you know the podiatrist with whom their dancers work. It is imperative that your dancing student seek the opinion of someone who works with professional dancers on a regular basis. If it means making an appointment well in the future, so be it. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi mcrm55,

I was wondering what you found out about your daughters feet. One of my dds has feet similar to what you describe. I believe this is called a flexible flat foot, rather than a rigid flat foot. Did the Harkness Clinic inform you of any potential dangers associated with dancing on this kind of foot? It seems to me that there shouldn't be any aesthetic issue if the foot looks nice when not bearing weight. My daughter doesn't pronate, eigther. Were orthotics suggested for your daughter?

Thanks.

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Hello all,

 

Another long one....

 

The followup visit for 10.5 yr. old dd at Harkness was really great. We had a knowledgeable PT who first examined my dd on a massage table, checking flexibility, degree of natural turnout, degree of natural turnin, strength of all sorts of muscles (particularly inner and outer thigh, hip flexors, all those muscles surrounding the hip, also abdominals...obviously, I am no anatomy expert and can't name the muscles correctly).

 

Conclusions here: DD has great flexibility, (except could use some stretch in the hamstrings). Her legs have a fair but not extraordinary degree of turnout, certainly within a workable parameter for a prefessional dancer, but she will have to work on it and it will come with time. Thus, she needs to strengthen all the muscles surrounding her hips and thighs. Feet are flexible with good arches, needs to strengthen them, too, to help some pronation. Not concerned about this, though, seemed to think pronation also would straighten out with strength. Abdominals pretty good, could work on her lower abs a little, which would help keep her back straight, along with stretching hamstring, during her developpe en avant.

 

Looked at feet as pertained to future pointe work. As dd has space between 1st and 2nd toes, she felt that a spacer might be useful and help prevent bunion formation, but dd would have to wear a wider box in that case, and it could cause the sides of her feet to rub more against the sides of her shoes. So: spacer + wider shoes, side rub =less chance of bunion v.s. no spacer, narrower shoe (like rest of her foot), more tapered, but more chance of bunion.

 

Then they moved to a dance exercise area, and placed my dd on two footpads mounted on swivels, and had her turn out. This was to find her present degree of natural turnout (about 130-145 degrees) to show my dd how much of her turnout was natural, and how much (the other 60-45 degrees) she is "creating" by using friction against the floor, and thus putting strain on her feet and knees. I have been telling my dd ad nauseam to stop forcing her turnout, but does she listen to me? (no.) The PT used this exercise to help explain to my dd that since virtually no one is born with perfect 180 degree turnout from the hip, not to worry, she would give her exercises to help. DD a bit crestfallen, but (I hope) convinced.

 

Next, she asked her to do some simple releves, some plies in 1st and 2nd position, etc., to check her placement over her feet and knees, use of back etc., all of which she thought looked good, so she gave her a bunch of exercises to do with the theraband, three to strengthen her feet, two to work on her inner and outer thighs, and one to help stretch hamstring. Come to think of it, she didn't give any exercise for those lower abs, so maybe I can call to get one.

 

All in all, an extremely informative and helpful visit. Great PT. Clear, positive, encouraging but serious. Free theraband! Also, my daughter loved it, because she was taken seriously. We also had an informal chat about nutrition, since my dd is pretty thin, and I am always trying to get enough good nourishing food into her so she can grow as well as dance. The PT promised to give me the name of a nutritionist who specializes in dancers if I call back today, which I certainly will.

 

Hope this is informative and helpful to you all. Everyone should go who lives within shooting distance. Definitely worth it, for peace of mind if nothing else, and there's LOTS else, don't you think?

 

Best,

 

mcrm :angry:

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mcrm,

Not only was this follow up interesting for me to read, it sounds like you and your DD had a good experience and hopefully some answers. Thanks for sharing with us ! :angry: As i often post, I have a DD who is a little younger, but I like to "file away" all these great tidbits that I pick up on this wonderful board. :shrug:

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mcrm,

Thanks for sharing about your visit to the Harkness! It sounds very thorough. Makes those of us who live in the "hinterlands" a bit jealous. :angry:

 

Are there any institutions located in other parts of the US, that dancers here have experience with, that offer similar services? :shrug:

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The Boston Ballet School has an arrangement with the Children's Hospital in Boston that provides a clinic one Saturday a month. For a small fee you can have a routine assessment on flexibility, range of motion, turn out etc. I think this is done by physical therapy in the orthopedic department. If you have a specific complaint you can also be seen using your insurance. I will be bringing my daughter in to let an expert tell her that her back is normal. She doesn't believe me when I tell her.

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Guest fille'smom

In Cincinnati, Ohio there is a place called Spectrum Rehabilitation that offers the same services, expert evaluation and treatment for dancers. We have been very pleased with the therapy and advice we have gotten there. Jacqui Haas (athletic trainer, Performing Arts Medicine Coordinator, certified Pilates Instructor) may be able to recommend places in other areas. Visit www.health-alliance.com/Spectrum for a look at Spectrum Rehab. I think that you will find Jacqui's email address there if you have any questions.

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